Gosford Park: Mark Tillie
October 24, 2001 at 04:00 AM EDT

The one thing I have not done is the murder mystery,” says the 76-year-old Robert Altman, who has been directing since the 1950s. ”And I’m always interested in genres I haven’t done before.” The story — about a killing on a prim British estate in 1932 — may be new turf for one of Hollywood’s most respected maverick directors, but having a sprawling cast certainly isn’t. In addition to the names above, Stephen Fry, Maggie Smith, Kristin Scott Thomas, and Richard E. Grant helped fill out the Altman ensemble.

So what’s an auteur to do after a bit of branching out? ”Some commercials,” says Altman. ”With a picture like this, [the producers] don’t pay any money. They knew I wanted it and had me over a barrel. But hell, frankly, Scarlett, I just don’t give a damn.” In that case, let’s hope he’ll never go hungry again.

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