Wes Anderson wanted the “Asteroid City” ensemble to feel like a theater company.
According to actor Bryan Cranston, the auteur director didn’t have a “hierarchical” list for the A-list ensemble cast — which includes Tom Hanks, Scarlett Johansson, Steve Carell, Maya Hawke, Jason Schwartzman, Jeffrey Wright, Tilda Swinton, Margot Robbie and Jeff Goldblum.
“Wes, the word ‘author’ has been used around so much, but it applies to him,” Cranston told IndieWire on the red carpet for the “Asteroid City” premiere in New York on Tuesday night. “He IS a kind man, not only in his creativity, but also in his spirit and in his generosity. He’s vulnerable and open and sweet and so creative, so specific, complex in all the best ways. And when you make a film with him, you’re part of a company. That’s what actors crave, this community.
The ‘Breaking Bad’ star plays the narrator of ‘Asteroid City,’ which centers on adults and youth who gather for a stargazing convention in an American desert town. Cranston previously lent her voice to Anderson’s 2018 “Isle of Dogs,” but is present on camera during “Asteroid” in between the film’s three acts.
Cranston continued: “Every single night we would get together for dinner, all of us, every night. I’ve never experienced this before. There are no trailers, there is no hierarchy, there is no call sheet. There is no ‘star’ and you are below them. We are all equal, in a socialist way. And it really works.
A call sheet typically tells actors where they need to be on any given day, with the top-rated stars at the head of the sheet.
Writer-director Anderson previously admitted that COVID-19 production protocols worked in favor of his ensemble film, which ultimately centers on an actual quarantine as the city grapples with a possible alien invasion.
“Making the film during the COVID protocols, it really suited us. It worked for us,” Anderson said at the Cannes Film Festival. “I loved that we formed a crew and we stayed together and sat at a long table and had dinner.”
The ‘French Dispatch’ director previously told IndieWire that he considers his frequent collaborators such as Bill Murray, Owen Wilson and Schwartzman as part of his personal ‘family’. He added: “I always like having new people. It expands its entire range. You know, we have other movies.
Anderson also confirmed this week that Murray — who has appeared in Anderson films like ‘Rushmore,’ ‘The Royal Tenenbaums’ and ‘The Life Aquatic’ — was slated to star in ‘Asteroid City’ before the actor caught COVID. The character of him was later played by Carell.
“My experience with Bill is so vast. Bill has been a huge supporter of me from the start,” Anderson said amid allegations of misconduct against Murray. “I don’t want to talk about anyone else’s experience, but he truly is a part of my family. godfather to my daughter. In fact, he christened her. He’s the one who sprinkled the water.” (Murray was spotted at the film’s after-party in Manhattan on Tuesday.)
Focus Features opens “Asteroid City” in select theaters June 16.