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Wes Anderson: 12 Fun Facts About His Movies

It’s no secret that Wes Anderson jam packs his films with Easter eggs that make watching his pics akin to embarking on a scavenger hunt. Just like you can discover something new with each viewing, there’s still much to learn about the enigmatic director and his bountiful film universes. With his eighth feature film, “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” opening nationwide on Friday, here are 12 fun facts about Anderson and his movies.

1) Bill Murray earned about $9,000 for his role in “Rushmore”
Although he ultimately received a hefty chunk of the profits, Murray was only paid his SAG day rate to star in the 1998 film. In fact, Murray theoretically put up money for the gig. When Disney didn’t want to rent a helicopter to shoot the scene in Jason Schwartzman’s character Max’s Vietnam War-themed play, Murray offered to foot the $25,000-bill. The chopper shot was cut, but Anderson kept Murray’s un-cashed check.

2) The “Royal Tenenbaums” hawk was kidnapped and held for ransom
During the filming of “The Royal Tenenbaums” in 2001, Mordecai the hawk was kidnapped and held for ransom, causing Anderson and his team to use a second hawk. The original Mordecai and his captors’ whereabouts are unknown.

3) Cate Blanchett was originally supposed to play Ms. Fox
The Oscar-winning actress was originally the voice of Ms. Fox in Wes Anderson’s 2009 smash “The Fantastic Mr. Fox” but was replaced by another Oscar winner: Meryl Streep.

4) Wes Anderson used a “psychological game” to convince Ralph Fiennes to star in “The Grand Budapest Hotel
Fiennes received an email from Anderson asking him to read the script and tell him which part he wanted. “That was a psychological game,” Anderson told NPR. “I’ve always had this thought that the best way to get an actor to not want to be in your film is to offer them a part. The number of times I’ve had someone say, ‘Well, I like everybody else’s parts — I’m not so sure about my guy.’”

5) “Bottle Rocket” is one of Martin Scorsese’s favorite movies of the ’90s
“(Anderson) knows how to convey the simple joys and interactions between people so well and with such richness,” Scorsese, one of Anderson’s “heroes,” wrote in Esquire in 2000. “This kind of sensibility is rare in movies.” Producer James L. Brooks helped get funding from Columbia Pictures for the 1996 film, which was Anderson’s first feature.

6) Several of his movie sets exist in real life
Anderson’s films may seem fanciful, but many of the locations can be visited, at least from the outside. The family home in “The Royal Tenenbaums” exists in Harlem (on W. 144th St. and Covent Ave). Meanwhile, Suzy’s house in “Moonrise Kingdom” is an old lighthouse in Jamestown, Rhode Island.

7) The song remains (slightly) the same
When Steve Zissou gives a tour of his boat in “The Life Aquatic,” you’re hearing the theme of “The Royal Tenenbaums” played backwards.

8) Members of the hotel staff in “Grand Budapest Hotel” were real-life hospitality workers, not actors
All of the workers behind the front desk of the 1930-set hotel in the fictional European nation of Zubrowska were actual employees of hotels the crew patronized while scouting locations and shooting the movie. Two of the extras were from hotels in Gorlitz, Germany and another was the concierge of the historic Atlantic Hotel in Hamburg, Jeremy Dawson, one of the film’s producers, told Variety.

9) Owen Wilson steps into the limelight
Actor Owen Wilson placed a small lime in his shoe for his constant limping in Anderson’s 2007 drama “The Darjeeling Limited.”

10) “The Life Aquatic” was first teased in “Rushmore”
“Rushmore” hinted at “The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou” during a scene in which Max reads Jacques-Yves Cousteau’s book “Diving For Sunken Treasure.” Cousteau was Anderson’s main inspiration for “Life Aquatic.”

11) “Grand Budapest Hotel” was conceived thanks to the Library of Congress
The idea for “Grand Budapest Hotel” germinated from a character sketch about a longtime mutual friend of Anderson and long-time collaborator Hugo Guinness (who shares a story credit). Anderson began scouting locations in Austria, Hungary, Poland, Germany and the Czech Republic after being inspired by postcard-like photographs he stumbled upon in the Library of Congress.

12) “Grand Budapest Hotel” was shot in three different aspect ratios
The Fox Searchlight movie (you can read our review here) was shot at 1.37, 1.85 and 2.35:1 to inform the viewer where he or she is in the timeline, which alternates between three time periods: 1985, 1968 and the 1930s.

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