When it comes to talk about an director such as Wes Anderson, there’s often an general idea of what his films will bring. This is nostalgic, complex plots focused on lonely characters with dysfunctional families, 1960s-1970s soundtracks (with the exception of ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’) and perfect symmetry in every shot. There however, nothing of this could work as well as it does, without an accurate casting. And what makes an accurate casting in a Wes Anderson film?
While it is true that his main characters are often depressed or lost in life, they all have an charismatic charm in them, that makes the viewer not only feel interested in their adventures or problems, but to support them.
It doesn’t matter if the character has been a bastard all of his life (like Royal Tenenbaum in ‘The Royal Tenenbaums’) or if it is an former legend, trying to prove his value, by pushing his team into a dangerous mission (like Steve Zissou in ‘Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou’), Anderson takes care of creating sympathy for them. But to manage this, he requires an actor that may portray both sadness and quirky, charming pride at the same time – without turning into an overacting parody of itself.
And while it is also true, that Anderson constantly brings an recurring bunch of actors to appear in his works (especially Bill Murray, Owen Wilson and Jason Schwartzman), he also has brought some different casting in every film – with many of them, becoming surprises to see working with Anderson. After all, who would have believed that Bruce Willis could fit so perfectly in one of his most accessible films, like ‘Moonrise Kingdom’?
So, under that idea, here is a list of ten actors that could bring the sadness and charm to work in a Wes Anderson film:
1. Michael Keaton
Keaton’s career started as a comedian during the 80s and while many people didn’t believe that he could get into dramatic roles, through the years he has proven the opposite. He has remarked his way in both types of roles, from playing some really eccentric characters (yes, like ‘Beetlejuice’), to serious, real-life people (like Robert Wiener in ‘Live from Baghdad’ or, more recently, Walter Robinson in ‘Spotlight’) to even eccentric, serious roles, in existential comedies (like Riggan Thomspon in ‘Birdman’).
So, just like fellow heavy figures that have worked in Anderson’s films (such as Jeff Golbdlum or Willem Dafoe), Keaton could fit just fine with that combination of an eccentric, though guy in a personal crisis.
2. J. K. Simmons
Besides his recent popularity because of ‘Whiplash’, Simmons has worked in all kind of films. From drama to comedy, to even action or superhero films, the actor has appeared in basically, all kinds of supporting characters – some of them, directed by people such as the Coen Brothers or Jason Reitman.
So, there is no need to explain his powerful talent when it comes to talk about changing roles, whether it is an small or big part; nor to say that, as it has been seen in works from the mentioned directors, he can play dry or dark comedy perfectly – which is an requirement in any Wes Anderson film.
3. Steve Buscemi
Buscemi could be described as one of the most recognizable character actors, ever. He has been able to fit from Adam Sandler’s films, to the universes of directors like Tarantino, Burton, the Coens or even Scorsese (considering Boardwalk Empire as part of his legacy).
He is quite charismatic and works either as a calm, classy guy, to a wild, strange fellow – but always having some charm on it. So, he could fit in a Wes Anderson film… in any kind of character. From an quiet guy in the background (such as Bud Cort on ‘Life Aquatic’) to a creepy villain (like Dafoe in ‘Budapest Hotel’), Buscemi could do anything.
4. Aubrey Plaza
Plaza is known for her dry humour. For playing odd, awkward, sarcastic girls, that not many other actresses could play – or at least, not with that particular charisma of hers.
Her charisma allows her to play in the sentimental area as well. Examples of this could be seen in ‘Parks and Recreation’ or ‘Safety Not Guaranteed’. So, a person that can manage sarcasm, dry humour and sentimentality at the same time is a person that could be perfect for an Wes Anderson film.
And while certainly it could be said that they’ve worked together already (after all, Anderson produced Roman Coppola’s ‘A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III’, where she briefly appeared), seeing her under Anderson’s direction, could be an interesting exercise.
5. John Goodman
Like Buscemi above, Goodman is a terrific character actor in all kind of films. From comical appearances in Saturday Night Live, to complex characters in several, different films (‘The Big Lebowski’, ‘Argo’, ‘Flight’ and most recently, ’10 Cloverfield Lane’), the actor has proven that he can do all kinds of characters. He can be both intimidating and classy at the same time; an hero, or a villain; a nasty fellow or a supportive guy.
Goodman can just fit anywhere – and with his charisma and charm, and experience in dry humour films (as we have seen in every Coen Brothers’ film where he has appeared), he could be an great add in Anderson’s universe.