One of the many plot twists in Wes Anderson’s sprawling love letter to ex-pat journalism, “The French Dispatch,” is the romantic relationship between the characters played by Frances McDormand and Timothée Chalamet. In the film, McDormand plays journalist Lucinda Krementz, who’s reporting on a student protest breaking out in the streets of Ennui that soon erupts into a “Chessboard Revolution.” Despite her journalistic standards, Lucinda has a brief romance with Zeffirelli, played by Chalamet, and helps the revolutionary pen his manifesto.
However, according to McDormand in a new interview in The New York Times featuring the film’s sprawling cast, she and her writer/director disagreed on the precise nature of her relationship with Zeffirelli.
“I told Wes that I felt strongly that [her character] Krementz and Zeffirelli [a revolutionary played by Timothée Chalamet] did NOT have sexual relations,” McDormand said. “Wes was very diplomatic with me, but did not agree. He asked me not to share my thoughts on this with Timothée. However, I did.”
McDormand said that “Timothée’s reaction was basically, ‘Huh.'” She added that “your differing opinions didn’t seem to change the outcome: Wes was able to convey his choice by having the sound of creaking bedsprings over a shot outside Krementz’s bedroom door. I think it works.”
McDormand also starred in Wes Anderson’s 2012 “Moonrise Kingdom.” As is tradition on any Anderson film, his revolving cast works like a company of theater actors who return time and again to populate his unique vision. “I show up because Wes keeps asking — I love his movies,” McDormand said.
She said that to prepare for the role, “Wes suggested I read [the short story writer] Mavis Gallant’s work. Which I did and enjoyed very much. Lo and behold, a friend of mine was a dear friend of hers in Paris and the executor of her will. My depiction is based on a photo that Wes gave me of Mavis Gallant, photos my friend showed me of her smoking cigarettes and typing and of time I spent with Lillian Ross years ago.”
“The French Dispatch” is now in theaters from Searchlight Pictures.