Wes Anderson is thanking his lucky stars for the COVID protocols that are overlapping the production of “Asteroid City”.
The auteur, whose science-filled out-of-this-world film debuted at Cannes in 2023, credited the global pandemic with inspiring the quarantine storyline in his latest screenplay.
“During the busy part of the COVID period, we were writing the script. I don’t think there would be a quarantine in the story if we weren’t living it,” Anderson said. “It wasn’t intentional. The writing is the most improvisational part of the whole process.
The subsequent pandemic protocols on the Spanish-set “Asteroid City” also founded the ensemble film. The film was shot between August and October 2021.
“Making the film during the COVID protocols, it really suited us. It worked for us,” Anderson added. “I loved that we formed a crew and we stayed together and sat at a long table and had dinner.”
The “crew” consisted of the star cast including Scarlett Johansson, Bryan Cranston, Maya Hawke, Liev Schreiber, Jeff Goldblum, Rita Wilson, Tom Hanks, Steve Carell, Margot Robbie, Tilda Swinton, Ed Norton and Adrien Brody. Returning “The French Dispatch” actors Willem Dafoe, Jeffrey Wright and Fisher Stevens also appear, along with Anderson’s lead Jason Schwartzman.
“Asteroid City” is set in a fictional American desert city circa 1955 during its Junior Stargazer convention, with students and parents from all over the country traveling for academic competition, rest and recreation, comedy, drama, romance and more. Director Anderson co-wrote the screenplay with Roman Coppola, who is credited with a “story by” for “The French Dispatch” and “Isle of Dogs.” The creator of ‘Mozart in the Jungle’ also co-wrote ‘Moonrise Kingdom’ and ‘The Darjeeling Limited’ with Anderson.
IndieWire critic David Ehrlich called “Asteroid City” Anderson’s “best effort since ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel'” and noted that the titular city at the center of the plot is “as vibrant and elaborate a place as Anderson has ever conceived”.
“It’s perhaps the most radical thing to ever happen in one of his films – the kind of transformative moment the AI could never imagine, no matter how much data it ingested – and it spins ‘Asteroid City’ in a new direction cosmic.” Ehrlich wrote. “What it was until then As soon as another Wes Anderson’s immaculate film suddenly becomes one of a kind.
Additional reporting by Eric Kohn.