Wes Anderson joined a constellation of stars from his space- themed southwestern US fable Asteroid City for a colourfully jubilant press conference in Cannes on Wednesday (May 24) to talk techniques, inspiration and working with such an elegant ensemble cast.
Cast members Jason Schwartzman, Scarlett Johansson, Bryan Cranston, Jeffrey Wright, Maya Hawke, Rupert Friend and Stephen Park were in town to support the Cannes Competition premiere of the love story set in 1955 at a junior space cadet conference is disrupted by an alien invasion.
“With a movie like Asteroid City, there are so many things we could have done in post, but we did them instead in Spain,” said Anderson. “It changes their experience.” I’ve never thought, “I wish we could do this on a Green Screen.” The way we work is probably more similar to the way a movie was made in 1930 than it is today. The way we work is probably more similar to the way a movie was made in 1930 than the way they are made right now.”
“So much of the movie comes out of me just liking being around actors,” Anderson said of the who’s who of Hollywood heavyweights in the cast that also includes Tom Hanks, Steve Carell and Margot Robbie who joined the filmmaker’s universe for the first time in the film alongside previous collaborators like Edward Norton and regulars Tilda Swinton, Adrien Brody and the most ubiquitous of all Anderson films, Schwartzman.
Schwartman said Anderson is “the first person that wasn’t in my family that actually asked me a question and cared what I said,” speaking about their first meeting when he was 17. “That feeling is the reason we’re here,” Schwartzman said. He is curious, and he can see things in us we don’t. He never makes himself comfortable.”
The other members of the case were equally effusive in their praise for their director. Cranston said that the “movie on a TV show doing a piece theatre” was “Wes’s letter to performance art.” “It feels like Wes Anderson is the conductor of an orchestra and it feels like all of us are playing an instrument.”
“It was intense,” Johansson said of the experience. “The world exists and you are in it.” The entire environment is created. It’s a physical, tangible, useable space.” She called the filming a “very fulfilling and exciting” experience adding that it “feels very vibrant and very much like you’re working in theatre.”
Anderson said the film, whose characters find themselves in quarantine following the alien visit, was naturally prompted in part by the Covid pandemic.
“During the real intense part of the Covid period, we were writing the script,” he explains. “I feel that writing is now the most improvisational aspect of the entire process.” “It really suited us,” he said, but added: “I don’t want to say it was good for the movie, but we used it in a way that wasn’t bad.” “It really suited us,” he said, but added: “I don’t want to say it was good for the movie, but we used it for a way that wasn’t bad.”
He explained further: “Our set was enormous, it was a desert, but it was a closed desert, just there for this little group of people and a camera to play these imaginary scenes.”
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