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Among those on hand were returning Anderson castmembers Bill Murray, Harvey Keitel, Willem Dafoe, Bob Balaban and Jeff Goldblum, who was celebrating his second Wes Anderson film, after having a small role in The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou.
When asked why he wanted to work with Anderson again, something that seems to be true of many A-list actors, Goldblum said that Anderson’s artistic, actor-friendly approach was what made him and others want to return.
“He’s one of the most interesting, enjoyable people to work with, and he’s an important filmmaker and artist, and all the best actors love to work with him because he’s a real artisan and beautiful storyteller, but an actor’s director,” Goldblum explained. “I think within these theatrical stylish ways he has of presenting the character that he’s worked out, I think he wants actor types to make it truthful and fill it in in an authentic and emotional and soulful way and bring it to life. He’s very kind of precise, but also at the same time free and trusting of actors and loves to have a communal experience and wants to have an art project out of the process of making a movie as well as making something that’s going to be beautiful at the end.”
Dafoe concurred, telling The Hollywood Reporter that Anderson had a very strong idea of what he wanted his character to be. “So a lot of my job was just to inhabit that character and keep it human and breathe life into it,” Dafoe said.
The same was true for newcomer Tony Revolori, who said that he was just there to give life to Anderson’s vision.
“He knew this character inside and out; he knew what he wanted.… So I came in and I was just a body, but it was all him,” Revolori told THR.
Revolori was one of the few first-time Anderson castmembers, but it seems the young actor is already a fan.
“It was really, really great,” he gushed of the experience of working with Anderson. “He’s an amazing director. He knows what he wants and he’ll get what he needs from his actors, but he’s very calm and relaxed, so you feel very calm and relaxed, truly. He’s a genius at what he does. He’s amazing.”
Balaban said that Anderson’s distinctive vision is what keeps actors coming back for more.
“Everybody wants to work with Wes as much as possible because you know that whatever movie he’s making is going to be something really special and unique,” he told THR. “All his movies are different and yet they’re all the same, in that he manages to find this special world that’s very real and very human and very touching.… So we’re actors, we do what anybody says, when they call us, if we’re not busy and we like it. But you don’t get called that often to be in things that you know are going to be special that will be so much fun to do. Working with Wes on a set is really unlike anything I’ve ever done.”
Dafoe added that for returning stars, it helps to have a feeling of trust with a familiar director.
“I always think when you return to a director, you understand them better. Trust is always a big issue, I mean deeply, about giving over to a director and really help them do what they need to do,” he said. “And that’s not a problem at all with Wes. I’d do anything for him.”
Another much-discussed Hollywood reunion is a possible Independence Day sequel. While star Will Smith may not be reprising his role, Goldblum indicated he might be back for a second film, adding that he’d met with the first film’s writer Dean Devlin and director Roland Emmerich and that they’d shared their vision for a follow-up.
“I haven’t read anything, but I had a talk or two and a little meeting with Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich, and they have ideas about doing it and an interest in doing it and are trying to cook something up from what I gather,” Goldblum said. “They told me a little bit about it and it seems I have something that might occur. I look forward to that and we’ll see how it goes, fingers crossed.”
Meanwhile, at the film’s afterparty, Fox Searchlight head Steve Gilula told THR that Anderson’s core fan base gives him high hopes that the film will do well, starting when it’s released in select theaters on March 7.
“He has a very devoted, loyal audience that can come out in big numbers as they did on Moonrise Kingdom,” the Fox Searchlight co-president said. “We think this film has such strong elements of both comedy and drama and romance, and even action and suspense, that they’re elements that will appeal to an even broader audience. The beauty is with his core niche audience, that will launch the movie, and then I think we can go much farther beyond that.”
It’s a big couple of weeks for Fox Searchlight as its 12 Years a Slave has nine Oscar nominations. When asked what his thoughts were going into Sunday night, Gilula joked, “I have no fingernails left. I’ve chewed them off.”
In all seriousness, he seemed to be prepared to accept whatever happens: “The ballots are in; the die is cast. I’m thrilled to be in the game. I’m thrilled that we’re a major contender but what’s most exciting is people around the world have seen 12 Years a Slave. It’s a very, very significant film that’s going to last forever.… Going into Sunday night, it’s going to be what it’s going to be. We always like to win, but it’s impossible to predict.”
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