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BERLIN – Director Wes Anderson and his star-powered cast kicked off the 64th annual Berlin Film Festival with a lively press conference Thursday ahead of the premiere of The Grand Budapest Hotel.
Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Ralph Fiennes, Tony Revolori, Saoirse Ronan, Tilda Swinton, Jeff Goldblum, Willem Dafoe and producer Jeremy Dawson all attended the event, which was so packed that many reporters were turned away at the door.
“We are promised very long hours and low wages and stale bread,” joked Murray when asked why so many A-list actors continue to work with Anderson, the helmer of The Royal Tenenbaums, The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou and The Darjeeling Limited.
“You get to see the world and we’re allowed to let Wes live this wonderful magical life where his dreamscape comes true,” he added.
Anderson said the film was inspired by the work of Stefan Zweig, the Austrian novelist and playwright. “It’s more or less plagiarism,” he joked.
“I think people in Europe are surprised [Americans] don’t know this writer,” said Anderson of the famed author, whose career spanned the 1920s and ’30s.
The opening night film, set in a fictional European country, follows a notoriously promiscuous hotel concierge named Gustave H. (Fiennes) who is given a painting after one of his conquests (Swinton, in heavy makeup), is killed. But the woman’s son (Adrien Brody) vows revenge on Gustave by framing him for his mother’s murder.
Anderson said the cast spent some time watching mostly 1930s films together for inspiration. “We had a little library of movies,” he said, which included Edmund Goulding‘s Grand Hotel, Ernst Lubitsch‘s To Be or Not to Be, The Good Fairy, Love Me Tonight and The Mortal Storm.
Anderson revealed that the lead part had been written with Fiennes in mind, but that when he brought the English actor the script, he let him choose the part.
“One of the best ways to get an actor to not be in your film is to offer them a part,” he joked.
“This character is quite grand and theatrical and has to recite poetry,” Anderson added. “This is the person I thought will make this a real man.”
Fiennes, who was working with Anderson for the first time, said: “I think to be in a film where the filmmaker is allowed to make the film he wants to make is very rare.”
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