It’s remarkable what two peculiar little films can do: Neither ”Bottle Rocket” nor ”Rushmore” lit a fire at the box office, yet everyone wants to work with Wes Anderson. ”Oh, I was fascinated to meet him,” says Anjelica Huston. ”We had eggs Benedict together, and — this is pure Wes — he had never had them before. He seemed extremely young and very serious. Like he contains all ages, if you know what I mean.” At that meeting, the now-32-year-old writer-director asked Huston to play Etheline — an archaeologist and the matriarch of the Tenenbaums. The movie finds the precocious family, which includes three children (Gwyneth Paltrow, Ben Stiller, and Owen Wilson), struggling to reunite after the departure of the father, Royal (Gene Hackman).
”I had Hackman and Huston in mind from the beginning,” says Anderson, whose ensemble also includes Bill Murray as their son-in-law. ”I usually write for [specific] actors. And, really, most of them ended up in the movie.” Beyond its bountiful cast, ”The Royal Tenenbaums” marks a departure for the director — he’s finally moved his milieu outside of his native Texas. ”I’ve always been fascinated with New York,” he says, explaining that the film was inspired by his favorite Gotham eras — the 1920s through the 1950s. ”But it doesn’t ever actually say ‘New York’ in the movie. It just has places that are New York sounding — like Archer Avenue and the 375th Street Y.” Oh, you mean the Upper, Upper, Upper West Side?