Wes Anderson Curated

American film director

CURATED BY :  

This profile has been added by users(CURATED) : Users who follow Wes Anderson have come together to curate all possible video, text and audio interview to showcase Wes Anderson's journey, experiences, achievements, advice, opinion in one place to inspire upcoming directors. All content is sourced via different platforms and have been given due credit.

  • Where did the inspiration for the Bill Murray character in The Darjeeling Limited come from and how important was it that you got him again?

    Well, we had thought of Bill Murray while we were writing it. The inspiration for that was… well, I’d actually written that scene and went to Jason [Schwartzman] and Roman [Coppola] with it. So, I had the Bill Murray scene and then Adrien Brody’s entrance, followed by Jason Schwartzman’s entrance and then Owen Wilson’s and the three brothers on this train. But that’s all I had. I didn’t know what was going to happen from there.

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  • Which of the three brothers in The Darjeeling Limited is closest to you?

    Well, I kind of feel closest to Jason [Schwartzman]‘s character. I feel like I understand his experience in the short film [Hotel Chevalier] in particular and then I also relate to his idea that he’s going to document what’s happening in his life and make it into fiction – and that’s somehow going to get him to the next chapter in his life. I definitely identify with that because when we were writing we had really made a point to keep it [the story] as personal as we could; to try to always use our personal experiences in the story. We also had this idea that this movie was going to have a big affect on us – that was our goal, to have something heavy happen to us.

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  • Do you think Bill Murray's been something of a good luck charm for you?

    Yeah, he is a good luck charm and the other thing is that like Angelica Huston, he’s someone that I love to have on the set. The way I know them both is on the basis of being a fan of them and their movies. So, any chance to have them involved, I’m going to jump at.

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  • Are you ever concerned that the audience won’t be able to relate to your films?

    Some people have that experience with my films. But for me that’s never been my goal. I don’t want to hold back. If I have ideas, I want to put them in the movie. It’s not a minimalist approach at all but I feel like it’s for the audience. It’s about seeing how much texture we can give it and seeing how many things are there for people to latch on to… I just want to do it the way I want and I feel like it won’t be helpful for me if I start worrying about that. I just have to follow my instincts. Everyone is going to respond differently to it and everybody’s right – that’s their point of view. That’s how the story intersects with their lives.

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  • How was the experience of shooting in India for The Darjeeling Limited?

    I had been told by a number of people that it would be chaotic and unpredictable, so I was warned. I thought that we ought to make it our policy that when we were confronted by some surprise or obstacle in the course of making the movie we would just incorporate that into the story. So, if the set somehow was different when the moment came to shoot it we’d just use what we got. And that happened quite consistently. For instance, we had a team where the body of this boy [in the movie] is meant to be washed. No one in the village we were working in wanted it to be shot in their house – they didn’t want anyone pretending to be dead in their houses. But they agreed to build us a little house where we could shoot that scene. So after we talked about it a bit, the people that built the house showed it to me and I said: “Great, on Tuesday we’ll come and shoot this scene…” But then we arrived on the morning to shoot it and they’d changed it. They’d painted it and put flowers in it and it was all quite different. So, I asked what had happened and they replied: “We thought you would like this more.” But as a result of deciding to embrace these changes, there were surprises built into our process that made it exciting.

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  • Do you do more takes on live-action movies or animated ones?

    I do a lot of takes in live action, but at least as many when we’re recording. With a live-action movie we do a lot of takes, but we do them very, very quickly, one after another. We often don’t cut in-between the takes and we just sort of fly through it. That, I like. It brings some energy into it. What I don’t like is waiting between takes and waiting between set-ups. That is the killer. If you can just kind of keep everybody playing the scenes and doing their characters and trying things, that’s where the excitement comes.

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  • You work with Edward Norton a lot. Maybe using him as an example, how do you direct animated films differently than live-action ones?

