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Meet Team Zissou
At the heart of any Wes Anderson movie are the characters and—even with the emphasis on fast-moving adventure and comedy in THE LIFE AQUATIC—the characters remain the engine that drives the film. Starting with Steve Zissou—who wears his own oversized ego like a crown yet faces moments where he pleads to his crew, "Don't you guys like me anymore?”— and continuing down through his entire ragtag crew and assorted enemies, each person has his or her own human complexities that emerge when the going gets tough. The characters include:

Steve Zissou

From the very start of writing THE LIFE AQUATIC, Wes Anderson knew that Academy Award® nominee Bill Murray would be Steve Zissou. "Not only is Bill one of my favorite actors, but I know from experience he is someone who allows you to do things differently,” explains Anderson. "He's somebody who has the advantage of being totally uninhibited and at the same time can get everybody around him caught up in his mood. I knew it would be really interesting to see Bill throw himself into playing somebody who is not only energetic and funny but also tormented, angry and very agitated.”

Producer Barry Mendel adds, "Having worked with Bill in ‘Rushmore' and ‘The Royal Tenenbaums,' I think it was always Wes's hope to write a movie for Bill that would really showcase a lot of what he believes Bill can do—and I think they both became very excited about the role of Steve Zissou for exactly that reason. Bill has always had a natural affinity for Wes's dialogue, but here he gives such a naturalistic and honest performance that he provides the audience with the illusion that it comes easily.”

Coming off the acclaim and Best Actor Oscar® nomination he received for "Lost in Translation,” Murray was drawn in by taking on a very different kind of leading role than anything he had ever done—a literal "man of action,” a bold adventurer, filmmaker and hero, albeit one forced to come face-to-face with his own growing powerlessness. In playing Steve Zissou, Murray knew he would have to approach an oceanic force of a man—with emotions that swing from the ecstatically funny to the profoundly sad, but also linger in the vast zone in between. Murray was further intrigued by the screenplay's wide-ranging ambitions.

"This thing really screams,” sums up Murray about the screenplay. "There's just an enormous amount of material in THE LIFE AQUATIC—dialogue, action, visuals, humor and emotion that all come at you in quick bursts. It's also the biggest movie I've ever done in terms of production scope, much bigger than ‘Ghostbusters,' even. And it really creates its own view of a world at sea.”

Adding to the comedy-inflected pathos of Murray's performance as Steve Zissou was the fact that in order to play the role, Murray had to spend months in Italy for the shoot, away from his family. "For me, that was a big part of the journey—I was like this lonely sailor at sea,” he notes, "and it fit with the mood of the story.”

Murray felt there was no way to play Steve Zissou but as honestly as possible, flaws forward. "Steve is obviously deeply flawed, a guy driven by his desires, continually blind to people around him, almost infantile in a sense,” he says. "But more than that, Steve is someone who doesn't put on a mask to disguise who he is. He simply lets fly. And you come to realize that there is also something else about him that allows him to be leading this odyssey, to have held this crew together in the middle of chaos. He has a real strong feeling of mission, and kind of childish sense of wonder that has never gone away. At the same time, he's also the most vulnerable guy in the world, because he's driven by these feelings that he's incapable of really expressing to anyone.”

Murray continues, "Right now, as the film begins, Steve is in the darkest hours before the

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