Wes Anderson doesn’t win a lot of awards. In his seven-film career, he’s gotten just two Oscar nominations, one for screenwriting on The Royal Tenenbaums and one for Best Animated Feature for Fantastic Mr. Fox.
His latest, Moonrise Kingdom, was somewhat of an awards wild card. Though it enjoyed critical praise and a healthy run in theaters ($45.5M domestic gross on an estimated budget of $16M), it premiered at Cannes in May. Regardless of Anderson’s history with awards, an early in the year premiere can make the possibility of awards recognition an uphill battle. You’re not only trying to convince people that it is an awards worthy film, you also have to remind them that it exists.
But there is hope for Moonrise, yet. Though it was overlooked for any SAG or Director’s Guild nominations, Moonrise won the Gotham Award for Best Film, and was nominated for five Film Independent Spirit Awards including Best Feature, Best Director, Best Screenplay (Roman Coppola and Wes Anderson), Best Cinematography (Robert Yeoman) and Best Supporting Actor (Bruce Willis). The film also snagged a Golden Globes nomination for Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical. The big question is whether or not Anderson will get any Oscar nods this Thursday, perhaps his first for directing a non-animated feature.
Though he’s currently shooting his eighth feature, The Grand Budapest Hotel with Bill Murray, Jude Law, Saoirse Ronan, and Owen Wilson, Anderson took a few minutes to speak with EW about awards, his favorite unsung heroes of Moonrise Kingdom, and casting Bruce Willis in an unlikely role.
EW: What has been your role in getting Moonrise back in front of people for awards season?
Wes Anderson: I sort of did my job back in May in terms of helping to get the movie out into the world and I’ve just been working on this new movie for months and we’re in the thick of it right now. But if anybody’s interested in the movie [Moonrise] now, that’s great for me.
Do you care about awards?
I might if I won more! I’ve had movies that were very nicely received. If I had a movie that got four Oscar nominations, and had to fly to Los Angeles because it might actually win something, that probably gives you this whole other perspective that I haven’t experienced. For me, I’m pretty focused on just working on my next project. I haven’t had the opportunity to get that bug. It’s like when people make hit movies, suddenly you know what it’s like.
What about for your actors? Your casts are usually ensembles which don’t really fit in the established awards categories for performances.
When we did The Royal Tenenbaums, Gene Hackman got a prize from the Golden Globes. People really liked him in the movie, but he didn’t get an Oscar nomination or anything. Bill Murray has worked with me a million times and he’s never gotten an Oscar nomination for any of the ones with me. Basically nobody gets nominated when they work with me.
Jim Brooks was my mentor. He and Polly Platt (the late producer of Broadcast News and Say Anything…) kind of gave Owen Wilson and me our careers. And practically every movie Jim makes wins Oscars. It’s more or less a lock.
But actors can rely on the fact that I can’t deliver them that. I do always have a very good experience with the casts on my films, and I really enjoy working with actors, but I can’t promise awards.
EW Note: James L. Brooks is one of seven directors who have won Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Screenplay for the same picture. In his case, for 1983’s ‘Terms of Endearment’. He’s also directed nine Oscar-nominated performances.
Bruce Willis never seemed like an obvious choice for a Wes Anderson film, but his performance as Captain Sharp is so great. What made you want to cast him in this project?
I just thought I ought to have somebody who would be unquestionably believable as police. And I like the idea of somebody with a real movie star persona playing a character that’s really nothing like him. So I liked the idea of him playing a policeman for the Nth time, but being a different kind of policeman from what we’ve seen him as before. His character is quite passive and depressed, but authority is in his blood.
I’ve loved Bruce in so many movies over the years and I just thought I would take a shot at it and see if he’d be interested. He couldn’t have been more encouraging. I really had a great time with him.
We had a pretty great group on this one with a number of people I hadn’t worked with before. Frances McDormand, who I’ve known for a long, long time and I’d never worked with. I’d wanted to work with Tilda Swinton for some time too. And Edward [Norton] and I had been talking about working together for 8 years.
You also collaborated with a new Costume Designer, Kasia Walicka-Maimone (Moneyball, Capote) to create some iconic looks.
She did a great job and really helped me significantly. She took on this small budget movie with a lot of costumes. That was a pretty gigantic number of scout costumes to deliver.
The Suzy and Sam characters were so great. Is there any chance we might get to see those characters again in a future film?
That’s a good question! It might be fun to do that. The thing is, when you have kids that age, they change so fast, they’re different people already. They change so quickly. But yeah, I’m going to contemplate that.
Are there any unsung heroes of Moonrise Kingdom?
I have three. One is Bob Balaban who plays The Narrator in the movie and is kind of the host of the whole thing. He took something that was essentially exposition and made it into character. I loved working with Bob. He even did some other things for the movie afterwards. We made a little animated short about the different books that the girl in the story reads, and he narrates different animated passages from the books.
Another is Jason Schwartzman who plays Cousin Ben. He’s kind of a fixer who comes in late in the game and helps them kind of change course. The other one is Harvey Keitel. Jason and Harvey are sort of the heroes of the scout camp and both of them were just with us a few days and did something that was so much better than what was on the page.
And it’s great, all three of them are coming to Germany to work on The Grand Budapest Hotel too.