    To me, when you’re just recording voices... (actors) can try anything. And they can go any direction you want. And my job is to listen and hear various things to make sure that everything we need is there, but I don’t want to predict what they’re going to do. I’m kind of waiting. Do something that surprises me. Then, sometimes if I know there’s something we need, something I can help steer us towards, then I can always do that. But really, the thing is, I feel like often the thing that helps it is just having the chance to do it and to do it again, and play with it.

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  • With so many of your movies, if you held the shot one second longer it wouldn’t work.

    Well you’ve got to have the right timing, that’s for sure. My editor (Andrew Weisblum) feels that he is sensitive down to two frames, but I’m sensitive to one frame. He knows from observing over the years that I can tell if there’s a one-frame difference, and he feels he can always tell if there’s two.

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  • Your films are so deadpan, so the perfect reaction is crucial. Do you create that in the editing room? Or can you tell on set when you have it?

    I think most of the time, usually if there’s a scene where it’s just simple close-ups or simple things that are intercut on a live-action movie, then you sort of really don’t know until you get into the editing room. What you’re looking for is what’s the most interesting, what’s the most compelling, what’s the stuff that’s got the most life in it? You shape it out of that.

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  • How did you become one of the most European directors, as people consider you to be?

    The movies that inspired me to want to make movies are half-American, half-European. When I was at university I went to the school library and read all the cinema books. I discovered this whole canon of ‘60s movies, this moment when European and Japanese films became popular internationally along with the auteurs of that period. Truffaut, Goddard, Bergman, Fellini, Kurosawa, and the German New Wave influenced me to become a filmmaker as much as Scorsese, Peter Bogdanovich, Coppola and Mike Nichols in America.

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  • How did your current fascination with Europe come about?

    Over the past 10 years I’ve spent lots of time in Europe, much more than in the rest of my life. I feel like my view of the world is very affected, changed by being here for so long. I feel very much like a foreigner when I’m travelling in Europe, but when I go back to America I feel like a foreigner in a way I never did before. I wanted to make a movie in Europe before doing something related to Zweig.

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  • Did you get everyone you wanted for the cast of Grand Budapest?

    Every movie I’ve done at least half the people said no. A lot of them were the second choice. This is the one movie where I got everybody—except before we offered the part to Tilda we had talked to Angela Lansbury, who is in her 80s, about doing it. She couldn’t do it but as soon as that happened I thought I’d like to have Tilda. I wanted her in the movie somehow anyway and I think the only thing to do is make Tilda 85. So we did that.

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  • How much is your perfection a burden or a blessing?

    I don’t have the experience of perfection when I’m making a film. What I’m usually trying to do is see what I can add in or do to try to make it what I think is better, more entertaining or more interesting somehow and I don’t particularly feel I’m trying to get everything exactly this way or that. It’s more just trying to give it as much life as I can or details that I can add into the mix.

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  • Did you grow up watching old movies?

    No, I grew up with whatever was in cinemas or on TV. Star Wars was the biggest thing when I was a kid. We liked Disney movies, John Hughes movies.

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  • The Grand Budapest Hotel seems influenced by the Golden Age of Hollywood where Europe was recreated in places like Culver City. Would you agree?

    Those ‘30s movies are part of the inspiration for the setting and sort of middle Europe filtered through Hollywood. We had all watched films together in Görlitz. We’d watched some Lubitsch movies, Grand Hotel, To Be or Not To Be, The Good Fairy with Margaret Sullavan, Love Me Tonight, the Rouben Mamoulian, The Mortal Storm with the great Frank Morgan, The Swedish film The Silence, which is in its own invented country with hotel scenes.

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  • There is sentimentality in your movies. They look to the past and there are never any cell phones. Do you believe that humanity has lost some of its values, so you go to the past to re-discover them?

    I’m not sure I know the answer to your question. One thing I like to do when I make a movie is to try to make a world for the movie to take place in, a setting for the characters that our team can create that you can’t just walk outside and find. A world that is far from the social networking world that we have right here in front of us. Though, Spike Jonze just made a very invented world that is the next step beyond. That appeals to me. I would like to do something set in the future. The present, just in and of itself, I guess I don’t know how to work with it yet. Who knows, I could go in any direction.

