Tony Revolori Talks THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL, Physicality and Pace on Set, Bowling with F. Murray Abrahams, and More

     March 22, 2014

In the film, Mendl’s Courtesans au Chocolat is a legendary Zubrowkan delicacy enjoyed by all the guests at the Grand Hotel Budapest.  What does a Mendl’s cake taste like?

REVOLORI:  Don’t know.  I’m allergic to chocolate.  I never tried it and I can’t try it ever.

Oh no!

REVOLORI:  That’s the reaction I always get!  I know, I know, allergic since I was 6 and never had a piece of chocolate ever since.

But at 5, you were raking in the chocolate?

grand-budapest-hotel-tony-revolori-saoirse-ronanREVOLORI:  Oh yeah!  No.  My brother was more of a chocolate monster, and I’d eat the occasional Oreo and I liked Starburst.  And then finally, I tried an Oreo one day after sometime around 6 years old, and my throat swelled up and I couldn’t breathe.  We went to the doctor and he was like nope, no more.  It’s funny for me now, because I can laugh at it, but back then I was like [gasp].  So no chocolate, no peanut butter, but that’s about it.  Death by chocolate, that’s what my gravestone is going to be.  Death by chocolate.  Willem (Dafoe) is going to be death by being pushed off a mountain and mine is going to be death by chocolate.  What a way to go.  But that’s the best way to go, right?  Having a piece of chocolate, and then heaven.

I was going to say you could at least go to peanut butter but you’re allergic to peanut butter.

REVOLORI:  I’m allergic to peanut butter.  I’m screwed, except for like…

So Reese’s is just a nightmare.

REVOLORI:  Oh yeah!  I’m just gone.

Did you ever get to meet F. Murray Abraham who plays the older Zero?

REVOLORI:  I did!  I got to meet everyone.  I was there from the first day they shot, even though I wasn’t shooting, to the last day they shot.  I got to go to the wrap party, yay!  I met everyone, and I did get to meet F. Murray Abraham.  He was nice.

Did you interact during the making of the film, maybe inform each other as to how you’re approaching the roles?

REVOLORI:  No.  We had a vocation, much like Monsieur Gustave to Zero in the film.  We had a vocation to never speak of our characters.  It was unspoken, this thing we had.  We never had to talk about it because Zero, when I play him, is so different from Zero when he plays him.  He has an understanding of the older Zero that I could never achieve, because he has that age, that experience and that knowledge, and I have an innocence and inexperience that Zero at this young age had.  So there was no need for him to say or give me any advice.

I don’t know about you, but if I were ever to run into somebody who played the older counterpart of my character, I would have tried to mimic all the movements that he was doing just to mess with him.

grand-budapest-hotel-tony-revolori-saoirse-ronan-1REVOLORI:  (Laughs)  Oh yeah.  Well I joked, I mean he’s an amazing bowler and we went bowling one time.  I joked, “Well, this is quite amazing!  I’m going to be a great bowler one day.”  The way he does it, he curves it beautifully when he does strikes.  And he’s strong, too.

That’s the movie I want to see.  I want to see F. Murray Abraham and his younger counterpart bowling, traveling through time.

REVOLORI:  Well, I’m not as great of a bowler.  I mean I get an occasional strike here and there, but I’m a decent bowler, somewhere around the 100 area.

We’ve heard about all the takes that you guys had to do.  Was there one day in particular that stands out?  I’ve heard you had to do 40 takes in one particular scene.

REVOLORI:  I feel like you know what you’re fishing for.

I’m not fishing!  I’m not fishing!

REVOLORI:  You’re not fishing, all right.  Well there is one story, and you almost got the number right too, which is quite fantastic.  I’ll go full details.  It’s somewhere around mid-shoot.  They’re shooting all the prison scenes, which I’m in only one.  I go in the first day, shoot for half a day, then go back to Görlitz where we were shooting, which is the next town over where we were all based from.  They shot the prison in this other very cold place.  And so Ralph, Harvey (Keitel) and Wes were all there shooting.  They were talking about the scene when they’re escaping, and they come out of the manhole, and how they’re going to hug each other and leave.  It can’t be too friendly, whatever.  Harvey said, “Well, you know what?  Why don’t I, when I say bye to the kid, I give him a nice little slap?”  Right?  I was not there.  I did not know.  The day arrives on set.  Oh, by the way, just a little thing that probably nobody’s ever told you is that Harvey slept in that prison every day that he was there.  That prison was cold.  It was like -7 degrees Fahrenheit, which was freezing.  I don’t know how he did it.  I guess they warmed it up for him.

