Tony Revolori, the young star of Wes Anderson’s latest work, The Grand Budapest Hotel, turns in an engaging and memorable performance as Zero Moustafa, the resourceful lobby boy and trusted confident of Monsieur Gustave H (Ralph Fiennes), the fastidious concierge at the center of the story. Revolori shares a wonderful on-screen chemistry with Fiennes and holds his own with a strong ensemble cast that includes F. Murray Abraham, Mathieu Amalric, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Jude Law, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Saoirse Ronan, Jason Schartzman, Tilda Swinton, Tom Wilkinson and Owen Wilson.
At the film’s recent L.A. press day, Revolori spoke about what it was like to be a part of the Wes Anderson universe, his preparation, working with the amazing cast, the communal family atmosphere Anderson created on set, the specific style of acting, physicality and pace required for the film’s adventure set pieces, the advice Fiennes gave him for his kissing scene with Ronan, the face abuse he endured at the hands of Harvey Keitel in sub-zero weather, bowling with F. Murray Abrahams, and his upcoming Bollywood film, Umrika, directed by Prashant Nair , in which he plays Lalu, a character whose name means smart ass in Hindi. Check out the interview after the jump:
QUESTION: Can you talk about the communal family atmosphere Wes Anderson created for you guys unlike any other set where you guys dined together and you were able to talk. Can you elaborate a bit on that?
TONY REVOLORI: Absolutely. We would have dinners together every night, where you would have an extended, long table of stars, if you will. You’d have Edward Norton to your right, Jeff Goldblum to your left, across from you Ralph Fiennes, and to his side you would have Saoirse Ronan and Bill Murray. To the head of the table you would have Owen Wilson and Wes Anderson. It’s great to be able to talk with these guys and just hang out. You’re not even doing anything. You’re usually talking about the scenes that you did today, how we did them, how they looked, and then you would talk about movies, and then music, and just regular things really, which is quite nice to see people talking about, things that are just quite normal and natural. It takes the whole “Oh my God, there’s Bill Murray” out of the equation, which is quite nice. It was fantastic being able to do so. Even on sets, they would have one green room which is where all the stars would stay. If you’re not being called or anything, you’d stay and wait there. You would talk, again more about past experiences or whatever the conversation was that started. It’s amazing to be able to feel comfortable with these people, especially for me who was someone much less experienced than these veteran actors. They helped me feel comfortable and they helped me build my confidence, which was quite nice, especially for this character. It’s very similar to that experience. He was very shy and insecure and then grows into his confidence.
It reminds me of the table in the movie where all the servants eat.
REVOLORI: Yeah, it’s exactly like that, except Wes is not talking and we’re not ravaging our food.
You share a lot of screen time with Ralph Fiennes. What was that experience like? Was it a mentorship between you two working on the film, with him showing you the ropes?
REVOLORI: Yeah, a bit. Luckily for me, a lot of the people in this movie had a lot of weird names to pronounce, that’s fine. The thing that I did was I let Wes introduce me, so it’s like here’s Ralph Fiennes. Ralph (pronounced like Rafe), that’s good to know. Here’s Saoirse. Saoirse? I would have never guessed that. You see her name and you think Say-or-rise or Seersee.
She probably would have punched you if you would have said something like that.
REVOLORI: Yeah, she probably would have karate-chopped me like in Hanna. Working with Ralph was amazing. The mentoring thing, he kind of gave off the impression to say look very closely and you’ll pay attention and learn a lot. I’m not going to tell you anything, just look and pay attention, and that’s the feeling I got from him and that’s what I did. I picked up a lot from him. He’s absolutely a genius in what he does, and I did pick up a lot from a lot of the actors, and subconsciously probably in two years, on the next project I work on, I’ll be doing something and say, “Oh, so that’s what I took from The Grand Budapest Hotel.” It was great. I remember I did ask him for one piece of advice, because I was nervous about doing the kissing scene with Saoirse. As you can imagine, I went up to him and I asked him, “So what do you think? What should I do? I’m kind of nervous.” He looks at me, stares at me for a bit, smiles and says, “Well you tell her… I’m sorry if I get aroused, and I’m sorry if I don’t.” I didn’t tell her that but it made me laugh. The way he said it was amazing and that’s what I needed. I needed someone to make a joke of it and I felt comfortable from that point on. So, he knew exactly what I needed to have done.
How did that kissing scene work out?
REVOLORI: Really good. We broke all our costumes like four times. You can imagine we went wild. Wes was like, “Go for it.” So it was a lot of throwing the hat, and as you saw my uniform, maybe you can’t see, but it has a lot of buttons. She would grab it and rip it, and the buttons ripped, which Milena (Canonero), our head of costume was absolutely furious about. It was great, and I had a lot of fun. We were laughing after every take. It was beautiful.
Did you have an idea of how you wanted to go into this film acting-wise? And how did you adapt or change your style to fit into a Wes Anderson world? Did you do your research beforehand with his films?
REVOLORI: I had seen his films before: The Darjeeling Limited, The Royal Tenenbaums and The Fantastic Mr. Fox, so I knew of his work. I didn’t concern myself to watch any other of his films because I wanted to focus on this project. I didn’t need to see his other body of works. This is a movie I needed to pay attention to, and he has a very specific style of acting and everything, so he worked with me for months before. I would tape myself reading the script, I would send it to him, and he’d say, “Well, why don’t we try saying the line this way?” So subconsciously, after these months of practice, I was there. When I was on set, it just came naturally and I knew what I needed to do. Once I was with Ralph in costume and on sets, everything just clicked even further. And so, I didn’t come in with a way to approach it, because he’s very particular. He knows what he wants and there’s nothing I needed to do. I just needed to follow his directions and go forward. Of course, it’s not limiting with him, because he’s allowing these suggestions to be made and allowing you to go forward. It’s beautiful to have someone who knows what he wants, so that way you can go forward and truly do what the director intends for this movie to look like.
What about the physicality and the pace of everything that’s happening? Is that something that you got from the page? Did you talk about that, or did that evolve on set?
REVOLORI: Well, I mean, it’s a bit of everything really. Being on set, it’s a lot of running and a physicality thing for me. I was a character. I was a person who did most of the things. I hung off of a building for a bit, which was nice, even though I’m scared of heights. It’s great. You don’t pay attention to these things when you’re on set, you just do them. You just know you have to make this character feel as realistic as possible in his films, and there are no thoughts of okay, I’m running at three times the speed that I normally would, or anything. You just feel like okay, he wants it this way, how do I make this look real? Just forget everything else, this is my world, this is how they act, this is how they talk, this is how they move and that’s it.
There are a lot of adventure set pieces on this film. Were there any that were a lot of fun to be a part of, like the ski-chasing scene?
REVOLORI: I’d like to say that I was a part of that, but sadly they were miniatures which were beautifully made. I enjoyed that very much, but everything else was me, including falling out of the building. It was really nice. It’s quite amazing the way he does these things. He makes it feel like it’s just a small student film, yet you’re doing all these huge stunts and there are these huge sets that he builds. It’s quite amazing and I really enjoyed myself, as did many of the other cast, all of the other cast really. Everyone really enjoyed themselves very much. It was great to be running around and doing everything for 40 takes at a time and working with these actors. It was quite an experience.