Wes Anderson is known for his immersive, ensemble-cast filmmaking, and the shooting of The Grand Budapest Hotel was no exception. For his ode to the majestic prewar European hotels of yore, the cast and crew fittingly forwent trailers for communal residence in a small hotel in the East German town of Görlitz. Anderson, ever the meticulous curator, took as much care arranging their lodgings as he did constructing the Grand Budapest itself. “We were all shacked up in this one hotel, you know, like camp. Like movie camp,” Jeff Goldblum told Vulture at last night’s New York premiere. “Not only does [Wes] want to make something very particular and special, he wants to have the process itself as an art project.”
Their stay at the hotel consisted of nightly sit-down dinners — by a chef whom Anderson flew in for the occasion — a small film library, and regular field trips over the bridge to Poland. (Just like the camp you went to, right?) “The lines between your personal life and your film life got very blurred,” said Willem Dafoe, who plays a hit man, Jopling. “You’d go down to breakfast and all the characters would be there, some would be dressed because they had to work … it was always a mixture of people, half in costume, half in their pajamas. It was all mixed up.”
As with any group forced to live together in close quarters, certain roles started to emerge. Tony Revolori, the newest and youngest member of the Anderson clan, who plays lobby boy Zero Moustafa, was the group’s early riser. “I know, everyone hates that,” he told us. “That guy. Why do you have to be the first one up? But I always arrived 30 minutes early from anywhere that I was going.”
On the other end of the spectrum: Bill Murray. “Everyone was like, ‘Bill! Get up!’” Revolori said. Bill was also MIA for the cast’s group workout sessions, which were organized by Bob Balaban. “I was the gym-forcer person,” Balaban said. “I don’t remember seeing Bill at the gym. Or any gym. I think Bill works out on his own, in a special private way that I don’t know what it is.”
Acting as the group’s musician was Jeff Goldblum, a real-life jazz pianist who plays weekly shows in L.A. “I was down the hall from Willem Dafoe, and I had a piano in my room. I’d be playing and singing incessantly and pestering him,” said Goldblum. Perhaps their floor counted as the camp’s creative arts wing, because when Anderson introduced the film just about a half-hour later, he said of Dafoe, “I recently learned what a good dancer he is: I saw him dancing toe to toe with Barishnikov, and I really think he’s better.”
So, there you have it: Your dream of lifting weights with Bob Balaban and/or dancing with Willem Dafoe while Jeff Goldblum tickles the ivories is as simple as getting yourself cast in a Wes Anderson movie. Unless, of course, Anderson opens up an actual camp. Which, honestly? Not a bad idea.