Wes Anderson is thanking his lucky stars for COVID protocols overlapping with the “Asteroid City” production.
The auteur, whose science-filled out-of-this-world film debuted at 2023 Cannes, credited the global pandemic for inspiring the quarantine plotline in his latest script.
“During the intense part of the COVID period, we were writing the script. I don’t think there would be a quarantine in the story if we weren’t experiencing it,” Anderson said. “It wasn’t deliberate. Writing is the most improvisational part of the whole process.”
The subsequent pandemic protocols on the “Asteroid City” set in Spain also grounded the ensemble feature. The film was shot between August and October 2021.
“The making of the movie during COVID protocols, it really suited us. It worked for us,” Anderson added. “I loved that we formed a troupe and stayed together and sat at a long table and had dinner.”
The “troupe” consisted of the star-studded cast including Scarlett Johansson, Bryan Cranston, Maya Hawke, Liev Schreiber, Jeff Goldblum, Rita Wilson, Tom Hanks, Steve Carell, Margot Robbie, Tilda Swinton, Ed Norton, and Adrien Brody. “The French Dispatch” returning actors Willem Dafoe, Jeffrey Wright, and Fisher Stevens additionally appear, along with Anderson staple Jason Schwartzman.
“Asteroid City” is set in a fictional American desert town circa 1955 during its Junior Stargazer convention, with students and parents from across the country traveling for scholarly competition, rest and recreation, comedy, drama, romance, and more. Director Anderson co-wrote the screenplay with Roman Coppola, who is credited with a “story by” for “The French Dispatch” and “Isle of Dogs.” The “Mozart in the Jungle” creator also penned “Moonrise Kingdom” and “The Darjeeling Limited” with Anderson.
IndieWire critic David Ehrlich called “Asteroid City” Anderson’s “best effort since ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel'” and noted that the titular town at the heart of the plot is “as vibrant and elaborate a location as Anderson has ever conceived.”
“It’s maybe the most radical thing that has ever happened in one of his movies — the sort of transformative moment that A.I. could never dream up no matter how much data it ingested — and it spins ‘Asteroid City’ in a cosmic new direction,” Ehrlich wrote. “What until then was just another immaculate Wes Anderson film suddenly becomes one of a kind.”
Additional reporting by Eric Kohn.