But why?

grand-budapest-hotel-tony-revolori-owen-wilsonREVOLORI:  I don’t know man.  He’s Harvey, but he did.  So then back to the other one…  I arrive on set.  It’s this beautiful little farm.  They built this manhole, blah blah blah.  Take one, we’re going and they pick him out, he’s there.  He did a couple of push-ups before, which I thought he was just getting pumped for the scene, but I know what it was for now.  So pushups, stands up, see you later Monsieur Gustave, gah!  Good luck kid!  And my face was so surprised.  I saw the first reaction on tape, because I wanted to see it, and my face was so genuinely surprised.  I didn’t know what to do.  My mouth was gaping.  I just looked forward like what the… and then about 42 takes later we stopped.

Did your cheek get a little numb?

REVOLORI:  Yeah, but we were in…  Okay, first off, he slaps really hard.  He’s an ex-Marine.  He doesn’t play around.  There’s no kiddy slap for you.  He’s an ex-Marine.  If you can’t take it, you’re gone.  And it was cold, it was really cold, so it was like having ice on my face after he slapped me.  So it was horrible, but we did it.  Now it’s at 44.  I saw him in New York and he slapped me two more times.

Oh wow, you guys have a slap counter now.

REVOLORI:  Yeah.  So How I Met Your Mother can’t have anything with me now.

So what take did they use?

REVOLORI:  I have no clue.  Somewhere around 32 or 33 I heard, but I endured those slaps for Wes.  You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.

Would you have been a little pissed if they had used take 2?

REVOLORI:  You know, it’s possible they may have used take 1.  They didn’t tell me.  They’re like no, we used 35.  Probably, I don’t know, but it seemed like they used one of the later ones because the way it played out and everything.

Do you ever still rock the pencil mustache?

REVOLORI:  Yes, I do.

Did you get good at it?

the grand budapest hotel ralph fiennes tony revoloriREVOLORI:  Yeah, but my mom doesn’t buy anymore eyeliner pencils so I can’t do it anymore.  What can I do?  I mean, I loved doing that.  It was nice doing that.  I didn’t know I was going to do it.  I remember going to a fitting one day, or talking with Wes.  I don’t remember what it was, and he said, “Oh, by the way, you’re going to have a mustache.”  I’d seen all these guys come in with these great mustaches and things like that.  I was like, “Oh, but I can’t grow one.”  He was like, “Oh no, don’t worry, you’re going to draw it on.”  I was like, “Oh… well that’s weird, but okay.”  And so, they drew it on and then I had to practice to do it myself, because he didn’t want anyone else to do it but myself.  For the rest of the film, I did it.  I did it recently and I still get it quite nicely in one stroke.  But we were thinking about doing the whole burnt cork thing.  You know, burn the cork, put it on here, but then it burned my skin and that didn’t work.  Like it didn’t burn it, burn it, but it was kind of drying the skin and it didn’t work really well.

I feel like we’re hearing the tales of your face abuse for this movie.

REVOLORI:  Well… I mean, I don’t know.  Zero’s such a character that a lot of things happen to him, but he just lets it slide because he does it for the people he loves.  I love these people.  If I was called back to Grand Budapest 2, a prequel or whatever, I’m there.  I’m there in a heartbeat.  He can abuse me more, but I’m ready for it!  No, he didn’t abuse me.  That’s the wrong thing to say.  He did not abuse me!

grand-budapest-hotel-posterWhat are you working on next?

REVOLORI:  I just finished filming a movie in India, a Bollywood film which was an experience.  It was all done in Hindi and I don’t speak a lick of it.

Are you dancing and the whole thing?

REVOLORI:  No.  It’s very Slumdog Millionaire-type so I don’t know, they might call me back to do another dance number.  I mean, an undance number, but I’m not very good at that.  It’s called Umrika with Suraj Sharma, the kid from Life of Pi.  It’s the first time director Prashant Nair and it’s an amazing film.  I’ve had so much fun making it.  I don’t know, I just hope to keep working now.

What’s your character?

REVOLORI:  My character is called Lalu, which means smart ass in Hindi.  Talk about that!  I was the smartest in the film so what can I say?!

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