NEW YORK -- Thursday night, the New York Film Festival toasted the 10th anniversary of Wes Anderson's film "The Royal Tenenbaums." And although a decade has passed, the film's production remains remarkably ahead of its time.
The glossy, kooky tale about a family of off-beat geniuses screened in front of a packed theater at the Alice Tully Hall in Lincoln Center -- with laughter and silences so on-point, they almost seemed rehearsed. Afterward, Anderson and the film's stars, Gwyneth Paltrow, Anjelica Huston and Bill Murray, filed out before a sea of fans to reveal what we didn't already know about the "Tenenbaums."
Everybody's terrified of Gene Hackman.
"The word cocksucker gets thrown around a lot," Murray began, the audience erupting in laughter. "I'd hear these stories, like, 'Gene threatened to kill me today.'" Murray said he responded unfazed: "'He can't kill you, you're in a union!' [or] 'Gene threatened to take all of us and set fire to us.' 'It's a union shoot, it's New York, he can't set fire to you!'"
Though everyone agreed that Hackman, who plays Royal Tenenbaum in the film, was at the very least intimidating, Paltrow saw a sweeter side of "the bear of a guy" and quickly got to the heart of it. "You know, you're Gene Hackman, you can be in a bad fucking mood," she said.
The "Royal Tenenbaums" soundtrack originally had a lot of Beatles.
The film's moody, Nico-laced soundtrack is one of the most iconic in modern cinema, but Anderson originally wanted something different. He didn't have rights to the Beatles' tunes he wanted to use, so in an attempt to secure them, he unleashed his greatest weapon: Gwyneth Paltrow.
"I tried to bribe Paul McCartney," Paltrow said. "Sex and everything," she laughed.
She hosted a private screening for the singing legend. Afterwards, she and Luke Wilson, one of the film's other stars, took McCartney and then-wife Heather Mills bowling. (Sounds like an Anderson script already.)
Though McCartney said he loved the movie, he also said he had nothing to do with the music rights. Nice try, Gwyneth!
Jason Schwartzman was supposed to be in the film.
It's hard to imagine the film without Mordecai, Richie Tenenbaum's trusted fowl friend but, apparently, Anderson had a different bird in mind for the role. Mordecai was originally written as a human character to be played by Jason Schwartzman. He would have been another Tenenbaum neighbor who lived across the street in the attic of an embassy.
Wes Anderson doesn't like to comment on the J.D. Salinger connection.
You didn't have to star on "It's a Wise Child" to make the Tenenbaums-Glass family connection, but Anderson was rather mum on the subject. When asked if J.D. Salinger's work influenced the film, he said, "Yes," in a tone that seemed to mean, "Duh." And that was it.
Bill Murray thought Dudley was really weird.
When asked if he interacted with his character's patient, Murray smiled and said, unapologetically, "No." He went on to say that he didn't want to ruin actor Stephen Lea Sheppard's burgeoning career as a geek and joked that Dudley/Sheppard didn't really need his help.
The pair did, however, share a few meals between takes, where Murray watched Sheppard eat. He paused, "And he's really like that."
Gene Hackman didn't want to be in the movie.
"Gene passed for a year and a half," Anderson said. "He was sort of forced to do the movie and that was not fair, really. I just kept asking him and bothering him. I just wore him down. I didn't really have that much access to him, I don't know how I went about that. Eventually he just kind of caved."
Murray chimed in, "He's weak. Gene is weak."