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  • How did the screenplay for The Grand Budapest Hotel come about?

    I started on the story eight years ago with Hugo Guinness and we wanted to write the story about our mutual friend. We didn’t really have a plan and were spontaneously making it up, but after 20 minutes of moving the story between France and England we couldn’t figure what should happen next. So we set it aside. Over the next few years I started reading the works of Stefan Zweig, a famous Austrian writer from the ‘20s and ‘30s who is little known in English, and we decided to combine the two things. We set it in the ‘30s and made our friend a concierge because he would make the world’s best concierge. We then toured Eastern Europe and all over Germany looking for the right hotel, but everything had changed too much, though we picked up many ideas along the way. Finally, we found the right location: a department store in Görlitz near the Polish border.

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  • Why do you populate your movies with such eccentric characters?

    Probably they’re more normal to me than they are to you. The character Gustav H. is modelled on is a real person, a very close friend of mine. Normal isn’t the first word I would use for him. Probably normal is not the thing you usually look for when creating an interesting character anyway.

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  • Films are an emotional medium. Do you spend much time trying to build emotion or is it a byproduct?

    Any time you’re working on a movie, or on a story, you’re developing it. It’s saying, ‘What have we got and how do we make it better?’ Sometimes it means, ‘How do we make it scarier?’ or ‘How do we make it funnier?’ or ‘How do we make the emotion of the scene reach somebody in a stronger way?’ That’s always part of just working the material.

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  • Do you reflect on recurring stuff in your work, like all the 12-year-olds?

    I don’t really. Sometimes I feel like, ‘Well this is something that I might have had before in some other form, and do I want to do it again? Do I want to go in some other direction?’ Usually if I think about it and decide to stick with it, it’s because it feels like something that’s built into the story. In the end I would rather make it better than make it… Sometimes I just want to go with. whatever is going to make the story stronger and sometimes, for me, that means links between the stories.

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  • Do you have a favourite stage of moviemaking?

    I usually think that I like all different stages of making a movie but when you get towards the end of one of the stages you’re ready for it to end, and you’re looking forward to the next part. That’s a very common experience for me.

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  • When you’re at this stage where you have the germ of an idea, do you have certain rituals to bring it to the fore?

    Sometimes things that I’m working on might have had little seeds that go back five years or 10 years even, some little aspects of it. The last movie I did it was definitely at least eight years or so from when I first started taking notes and thinking about it. I don’t have rituals, but sometimes it’s a long process that happens while other things are going on. Then I also have a great thing which is I have collaborators, some of whom I’ve worked with for years and years. I can share what I’ve been working on with them. Sometimes they help and sometimes they just remind you how you did it before, how long it took you to do some aspects of a movie, or what I’m like even during a process so I can say, ’Oh I see, so this is how it always is’ because sometimes I block out what it was like. I forget.

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  • How did you begin your journey for The Isle of Dogs?

    I did one animated movie years ago [Fantastic Mr Fox, 2009] and I had the thought that I would like to do another one at some point. I had the idea of this story of these alpha dog characters and setting of this garbage dump. It sounds like a very odd thing to have waiting in the wings: a pack of dogs who lived on a garbage dump, but that was what I had. And then I started talking with Jason Schwartzman and Roman Coppola about it. We had also talked about doing something in Japan or with a Japanese setting and we combined them together. The story really could have been set anywhere but our big inspiration with the movie was to make it about what we loved in Japanese cinema and it grew into something more to do with all kinds of Japanese culture and our enthusiasm for it.

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  • Your film The Grand Budapest Hotel is nominated for nine Academy Awards. Do those nominations mean something to you? And if so, what?

    Yes. Certainly I didn't expect we were going to get a whole bunch of nominations like this. I've never had that happen for any of the other movies. I've had a few nominations here and there but I've never had a slew of them like this. And it's great. Our movie won a Golden Globe, I've never gotten one of those before. And I was at the Director's Guild thing the other night and I've never been nominated for that before. It's great. Anyway, now it sounds like I'm just bragging about all the prizes we've got, but the emphasis I can make is that it's a new experience for me, it's quite fun.

