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The Grand Budapest Hotel: Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum
Willem Dafoe and Jeff Goldblum at a press junket for "The Grand Budapest Hotel" | Paula Schwartz Photo
The Grand Budapest Hotel: Willem Dafoe & Jeff Goldblum
Willem Dafoe and Jeff Goldblum at a press junket for “The Grand Budapest Hotel” | Paula Schwartz Photo

The Grand Budapest Hotel” opened Friday, March 7, in four theaters in New York and Los Angeles. Fox Searchlight plans to roll out the film slowly as word of mouth grows about the comic caper. The story follows the misadventures of M. Gustave (Ralph Fiennes), the dashing concierge of the opulent hotel of the film’s title, and his protégé, the loyal and naïve lobby boy, Zero Moustafa (newcomer Tony Revolori).

RELATED: Wes Anderson on Miniatures, Paintings and Casting Ralph Fiennes in “The Grand Budapest Hotel”

Recently, Willem Dafoe and Jeff Goldblum participated in a press event at a Downtown Manhattan hotel to promote the film, along with fellow cast members Ralph Fiennes, Adrien Brody, Saoirse Ronan, and Tony Revolori, and director Wes Anderson.

RELATED: Ralph Fiennes on Playing a Dashing Concierge in “The Grand Budapest Hotel”

Here are highlights of the two veteran actors discussing what it’s like to work inside the wonderful world of Wes Anderson:

The Grand Budapest Hotel: Willem Dafoe
Willem Dafoe at a press junket for “The Grand Budapest Hotel” | Paula Schwartz Photo

On entering Anderson’s very detailed world, and whether it’s easy to drop into character, since they’ve worked with him before: 

Goldblum: “It’s not easy, but it helps. It helps.”

Dafoe: “To me, that’s the quality of being there, how you do your actions, and how you receive the design, the world, what’s happening, the breath, that’s performing. It’s not the “Oh, I’m gonna do this gesture” or “I’m gonna be charming here” or “This is my motivation.” That stuff is part of it, and that’s what everybody focuses on, but the real meat is someone saying, “You gotta walk from here to there.” And it’s the walking, not the other stuff.

“I’d like to make that distinction, without getting too heavy about it, because people always assume, “Oh it’s all worked out for you, what fun is it for you?” That’s the fun. The fun is inhabiting and becoming and making. The other stuff is kind of academic. That’s part of it, and that can be fun too, but with Wes, he’s also making these things for you. Because once you sign on, you know, you’re arriving and he’s got a beautiful line drawing of you in the costume. You see the costume. It’s beautiful.”

The Grand Budapest Hotel: Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum
Willem Dafoe and Jeff Goldblum at a press junket for “The Grand Budapest Hotel” | Paula Schwartz Photo

How Anderson’s world resonates with them:

Dafoe: “It’s an invented thing. It doesn’t remind me of anything, no. It’s pure artifice. Now, in retrospect, when I see the movie, it points to a lot of things and reminds me of a lot of things. Not necessarily from my experience, but from my imagination.”

Goldblum: “It’s a beautiful and complete and imaginative world, and we’re all close to the set. Adam Stockhausen and Wes collaborated on making this department store (the location of the hotel) into this Wes Anderson world. So, you do leave that, but I like what somebody wrote, that even after seeing the movie and getting chills at the end, they had to decompress into a world that was less vibrant-looking, where people were less distinctive and exuberant and brave. I felt that, you go away feeling like you’ve been on an acid trip of some kind, and you’ve entered some kind of dream place.”

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Paula Schwartz

Paula Schwartz is a veteran journalist based in New York who is passionate about the movies. Her idea of heaven is watching three movies in a row. She’s written for various outlets, including the New York Times, Showbiz411, More and MovieMaker Magazine. For five seasons, she contributed to the New York Times seasonal movie blog, Carpetbaggers, where she covered major awards events and interviewed stars like Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Gary Oldman and Helen Mirren.

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