It's interesting to hear Wes Anderson explain what Bill Murray movies inspired him to cast the comedian-turned-urban legend in every film that Anderson has directed made since 1998's "Rushmore." For an entire generation that grew up on "Ghostbusters," it's what Anderson saw in "The Razor's Edge" -- produced only because Murray agreed to star in "Ghostbusters" -- and "Tootsie" that meant more to him than the usual films that are mentioned in pre-1998 Bill Murray discussions. But, that's the thing: Since Murray's collaboration with Anderson began, the actor has been on another level -- at least critically. A case could be made that Murray owes this success to Anderson. Though, as Anderson explains, he doesn't agree with that.
Anderson is promoting the Blu-ray release of his critically acclaimed film, "Moonrise Kingdom" -- the story of a young boy and girl who run away from the authority figures in their lives to search for some sort of happiness. Here, Anderson discusses a fairly wide range of topics (on top of the news that Johnny Depp will not be in his next film, "The Grand Budapest Hotel"): From the disappointing box office returns of "Fantastic Mr. Fox" to his collaboration with Brad Pitt for two Japanese commercials -- one that still has never been seen -- to his anticipation for a very non-Wes Anderson-type film, "Looper."
A dog dies in "Moonrise Kingdom" and somehow you got me to laugh. Usually that doesn't happen.
[Laughs] No, no. Well, it might be that it's got an arrow sticking out of him. There's a certain degree of cartoon treatment of it -- I think you get a pretty clear idea that no dog has actually died.
There has to be an art to that, right? Not many can pull off "funny dog death."
Yes, yes. I mean, the characters are sad, certainly, about it. But I do think it probably rubbed some people the wrong way anyway.
The other scene I'm curious about is the one that involves someone in the background on a trampoline while an important conversation is occurring. When do you think, Do you know what would make this scene perfect? A trampoline.
Well, as I recall, that was just -- you know, sometimes when you're working on a scene, you sort of don't quite know what's going to happen next yourself. Even if you're making it up. So, that was one of those ones where I think it was just sort of spontaneous. Jason Schwartzman's character is meant to tell them to go have their own private conversation. And as the words came out of his mouth, that's sort of where it seemed appropriate to have it. But, I don't know. I'm trying to explain something that I have absolutely no ability to explain.
I love that Bruce Willis was in a Wes Anderson movie. I hope he's in more.
Well, I had a great time with him. You know, I felt like he totally handed himself over to a completely different kind of movie. I mean, he does every different kind of variety of movie, I guess -- and he's done so many different kinds over the years. But it is, sort of, the scale of the movie is so different from what he's most known for and he was just completely on board -- almost like he was acting in a touring theater company, or something like that. He was just a part of the group.
I feel like lately he's been looking for better roles. Like "Moonrise Kingdom" and now he's in "Looper." It reminds me of when you first started working with Bill Murray -- people forget that his last few movies before "Rushmore" were things like "Larger Than Life" and "The Man Who Knew Too Little." If you hadn't had the idea of casting Bill Murray in smaller indie films, would another director have figured that out?
Well, I cast him, not so much because of the movies that I had seen him in for the 15 years before that. It was more the movies I had seen him in the three years before that. Which were "Mad Dog and Glory" and "Ed Wood" -- he was great in "Ed Wood." And also his role in "Tootsie." So, I sort of think the work he was doing recently he had already begun doing that kind of work. You know, not just broad, bigger comedies -- but also doing more unusual and dramatic roles. And, also, he had done this movie, "The Razor's Edge," and he's great in that movie.
He agreed to do "Ghostbusters" in exchange for "The Razor's Edge" being produced.
Exactly. That's exactly right.
You have your own genre now, "A Wes Anderson Film." If you weren't Wes Anderson, what would be the first one from this genre that you would watch?
That's ... that's a tough one [laughs]. I don't know! I don't know that I can give anything more than a glib answer to that. But, I will say, I'm very eager to see "Looper." It's good?
I thought it would be because I loved [Rian Johnson's] "Brick." And I also liked "Brothers Bloom," but "Brick" especially. And I've been looking forward to that one. That's a way of evading that question.
OK, so the Wes Anderson movie that you would watch is ... "Looper."
[Laughs] Exactly. "Looper" because I'm out of the country, I'm behind. But I'm very eager to see that one.
You did a commercial with Brad Pitt. Why don't you and Brad Pitt do a movie?
You're talking about the one where he's in the little village and the car goes by, right?
Well, we did two. This was for this Japanese cell phone company and we did two. And the good one, they never showed. We did another one that is on a beach and it's much better. And I wish that was the one that people had seen because we did a better job with it. But, he was great. It's sort of inspired by Jacques Tati -- and he was very into that. And we had a great time.
Could that happen in the future? It seems like a nice collaboration.
Yeah. Well, I would love to do a movie with him. it was a very fun collaboration -- albeit a 48-hour one.
It's shocking to hear that there is something Wes Anderson directed that stars Brad Pitt, though no one has seen it. That makes no sense.
I know. I tried to get it. I mean, I have it on my laptop, but I'd like them to let us put it on DVD sometime. It's a nice little piece, but they haven't been eager to do that. They told me they've done many Brad Pitt commercials -- this company, over the years -- and I managed to make the worst-received one ever. It ranked lowest in degree to which Brad Pitt is recognizable by their audience. Of all of their commercials, it was the least number of people who actually managed to notice it was Brad Pitt. I guess because he was had both a mustache and a hat. And he's wearing yellow terrycloth, which probably undermines some of his persona. Or, at least, it just goes in another direction -- one of the many he's taken, but it goes in a new one.
Which is what someone like me likes about it: That it's not immediately recognizable as Brad Pitt.
Well, that's probably what he liked, too. But, yeah, it didn't go over like gangbusters, I suppose, in Japan.
Anytime I hear your name, "Fantastic Mr. Fox" is always mentioned. For a movie that is so beloved as that one, did it surprise you how poorly it did at the box office?
Well, it's surprising to me ... Well, I will say this: I don't usually have high expectations -- but they were higher than that! So, for most of my movies, the fact that it makes over $20 million dollars, I usually think, Well, we're OK with that. As long as it's not a hugely expensive thing. That movie, though, was an animated, talking animals, based on a Roald Dahl, with George Clooney and Meryl Streep and Bill Murray? That, to me, seemed like, "We could at least do $30 million." And I think it made like $21 million or $22 million. It did quite badly. But, there was also not a decisive force behind it. There was confusion ... at one point we were with big Fox, then we were with Fox Searchlight, and it was kind of back and forth. And there was a change in their animation department -- there was just some confusion. But, I don't really know that that is really any explanation. I mean, it just may be that stop-motion furry animals, done by me, means $21 to $22 million.
Mike Ryan is senior writer for Huffington Post Entertainment. You can contact him directly on Twitter.