Wes Anderson: the complete Slate interview.

Wes Anderson on Moonrise Kingdom, His Directorial Style, and His Love for Music and Childhood Fantasies.

Wes Anderson on Moonrise Kingdom, His Directorial Style, and His Love for Music and Childhood Fantasies.

Interviews with people who shape our culture.
May 25 2012 10:45 AM

The World According to Wes

Director Wes Anderson talks to Jacob Weisberg as his latest film, Moonrise Kingdom, comes to theaters.

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Jacob:  You don’t do background music the way a lot of more conventional films do. The music is often kind of a character in your films to the extent that sometimes, as in The Life Aquatic, you stop and watch someone perform a song.

Wes:  Yes. I’m definitely very interested in music. I don’t usually think I have something particularly unusual that I’m going to do, but I guess I do often put it a little more up front than other movies do, but there are plenty of movies that do that, too. In this one, Benjamin Britten is a huge part of the whole concept of the movie for me.

Jacob:  Back to Facebook here. Anthony Tescano says, “What would you choose for your last meal?” which is a good question for a Texan in Paris.

Wes:  Do you know Hearth Restaurant in the East Village?


Jacob:  I’ve heard of it; I haven’t eaten there.

Wes:  On a night when Marco Canora is there, that would be a pretty good one, I think.

Jacob:  That’s pretty good. What does one eat there?

Wes:  Well, hopefully somewhere along the way he’s going to say, “I made you something special here,” so you should be surprised by that. They have sort of like a stew made with rabbit. That’s a pretty good one.

Jacob:  So your last meal, you would choose to have it chosen by someone who really knew how to cook.

Wes:  I think so, yeah. That restaurant is near where we live.

Jacob:  After Fantastic Mr. Fox, are there any other screenplays you’d like to direct from books?

Wes:  Can I do one other last meal, actually?

Jacob:  You can do as many as you want. You have breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Wes:  Coming back to Europe, do you know The River Café?

Jacob:  Yeah.

Wes:  The River Café, if I could have two last meals. Depending on which part of the world I’m in, I think it would be one of those.

Jacob:  You don’t look like a guy who eats two meals, period.

Wes:  No, I do. I eat regularly.

Jacob:  The next question from Facebook is, “Are there any other books you would want to make movies out of?” I think that’s your only adapted screen play—Fantastic Mr. Fox—so far?

Wes:  Yes. I don’t have anything else in mind that’s adapted from a book. Often a book or a number of books are such an inspiration that I’m kind of doing the book rather than adapting it.

Jacob:  You mentioned that you’re already thinking about your next project. Can you tell us anything about what it is and how far along you are?

Wes:  I made a script for it, but I don’t want to say too much about it—or anything I guess—until a little further along.

Jacob:  Can you stay what stage you’re at? You know what you’re going to do next?

Wes:  Yeah, I know what I’m going to do next. I made a script. It’s a movie I’d like to do in Europe. It’s a European setting.

Jacob:  That’s all we’re going to find out today.

Wes:  Maybe so.

Jacob:  So you’re going to still be spending time in Paris for some time to come.

Wes:  I don’t know where the movie will really happen, but if it all comes together, it’s somewhere on this continent.

Jacob:  You’ve made a bunch of TV commercials and I have to say they’ve been kind of great. How do you think about doing commercials? Some directors hold their nose and do them to make money to finance their other projects. You seem to do them more as little mini Wes Anderson movies. Is that true?

Wes:  It depends. It’s separate. I’ve rarely had a commercial where it’s something I wrote or dreamed up. Usually it’s something I’m hired to do and it’s a very short period of time. If I have time to do one, it can be fun to do them. Sometimes if the people are up for trying something that I’m interested in, it can be a great experience.

A couple of them I did were really more like little shorts that somebody let me do for them. The American Express one you mentioned was something where they really gave me a chance to make something that I had an idea for and I was just free to do what I wanted.

Jacob:  But that’s like two minutes long. That didn’t actually show on television, right?

Wes:  I think it did. It showed on television maybe a year after we did it. I did a Sony telephone commercial very recently that’s stop-motion animated. That was something me and my gang made up from scratch, essentially, and that was very fun to do. I also got to use a lot of people who had worked on Fantastic Mr. Fox.

Also, this kid who’s in the new movie more or less made up this commercial. We edited something together from an interview with him where he describes how this phone works. I don’t want to spend too much time talking about this Sony commercial, but he made up something kind of great and then we animated to that. That was a very good experience, too.

Jacob:  But the brief—if Sony or another company comes to you, do they say, “Please make us a commercial?” or do they say, “Here’s our idea. Can you execute this?”

Wes:  It’s usually a whole range of things. In that case, it was an advertising agency that came to me and said, “Here’s what we want to do,” and I said, “Can I do it this way?” They checked with Sony and Sony said yes and that was it.

But it varies. Sometimes it’s a much more simple matter.