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Wes Anderson on Next Movie ‘The Phoenician Scheme,’ Owen Wilson

Wes Anderson on Next Movie ‘The Phoenician Scheme,’ Owen Wilson

Wes Anderson on Next Movie ‘The Phoenician Scheme,’ Owen Wilson

Fresh off his recent Oscar win, Wes Anderson made his first-ever visit to the Annecy Animation Festival, where he reminisced about his past while also sharing a bit about the shoot for his next feature.

Anderson took part in a conversation Wednesday aimed at giving animation students insight into his upbringing, influences and pre-Hollywood projects. The event began with a montage of animated moments from his movies, leading the filmmaker to note that he didn’t realize he had dabbled so extensively in animation and that he didn’t even have a clear memory of some of those clips from his own work.

During the session, Anderson was asked about the importance of family in his career, given that he has worked with brother Eric Anderson and is also known for collaborating multiple times with various members of his films’ cast and crew. This led him to discuss the process of making his next movie, The Phoenician Scheme, which he did not directly name.

“This film I just finished making in Germany, there must be a hundred people on the film who have worked with me on other films,” Anderson said. “It could be more who come back — and lots of castmembers.”

He continued, “People who are newcomers on the set or [to] the process of making one of my movies find it strange. It’s not necessarily the way movies are normally made. Probably every director is like that. We have our own strange methods, which began in some ways with the first film I made.”

This led Anderson to share a memory of shooting his directorial feature debut, 1996’s Bottle Rocket, during which co-star James Caan was confused about the filmmaker’s style. Bottle Rocket starred Owen and Luke Wilson, both of whom Anderson had known since his teens and had directed in a short film of the same name earlier in the decade.

“I remember James Caan came to the set of Bottle Rocket, and he was really saying, ‘What are you guys doing?’” Anderson shared. “We were doing things that he thought, ‘This is not how movies are made,’ but he sort of adapted to us. And so having people who we formed our way of working together, that means things happen quickly, and we inspire each other maybe more easily and readily. We’ve already kind of smoothed the road a bit.”

The Hollywood Reporter previously reported that the cast of The Phoenician Scheme includes Bill Murray, who has appeared in numerous Anderson films, and Benicio Del Toro, who co-starred in the director’s 2021 title The French Dispatch. Additionally, Anderson worked on the new project’s script with Roman Coppola, who is credited on five of the filmmaker’s previous movies.

At a different point in the discussion, Anderson was asked about the fact that he has directed Fantastic Mr. Fox and the Oscar-winning short The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar, which are both adapted from works by author Roald Dahl. This led Anderson to explain that he wasn’t necessarily an ardent fan of Dahl’s growing up but had gotten to know the late author’s family members as an adult.

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Anderson went on to reveal that he would someday love to adapt a work by Charles Dickens. “I feel like the writer who I would like to adapt — who I don’t know if I can see the opportunity — is Dickens,” he said. “I would like to do a big Dickens story. They’ve all been adapted. They’ve all been done many times. They’re so interesting. People keep going back to them. They’re so entertaining and so complex.”

When moderator Perrine Quennesson suggested that she would enjoy watching his take on Oliver Twist, Anderson wasn’t quite sure that he was on the same page. He noted that he loves director David Lean’s 1948 feature adaptation of the novel and added, “It sets a high bar to compete with. [Roman] Polanski also did an Oliver Twist [in 2005].”

Toward the end of the conversation, Anderson recommended that aspiring filmmakers find a friend who is also passionate about making movies, which he said he has had with Owen Wilson. This led Anderson to reveal that a photo of himself and Wilson leaping into the air at the Columbia Pictures offices with broad smiles on their faces has been reported to be a shot taken after they signed their deal to make the feature version of Bottle Rocket. Alas, this story is apocryphal, according to Anderson, who claims it was all staged by Wilson’s mother.

“That’s not what we’re doing,” Anderson said of the image that has been printed in magazines and shared on social media as having commemorated the Bottle Rocket signing. “We’re jumping off the stairs because Mrs. Wilson told us to run and jump, and act like we’re celebrating. It’s a complete illusion.”

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