THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL
At the beginning of THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL, the Young Writer finds himself
in conversation with the enigmatic Mr. Moustafa, the hotel's owner, who sets
about relating the story of how he rose from the ranks of junior lobby boy to
become the proprietor of the Grand Budapest.
Playing Zero Moustafa in his youth, during the period when he first arrives
at the hotel, is newcomer Tony Revolori. Since Zero was intended to hail from a
fictional Middle-Eastern country, Anderson originally started seeking out actors
in Lebanon and Israel, as well as North Africa, and various European immigrant
communities - but eventually he found Revolori, who has a Guatemalan background,
during auditions in Los Angeles. As soon as he met him, Anderson recognized the
same open earnestness that characterizes Zero. And when he introduced Revolori
to Fiennes, the comedic chemistry was immediately clear.
Fiennes was impressed by Revolori's preparation, but also by his strong
natural instincts. "Tony as Zero brings this wonderful quality of intelligent
innocence. He's innocent but he's also very smart," says Fiennes.
For Revolori, working with Anderson was "an experience unto itself, unlike
any other." He continues: "I felt like a part of his family, and immediately
everyone - actors, crew - helped bring me in and started teaching me and giving
me advice, which was a fantastic thing."
This was especially true of Fiennes. "He really helped guide me. He's become
an older brother in a way," Revolori muses.
Their rapport was obvious to everyone on the set. Observes Willem Dafoe:
"Ralph has his British reserve, his dry humor and his beautiful sense of
language, and Tony is just so fresh and easy. The minute I saw them together, I
thought it was a fantastic combination."
Playing Zero as an older man is F. Murray Abraham, who, as he details the
history of his character's rise to his current stature, comes to serve as the
story's main narrator. Abraham was thrilled to take on the role of raconteur.
"One of the things that I do well is tell stories," he notes. "I have a
granddaughter, I'm very close to her, and telling her stories and listening to
her tell me stories is one of the joys of my life. I also believe that's a
tradition upon which films are based - storytelling - although those great tales
that really say something seem to have been lost somewhere. Wes insists on
saying something, and in this film, which I believe to be his best, he tells a
story that will have you smiling the whole way through."
Especially interesting to Abraham was the notion that the adult Zero Moustafa
has weathered both war and personal tragedy, and yet manages to maintain a
lightness of spirit. "Zero has led a very full life and lost everyone who was
dear to him, but he's not cynical. To me that's a very important facet of Zero,
and it happens that I share that facet. I believe in the future of humanity and
I believe that people are basically really good at heart. I do."
Abraham enjoyed working in tandem with Jude Law, who plays the Young Writer.
"Jude is one of my favorite actors. We have met many times earlier in our lives
but I've never worked with him - and we made a very strong connection on this
film," he says.
As for Anderson, with whom he's working for the first time, Abraham says:
"Everybody feels the same way about Wes that I do - that he's amazing. Do you
know the book 'The Little Prince' by Saint-Exupery ? Wes Anderson is the little
prince grown up."
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