“The Grand Budapest Hotel” opened Friday, March 7, in four theaters in New York and Los Angeles, with Fox Searchlight rolling out the film slowly to take advantage of strong word of mouth and favorable reviews.
The comic caper 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).
Other characters include a military policeman (Edward Norton), a prisoner (Harvey Keitel), a hit man (Willem Dafoe), the head of a secretive brotherhood of concierges (Bill Murray), and an octogenarian countess (Tilda Swinton under aging makeup).
Recently, Ralph Fiennes participated in a press event at a Downtown Manhattan hotel to promote the film, along with cast members Willem Dafoe, Ralph Fiennes, Adrien Brody, Saoirse Ronan, Jeff Goldblum and Tony Revolori, and director Wes Anderson.
A few of Fiennes’ highlights from the junket:
On inhabiting the role of Gustave: “It’s hard to describe. It’s imagination, I suppose. There’s a great wealth of information on the page of the screenplay, which immediately gives you a sense of someone. You say dialogue enough times. You talk about what it means or why it’s happening, and then stuff just develops through one’s instinct and imagination.”
On the importance of the uniform: “It was hard to get the clothes right. We looked at real hotel uniforms, and they’re quite thick. They have to be very precisely fitted, but it was funny, once the whole hair was done, [there was] that sense of, ‘Ah, now I look and I see someone.'”
On all those moustaches: “One of the things [Anderson] said was that everyone’s got to have a moustache. There was a lot of discussion … It’s funny, like it may sound superficial but actually those are the things that often help you in. Because a lot of moustaches you can twirl. Looking at these 1930’s pictures, I felt it was a very finely groomed moustache. It just sat above the upper lip. And I obsessed every day, trimming this thing, and suddenly, you find that is Gustave.”
On keeping it simple: “With a part like Gustave, there’s a tendency to push to an extreme level of affectation and flamboyancy and campery. Wes, quite rightly I thought, nurtured it back to something simple and understated. When I saw the film, I realized that he had chosen the takes that seemed to me, from my memory, the understated side of things.”