13 things you never noticed in Wes Anderson films
We all know Wes Anderson movies are stuffed with detail. The director made a name for himself filling his films with so many endearing odds and ends that we’re still picking them up years later. Some of them are hidden in plain sight (see Wes Anderson centered) and some of them require a little back story. Either way, here are 13 things you probably haven’t noticed so far in Wes’s filmography.
In the final scene of “Rushmore,” Max motions for the DJ (named Reuben) to switch up the music to “Ooh La La” by Faces for the movie’s closing slow-mo shot.
What you might not know is that the actor playing the DJ is actually Stephen Dignan, namesake of the iconic character Dignan from “Bottle Rocket.” Stephen Dignan was an old friend of Anderson and Owen Wilson from their Texas days. He’s still proud of inspiring Dignan’s name in “Bottle Rocket”—you can read about it at his website.
Richie Tenenbaum’s atlas
In the opening sequence to “The Royal Tenenbaums” there’s a short scene where the kids’ characters are established: Chaz says he needs a check for $187 for an investment he wants to make, Margot has her head buried in a Chekov play. But what you might not have noticed is that Richie has his face in an atlas…
…a nice foreshadowing for his adulthood, which he’ll spend drifting the seas on his boat the Cote Divoire after his tennis meltdown at Windswept Fields.
The other Pallana
We all know Kumar Pallana aka Mr. Little Jeans aka Pagoda, muse of Wes Anderson movies. You might also recognize this guy as the math teacher from the beginning of “Rushmore” and the bookstore clerk whom the gang robs in “Bottle Rocket.” He’s Kumar’s son, Dipak.
Early in “The Life Aquatic,” a film festival director congratulates Steve Zissou on his latest movie. When he asks if she thinks it went well she replies, “No, congratulations—seriously.” The line is taken verbatim from a real-life experience Wes once told about the first test screening of “Bottle Rocket”…
…From Premiere magazine, 1999:
“The darkest hour was the evening of our first test screening, in Santa Monica, at which we had 85 walkouts. The head of the studio said, ‘Congratulations. Seriously.’ [My agent] Jim Berkus said that our goal for the next screening should be for someone to say ‘congratulations’ without having to say ‘seriously’ afterward. And then later that night, my girlfriend broke up with me.”
Fantastic Mr. Fox dressed just like Wes
Wes went to Roald Dahl’s house Great Missenden to submerge himself in the look of the place in making “Fantastic Mr. Fox.” But when it came to Mr. Fox’s style, that’s pure Wes, right down to one specific suit he was fond of at the time:
Dirk’s Christmas present
In “Rushmore” Dirk comes to make amends with Max after their falling out. He not only gives him a thoughtful Christmas gift (a jackknife emblazoned with the Rushmore beekeepers club emblem) but there’s a quick close-up that shows Max unwrapping the present. Wes is careful to include the plaid patch at the beginning of a roll of Scotch tape, additionally showing that Dirk went out and bought the wrapping materials special for this present. Now that’s attention to detail.
Sports commentators during Baumer’s meltdown
In Richie’s tennis meltdown, the two voices of the sportscasters commentating on the disaster are Wes Anderson himself, in the part of Jim, and Andrew Wilson (Owen and Luke’s brother, who played Future Man in “Bottle Rocket”) in the role of Tex Hayward.
Sidekicks wear one ear out
Steve Zissou at one point refers to his (probably) son Kingsley (Ned) Zissou as his sidekick. You’ll notice the funny way he wears his hat once he joins Team Zissou…
Chaz’s dead wife
In “The Royal Tenenbaums” Chaz’s wife died in a freak plane crash in which both his kids and his dog Buckley survived. There’s a quick shot where he looks at a slideshow of her. The person in that slide is Jennifer Wachtell, Wes’s girlfriend at the time. Not sure what it says that he cast his girlfriend in a role as the only one to get killed in a plane crash, but suffice it to say the relationship didn’t last.
The character Oseary Drakoulias in “The Life Aquatic” is a nod to Wes’s friend, music producer and music supervisor George Drakoulias, and Guy Oseary.
At one point in “The Life Aquatic” Oseary Drakoulias sets up a new line of funding for Steve and Ned Zissou. “Philip,” standing behind him is actually Noah Baumbach, director “The Squid and the Whale” and co-writer on “The Life Aquatic.”
…What you might have forgotten is that during filming, Gwyneth Paltrow was dating Owen’s brother Luke. Kinda gross.
You’ll notice that in every movie, whether from “Bottle Rocket,” “Rushmore,” “The Royal Tenenbaums” or “Moonrise Kingdom,” the handwriting in every character’s notes is always in the same hand. That’s Wes Anderson’s writing. Think of it like an invisible version of Alfred Hitchcock making a cameo in all his movies.