Directors People

Wes Anderson

wes anderson

Wesley (Wes) Anderson was born in Houston, Texas on May 1st 1969 during the summer of love.  His middle name is Wales and he is known for directing and writing eccentric films.  They have a unique narrative and visual style and have been well received by critics and audiences around the globe.  He shares a last name with fellow award-winning director Paul Thomas Anderson.  The two Anderson’s have extracted some of the most memorable performances from several top actors.

Melver and Texas Ann Anderson are Wes’s parents.  They divorced when he was eight years old and had three boys.  Wes is the middle child and his older brother is named Mel.  His little brother Eric is an artist and writer.  Some of his paintings have appeared in his brother’s films.  Wes went to high school at St. John’s School (Houston, TX) and graduated in 1987.  He attended college at the University of Texas (Austin, TX).  His degree was in philosophy and was completed in 1990.    

Anderson made numerous silent films on a Super 8 camera when he was a child.  They starred his friends and brothers.  His first film Bottle Rocket was released in 1996.  It featured his friend he met at University and his friend’s brother.  His name was Owen Wilson and the brother was Luke.  There were a lot of brothers and friends in the beginning.  The movie was based on Wes’s short film of the same name about small time criminals in Texas.  It was a commercial failure, but a critical success.

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Wes Anderson – Photo Credit: John Rasimus

Studio Films

Rushmore (1998) was Wes Anderson’s sophomore film.  It starred Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman, Brian Cox and Olivia Williams.  It helped rejuvenate Bill Murray’s career and ignited a professional relationship that continues to this day.  The budget was close to ten million dollars and it made almost twenty million at the box office.  The reviews were positive and the film won accolades at the 1999 Independent Spirit Awards (Best Supporting Male and Best Director).  The Library of Congress added Rushmore to the National Film Registry in 2016.

Wes Anderson cemented himself as a premier director after the turn of the century.  The Royal Tenenbaums debuted in 2001 and was filled with a talented cast (Anjelica Huston, Bill Murray, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Luke Wilson, Danny Glover and Gene Hackman).  The budget was $21 million and it grossed over seventy ($50 million domestic).  The critics loved it and The Royal Tenenbaums received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay.

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004) was met with mixed levels of success.  The critical reception was weak and it struggled to meet the public’s expectation of Anderson after The Royal Tenenbaums.  The Steve Zissou cast (Owen Wilson, Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum and Anjelica Huston) was strong and followed a peculiar oceanographer’s quest for revenge on the fictional jaguar shark.  The movie failed to turn a profit against its fifty-million-dollar budget and lost $15 million.  Despite its early detractors, the film is now considered a cult classic and seen in a more favorable light by critics today.

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Wes Anderson posing – Photo Credit: smalloranges

Three neurotic and distant brothers bonded during a train ride throughout India in The Darjeeling Limited (2007).  Roman Coppola and Jason Schwartzman wrote the script with Wes Anderson.  The brothers were played by Adrien Brody, Owen Wilson and Schwartzman.  The pundits had mixed feelings, but the majority of reviews were positive.  The film grossed $35 million and had a $17.5 million budget.  The movie is dedicated to the filmmaker Satyajit Ray.

Anderson moved into animation in 2009.  He created a stop motion film based on Fantastic Mr Fox by Roald Dahl.  The film cost forty million dollars to produce and was voiced by an impressive cast (Bill Murray, Willem Dafoe, Owen Wilson, Michael Gambon, Meryl Streep, George Clooney, Jason Schwartzman and Adrien Brody).  Fantastic Mr. Fox was lauded by reviewers and nominated for two Academy Awards (Best Original Score and Best Animated Feature).  It lost both.

Moonrise Kingdom premiered at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival.  The plot revolves around two children who run away from home in a small New England town.  Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward were cast as the kids and the adults included several familiar names (Frances McDormand, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Tilda Swinton and Bruce Willis).  Roman Coppola and Wes collaborated on the script.  They failed to win their Academy Award Nomination for Best Original Screenplay, but the film was a box office hit (close to seventy million dollars compared to the $16 million budget).

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Wes Anderson and Edward Norton – Photo Credit: rasdourian

Recent Films

Ralph Fiennes piloted The Grand Budapest Hotel.  It takes place in the 1930’s and is Anderson’s most successful feature.  The film made over $170 million worldwide from a meager $25 million budget.  The award season was fruitful and it netted nine nominations (Best Film Editing, Best Production Design, Best Costume Design, Best Makeup and Hairstyling, Best Cinematography, Best Original Score, Best Original Screenplay, Best Director and Best Picture).   The Grand Budapest Hotel won four (bolded).

Wes Anderson returned to animation in 2018 with the Isle of Dogs.  It was generated with stop motion and was nominated for the same two Academy Awards as Fantastic Mr. Fox (Best Original Score and Best Animated Feature).  Wes lost again.  It’s unique screenplay and storytelling turned out a memorable classic.  Many gifted actors voiced the film (Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Scarlett Johansson, Yoko Ono, Harvey Keitel and numerous others).

Some of Anderson’s influences include Woody Allen, Roman Polanski, Stanley Kubrick, John Huston, Pedro Almodóvar and Louis Malle.  His peers and critics consider him an auteur (filmmaker with full creative control and a unique and identifiable style).  He has one daughter (Freya) with the Lebanese voice actress and writer Juman Malouf.  They have been in a relationship since 2010 and are unmarried.  They live in Paris.

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Wes Anderson at the Berlin Film Festival – Photo Credit: Diana Ringo

Filmography

TitleYear
Bottle Rocket 1996
Rushmore 1998
The Royal Tenenbaums 2001
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou 2004
The Darjeeling Limited 2007
Fantastic Mr. Fox 2009
Moonrise Kingdom 2012
The Grand Budapest Hotel 2014
Isle of Dogs 2018
The French Dispatch 2021

I don’t think any of us are normal people.

-Wes Anderson

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