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  • Where did Ralph Fiennes come in the process of making The Grand Budapest Hotel?

    In this case, he essentially came in at the beginning because there was a real person who was the model for the character. I think I had the voice of our friend in mind all the time, so I didn't really think of Ralph. But I'm always always aware that I had this person who can do this. In a lot of ways it was a difficult role. Ralph makes it seem very light and free, but I don't know very many actors who could take this part.

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  • When you're writing, do you hear a particular actor's voice — male or female? Or do you leave it to the casting?

    Usually, I don't start out with people in mind. Once you start casting it, mentally, you're starting to make the movie, it's not just writing. Usually what happens when I start doing that is I read the scenes imagining the actor and see how that feels. Sometimes that then alters how you write it from there, or you might change something a bit, hoping you might get the person. It usually comes in during the writing process.

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  • As you write scenes, do you know what it's going to look like, or do you write it and then at a later point you figure out how you're going to execute it cinematically?

    When it comes to something that requires that particular choreography, I find you can't write it if you don't carefully visualize it. Sometimes it means that you almost have to design the set to make the scene accurate, to make it a good set of instructions for what we're going to shoot. With this movie, we shot the movie on existing locations ... we made this town in Germany fit our script. That was kind of the process.

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  • What would be most noticeable about the stage directions, the camera movements, the music cues? How have your scripts evolved?

    I always try to make a script like reading a story. But the script is important to everybody. It's the reminder of some details and so it's kind of finding where's the balance of what someone in the art department needs to be reminded of in the right moments. We've figured out different systems of our own in my filmmaking group because there's so much information that needs to get out there. And I've had so many experiences where something got lost, where you forgot to do something, it fell through the cracks. Getting the information to the right person, the right place, the right time — it takes some particular organizational methods and the script is part of that.

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  • Can you explain how you first conceived of the story for "The Grand Budapest Hotel"?

    I had a bit of a story and an idea for a character. We'd been tinkering with that for a few years. And then I started reading Austrian novelist Stefan Zweig, and at first I thought I might like to adapt one of his books — there's one big novel and many, many short stories. In the course of time...I sort of thought I'd like to do my own Zweig-esque thing because there are connections among them. He has a particular style and set of interests. It's like someone meets a person and eventually that person tells him his story and we go back. They all have that sort of frame. That's something that we took from Zweig. There are elements of Zweig and also his memoir, which is about Vienna before the first World War and what it was like for him to see things change so radically and horrifically, ultimately. So, we mixed that with our other idea and eventually this story took shape.

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  • How did you cast Ralph Fiennes as the lead for The Grand Budapest Hotel?

    I’d wanted to work with Ralph for some time. I met him maybe ten years ago at somebody’s house. I went into the kitchen, and he was sitting there alone. He’s intense and so dedicated and, like, a Method actor, and I’ve not really worked with anyone like that before. In In Bruges and the play God of Carnage, he’s many things, but he’s very funny in both.

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  • What’s the worst thing you’ve had to give up for health reasons?

    Really, the true answer is I haven’t. But I should give up a number of things. I always used to have at least two desserts a day. Invariably. Now I have only one.

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  • You don’t have kids, but what’s one thing you did as a youngster that would piss you off if your kid did it?

    Well, at one point my older brother and I decided we wanted to make an entrance to our house through the roof. So we cut a hole in the roof and went into the attic. We had a plan for the whole thing, and it took days. Then my father saw it, and I don’t ever remember seeing him like this. He couldn’t believe it. It was unthinkable. We’d cut a hole in the roof of our house! Now that I think of it, I realize how horrifying that would be.

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  • You create strange, contained worlds in your comedies: the school in Rushmore, the boat in The Life Aquatic and now this hotel full of odd characters.

    Yes, usually I feel like I’m trying to make a little world for my characters—and both the world and characters are invented for the movie. And I probably define the edges of that world a little more sharply than some.

