The Next Scorsese
Oscar-nominated writer, producer and director Wes Anderson made his feature length film debut alongside future frequent collaborator Owen Wilson with the drama comedy Bottle Rocket (1996). Since then, he frequently cast the Wilson brothers and comic actor Bill Murray to star in his films: Rushmore (1998), The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004). The talented director, called "The Next Scorsese" by veteran filmmaker Martin Scorsese, is currently busy completing his upcoming project, an animated adventure comedy based on Roald Dahl's children's book, The Fantastic Mr. Fox. Anjelica Huston and Jason Schwartzman reportedly will star in the film.
On a more personal note, the 6' 1" tall filmmaker has been romantically linked to actress Tara Subkoff and Jennifer Wachtell (an employee at Miramax).
Childhood and Family:
In Houston, Texas, Wesley Wales Anderson was born on May 1, 1969, to Melver Leonard Anderson (was in advertising) and Texas Ann Burroughs (was an archaeologist). The middle child of three brothers, Wes has two male siblings: Mel Anderson (older) and Eric Chase Anderson (younger; born in September 1972), a writer and illustrator who does most of the artwork for his films.
After graduating from St. John's School, a private school in Houston (later used as a filming location for his 1998 film Rushmore), Wes studied philosophy at the University of Texas, where he met future collaborator Owen Wilson. He received his B.A in 1991.
Wes lives mainly in New York City, but also keeps a home in Los Angeles.
Behind The Royal Tenenbaums
Starting to make Super 8mm movies with his brothers and staging elaborate school plays (including a hand-puppet adaptation of the 1980 Kenny Rogers vehicle “The Gambler”), Wes Anderson later met future frequent collaborator Owen Wilson at the University of Texas and the two made their film debut with the 1992 short Bottle Rocket. The black and white film is a 13-minute witty, intelligent and hilarious film which follows three friends (played by Owen Wilson, Luke Wilson and Robert Musgrave) as they attempt to become gangsters.
The duo’s short project attracted the attention of producers Polly Platt and James L. Brooks who later helped them to enter their Bottle Rocket into the Sundance Film Festival and secured a $6 million budget to make its feature-length version. Released in 1996, the Bottle Rocket feature-length version was a commercial failure but catapulted Anderson's career by garnering attention from critics. It also effectively launched the careers of stars Luke and Owen Wilson. Veteran film director Martin Scorsese later hailed Bottle Rocket one of his top-ten favorite movies of the 1990s.
“I was never more confident than when we made Bottle Rocket (released in 1996). I was like ‘Wait until they see this. It’s going to be great.’ I had people warning me that it was an odd movie but I knew they didn’t understand. After our first test screening my confidence level was brought down to its current state where it’s stayed. We had 85 people walk out of the 250 seat theatre. We started rewriting the movie even though it was all done. We wrote a new opening and shot all sorts of things. Because we had James L. Brooks producing he could get us more money to fix it. From then on I’m always surprised and pleased to have any kind of audience enjoy my film.” Wes Anderson.
Anderson followed it up with his sophomore feature effort, Rushmore, which he co-wrote with Owen Wilson. The romantic drama comedy, shot in Anderson's high school alma mater St. John's School, stars Jason Schwartzman as the eccentric student of the posh Rushmore private school who is unsuccessful academically but excelled in extracurricular activities, and Bill Murray as a wealthy industrialist who gives a candid speech at the school. It won a bunch of awards for the stars as well as became the Best Foreign Film at the British Independent Film Award while bringing in over $17 million in box-office grosses.
The Royal Tenenbaums (2001), Anderson's next project, proved to be his most acclaimed work to date. The dark comedy film, about three highly intelligent siblings who never reach their potential, was Anderson’s first high-profile commercial success. It featured several notable A-list stars including Gene Hackman as the eponymous patriarch and the failed father, Anjelica Huston as the noted archeologist and the graceful mother, Danny Glover as her accountant and her love interest, Ben Stiller as the genius in international finance and Gwyneth Paltrow as the playwrighting prodigy. Anderson also put regular cats Luke Wilson as the tennis prodigy, Owen Wilson as a friend of the family, and Bill Murray as the famed neurologist and husband of Paltrow's character. The film later won Hackman a Golden Globe and nominated Anderson and Owen Wilson an Academy Award for Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen.
2004 saw the release of Anderson’s fourth feature length film, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. The offbeat comedy, which Anderson co-wrote with Noah Baumbach, stars Bill Murray as Steve Zissou, the once famed, eccentric oceanographer and documentarian plan to exact revenge on a mythical shark that killed his partner. Owen Wilson and Anjelica Huston also reteamed with Anderson to star in this film, playing Murray's presumed son and estranged wife respectively. Additionally, Anderson recruited a new player to his film, Cate Blanchett as the pregnant reporter, Jeff Goldblum as Zissou's nemesis, and Willem Defoe as Zissou's emotionally threatened second-in-command man. The film received nominations at the Berlin International Film Festival and the Satellite Awards. Blanchett also won several awards for Best Supporting Actress.
The next year, Anderson co-produced the independent film The Squid and the Whale, written and directed by Noah Baumbach. The teen drama comedy, the semi-autobiographical story of two boys in the Big Apple dealing with their parents' divorce in the 1980s, stars Jeff Daniels, William Baldwin, Laura Linney and Anna Paquin. The film was a critical success, receiving six Independent Spirit Award nominations and three Golden Globe nominations. It also won awards for best dramatic direction and screenwriting and was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival. Baumbach later received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay.
Anderson is currently busy completing his upcoming project, an animated adventure comedy based on Roald Dahl's children's book, The Fantastic Mr. Fox. He reportedly will recruit frequent casts Anjelica Huston and Jason Schwartzman, with David Walliams in the title role. The film will be distributed by Twentieth Century Fox.