Arts | Top 10 Wes Anderson Characters
Photo: Fox Searchlight
Director Wes Anderson is known for creating colourful, intricate worlds within his films, each featuring a host of oddly charming characters played by some of the most recognisable actors. A master of disguise, he transforms beloved A-Listers into whimsical strangers, each disappearing into their performance and becoming somehow unrecognisable yet distinctly familiar all at once. In his latest film, The Grand Budapest Hotel, a host of A-Listers including Ralph Fiennes, Tilda Swinton and Adrien Brody are transported to the magical Republic of Zubrowka for a crime caper. Here we take a look back at Anderson’s best creations over the years.
10. Gustave H (Ralph Fiennes) in The Grand Budapest Hotel
Starting the list with the latest addition to the world of Wes Anderson is the charming hotel concierge with a rakish past. Gustave H is the central character of Anderson’s latest film, a meticulous and eloquent gentleman who finds himself caught up in a scandal when one of his elderly lovers (played by Tilda Swinton) drops dead. An actor better known for playing Lord Voldemort, Ralph Fiennes was perhaps an unusual choice for the whimsical world of Wes Anderson, but he was a tour de force.
9. Margot Tenenbaum (Gwyneth Paltrow) in The Royal Tenenbaums
If only every performance Paltrow gave was as brilliant as her turn in Anderson’s third feature film. A troubled genius playwright whose life is defined by the secrets she keeps, Margot became a style icon for teenage girls everywhere with her oversized fur coat and kohl-rimmed eyes. Compelling despite rarely saying a word, she exudes elegance, and is the kind of girl that many twenty-somethings still aspire to be. An honourable mention has to go to her brother Richie Tenenbaum (played brilliantly by Luke Wilson), as it was their tragic love story that really made Margot such a compelling character to watch.
8. Mr. Fox (George Clooney) in Fantastic Mr. Fox
Criminally underrated, this 2009 film lost out on the Oscar for Best Animated Feature to Up, but had the timing been a little better, Anderson would have been a certainty for the award thanks to this brilliant adaptation of Roald Dahl’s fabulous children’s book. And who better to play the King of the Forest Mr. Fox than the charismastic King of Hollywood, George Clooney? Dashing, daring and proof you’re never too small to dream big, Mr. Fox is one of Anderson’s most human characters despite being, in his own words, “a wild animal”. His chemistry with Meryl Streep (who played his wife, Felicity Fox) was also absoloutely brilliant, which is no mean feat when you’re both animated foxes.
Photo: 20th Century Fox
7. Steve Zissou (Bill Murray) in The Life Aquatic
It’s hard to pick a favourite Bill Murray performance from the myriad in Anderson films, but his role as the central character in The Life Aquatic is his most prominent. An eccentric oceanographer obsessed with killing the shark that ate his parter, Steve Zissou is a character that could only exist in a Wes Anderson film. Although the film disappointed critics, Murray’s performance is not to be missed.
6. The Whitman Brothers (Adrien Brody, Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzman) in The Darjeeling Limited
This might be cheating a little, but it’s impossible to seperate Peter, Francis and Jack. Undertaking a train journey across India in the persuit of self-discovery, the Whitman brothers encompas the full spectrum of family relationships, and it’s impossible for anyone with siblings not to identity at least a little with them. They are flawed and often foolish, but the literal journey they undertake in the film means their transformation is all the more satisfying.
Photo: Fox Searchlight
5. Dignan (Owen Wilson) in Bottle Rocket
Another frequent collaborator with Anderson, Owen also helped to write Wes’s first feature film Bottle Rocket, which might explain why he was so great in it. Obsessed with grand schemes and heists, Dignan is incorrigible in the most endearing way, and despite being a criminal, he’s so harmless it’s impossible not to root for him. This was also Wilson’s debut film performance, and arguably remains one of his best.
4. Zero (Tony Revolori) in The Grand Budapest Hotel
A newcomer to the world of Wes Anderson, hopefully the pair will team up again, because his performance as Gustave H’s lobby boy in The Grand Budapest Hotel was flawless. Zero is transformed from wide-eyed sidekick to hero throughout the course of the story, and it is seeing his life unfold in the confines of the Budapest that
3. Suzy Bishop (Kara Hayward) in Moonrise Kingdom
Whilst Anderson’s films frequently feature A-Listers, for Moonrise Kingdom he tried a different approach, casting unknown Kara Hayward as one of the main characters. Hayward was a great choice for the capricious and precocious twelve year old Suzy Bishop, who is obsessed with vinyl records and takes her binoculars and her cat everywhere she goes. The kind of kid you wish you could have been, Suzy is wise beyond her years and incredibly perceptive. Her sweet romance with penpal Sam Shakusky (and on-screen chemistry with actor Jared Gilman) are really at the heart of the film, and it’s something quite different from Anderson’s previous work.
Photo: Focus Features
2. Royal Tenenbaum (Gene Hackman) in The Royal Tenenbaums
He may be retired now, but once upon a time Gene Hackman was one of the most recognisable actors on the face of the planet, and thirteen years ago he played a role than would become iconic in the Anderson canon: the absentee father of three former child geniuses who fakes illness to get back into their lives. He’s absurd, clueless, and a terrible parent, but somehow impossible not to like.
1. Max Fischer (Jason Schwartzman) in Rushmore
Having starred in five out of eight of Anderson’s films, Schwartzman is clearly one of Wes’s favourite actors to work with, and with good reason. His turn as eccentric teenager Max Fischer was his very first film role, and blew audiences away. Max is a highly intelligent high school student who eschews studying in the pursuit of extra-curricular activities, drawing the attention of Herman Blume (Bill Murray) a disillusioned industrialist. They strike up a friendship, but also compete for affections of the same woman. An unlikely coming of age story, but undeniably a great one.
Photo: Buena Vista Pictures