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  • You’re from Texas and used to live in New York. But recently you've mostly been in Europe. Are you officially an American in exile?

    I haven’t actually been in America for a couple of years now. My girlfriend [Juman Malouf, a writer] has a house in Kent so we're in the U.K. pretty often. Lately I’ve been in Germany a lot to make the movie, and back and forth between there and Paris, where I have my apartment and office. But when I'm in Paris, I still feel like I’m an American abroad. I don’t feel like I’ve assimilated to one culture or the other, and my French is no better than it ever was.

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  • Do you feel frustrated that some people raise their eyebrows at the very idea of “a Wes Anderson movie”?

    I used to react more. Now I don’t feel especially provoked by anything one way or the other. I’ve probably got a thicker skin than I used to. I think everything I’m consciously doing is different to what I’ve done before, but when it’s put together, people say they can tell in ten seconds that it’s by me. If I try to make something I want to, it does tend to have a pretty strong link to what I’ve done before.

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  • You also have stuck to the tradition of shooting on film and have yet to shoot a film digitally. Why is that?

    True, but I don’t know. In a year, in two years, I don’t know if it will be a reasonable option to shoot on film. Sometimes I see a movie now that is shot digitally and I don’t even know. I am interested in all different kinds of filmmaking. I don’t know if I see something slipping away. There are lots of very strong-minded, personal filmmakers and they will always do what they believe in.

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  • Who are your biggest filmmaking influences?

    My favorite filmmakers are people like John Huston, Orson Welles, Jean Renoir, Roman Polanski, Stanley Kubrick, Fellini, and Bergman – and that’s how I was formed as a filmmaker. Those are the biggest influences.

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  • What kinds of films do you feel like you draw on the most?

    The kind of movies that I want to make draw probably equally on European and American movies and maybe some Japanese or Indian, too. But the biggest are European, American, and British traditions. I am more interested in a classical kind of moviemaking. I like to be dazzled in the movies and I don’t feel I am very reserved in the way I direct. But they come from a tradition of cinema.

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  • Do figures from your own biography ever find their way into your storytelling? For example, is the father in The Royal Tenenbaums based on your father?

    In The Royal Tenenbaums I was trying to use some things that happened to me, but they are very changed when they become a movie. It’s some things from my memory where I thought, “This is something of my own that I can use here.” But the father-son thing may at least have much to do with people that I have met. For many years I have had a number of different friends who are in the same age range as my father and they have quite influenced me. Some of them are real characters. So that’s maybe as much where that comes from as anywhere else.

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  • Do you usually start out with an image or a story idea?

    It’s different for different ones. I remember quite well that the first movie I made was very much visual ideas. And it was not really things that were related to the story, it was more of a setting. But Grand Budapest Hotel for instance I had a character that we were very interested in. We just had a little idea for this character and a bit of a story, and I also had later the idea that I would like to do something related to Stefan Zweig.

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  • Do you feel economic pressure for your movies to perform well?

    I like to save money, I like to keep the costs down, but that’s mainly because I want to be able to make sure all the money we are spending is in the movie, it’s the part that’s up there, and nothing is wasted. As far as the movie making money, I don’t know how to influence that. I feel like there would not be much of a point in me saying, “Let’s do the movie this way, because it will be more popular.” You can’t guess. But in terms of trying to make a movie on a certain budget, Life Aquatic was very expensive and too big. Even while we were doing it I felt, “This is not appropriate for this film. It’s not going to make enough money to do this.”

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  • Do you ever feel time pressure when you are on set realizing some of those more complex shots?

    Well, I am not usually in a situation where we can fix it later. We are usually doing it one way and we won’t be able to change the whole thing. There are a lot of things that we can fix in the cutting room, but we’ll only be able to improve what we have shot. Over the years I feel more pressure, but I don’t think it’s because someone is putting that pressure on me. It’s really more that I feel more a sense of satisfaction when we keep it organized and we have a plan and do it right.

