Best Known For
Wes Anderson is known for the quirky and humorous films The Royal Tenenbaums, The Darjeeling Limited and Fantastic Mr. Fox.
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The film is still Anderson's most financially lucrative effort to date.
Because of the success of The Royal Tenenbaums, Wes Anderson was able to gain a much larger budget for his next film, a total of $50 million. The filmmaker felt that this meant the movie "need[ed] to be broader." Due to the rising demand of Owen Wilson as an actor,
Anderson partnered with Noah Baumbach to write what became The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. The story is about an oceanographer and wildlife documentarian of dwindling renown named Steve Zissou who is chasing the elusive -- and possibly imaginary -- jaguar shark.
Though the film is live-action, many of the sea creatures in the film are animated, marking the first use of animation in any Anderson film. Anderson again hired Bill Murray, whom he has called "[some]one that I'm most likely to describe as a genius," to act in the film, but this time as the lead.
The Life Aquatic posed the biggest filming challenge Anderson had faced: "You'd get all these pirates on one ship, and then get the main actors in place, and a boat positioned behind them so the viewer could get some perspective on the scale we were working with, and the boats are heaving back and forth, and by the time you get everything all set up, the sun is gone." At its 2004 release, the movie met with mixed critical reviews and even received some criticism from the core group of fans Anderson had garnered since the release of Bottle Rocket.
Also at the time of The Life Aquatic's release, many critics began noting the importance of father figures in Anderson's movies. Rushmore had shown a young Max Fischer attempting to identify himself with a successful businessman, The Royal Tenenbaums had revolved around a once-famous lawyer patriarch who had been uninvolved in his family for decades, and a huge point of The Life Aquatic's storyline dealt with a character named Ned Plimpton (Owen Wilson) trying to determine whether Zissou is his long-lost father.
In response, Anderson mused: "I finally realized it's just the opposite of what I really grew up with, and for me there's something exotic about it…I'm drawn to those father-figure characters that are larger-than-life people, and I've sought out mentors who are like that, so I relate to them. But they're not my father."
Anderson soon began work on yet another film. Fellow director and fan Martin Scorsese, who once referred to Anderson as "the next Martin Scorsese" in an interview with Esquire and has named Bottle Rocket one of the best films of the 1990s, encouraged his friend to explore India in his next film.
Anderson took this advice to heart and paired it with another desire: "I want to write with Roman [Coppola] and Jason [Schwartzman]." In order to accomplish both of these goals, Anderson, Coppola, and Schwartzman boarded a train in India "to do the movie, trying to act it out. We were trying to be the movie before it existed." The result was 2007's The Darjeeling Limited, starring Schwartzman, Owen Wilson and Adrien Brody.
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