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  • Do you want your films to be recognizable because of your style?

    I don’t want to have an invisible style, but I don’t care about having a trademark. My writing and my way of staging the scenes and shooting – people can tell it’s me, but that’s not by my choice. It naturally happens. It’s just my personality as a director.

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  • Did you ever have an actor that couldn’t deal with your style of directing?

    One of the most challenging and best actors I worked with, many years ago, was Gene Hackman. He was not a relaxed, comfortable person in my company, but he did like a complicated shot where you have to be here and here and where there is a challenge for him. He liked the idea of doing a scene where you do something here and then you have to run around the back of something and appear somewhere else, like theater.

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  • Do you see your films as self-contained worlds where you are in control of everything?

    That’s probably true. I think there is some psychological thing where some artists like to make order and organizing and shaping something gives them some kind of feeling of accomplishment. But I also think there are some artists who are more interested in expressing something chaotic.

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  • Your visual style is very eccentric and unique. What makes that happen?

    I have my own way of blocking things and framing things that's built into me. I compare it to handwriting. I don't fully understand it — why my handwriting is like this — but in a way there's some sort of tonal thing with the kind of stories I do. They tend to have some fable element, and I think my visual predilections are somehow related to trying to make that tone and make my own writing work with performers.

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  • Why did you decide on using a miniature for the hotel in The Grand Budapest Hotel?

    I thought we were going to find the perfect hotel and that we'd just do it there. We didn't. We looked for a very long time and we found all kinds of great parts of hotels and ideas, but we didn't find the right one. In fact, the more we looked, the more we wanted to use things from multiple places. So eventually, we ... decided we're going to do a miniature. We set to work on designing it. First, I love miniatures. It's just an old movie technique, an old-fashioned approach. ... There's a certain charm to miniatures to me, I just like them. But also, when you're doing a miniature it means you can make the thing exactly the way you want. You have essentially no limitation. So we could put our hotel where we wanted it, we could make it look how we wanted it, and we could put things around it that we wanted... We were quite inspired by these paintings by Caspar David Friedrich and their views. We used them in different ways, but we decided maybe we would make the hillside — the whole spa town would be presented in a painting, a mural with the miniature in it. And we did it in the style of Caspar David Friedrich, so it became a miniature and a painting.

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  • What was your reason behind shooting on locations and not on sets for The Grand Budapest Hotel?

    I felt like I didn't want to work in a movie studio. I've done it before; I don't like it. I like to be on location; I like to have input from the real world that is helping to shape what we're doing ... We found this department store in this town called Gorlitz, which is in Saxony. Half of it is in Germany and the other half is in Poland. It's on the border and it's about 20 minutes from the Czech Republic, so in a way it's really right where our story would be if there was such a place. ... This department store that we found, we made into our hotel — the big entrance hall of our hotel — and then we found everything else from the movie within a certain radius of that department store, and we discovered all sorts of things and people as we traveled around, figuring it all out. We made a pastiche of the greatest hits of Eastern Europe.

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  • What is it like on your sets?

    The editing ... and the construction of the sets and the design of the sets, even if it's on location — this is all carefully planned. ... We gather all of the ingredients and we have it very prepared so that when the day comes to shoot, everything is sort of quite set in that way. But the actors — I feel like what happens is we all get together, they come on the set and then it's just chaos, and they take over and it goes one way or another. We tend to do a lot of takes but very, very quickly, one right after another, and anything might happen on the next take. That's my feeling of what it's like on the sets of the movies I do. I think there's choreography, but I always feel like it's coming from them. Maybe that's an illusion.

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  • What is your view on The Grand Budapest Hotel being historical fiction?

    I haven't ever made a movie before that had such a specific historical context, and at the same time I've made this choice to vaguely fictionalize it all, and it's an odd combination. It's very clear what moments we're referring to and what region this is taking place in, but we've made our own country and our own Europe and we've sort of combined the two world wars. Who knows why in the world I felt it had to be done that way. I usually feel the need to invent a world for the characters to live in in the movies I do ...

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