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Trivia / The Royal Tenenbaums

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  • Actor-Shared Background: Gene Hackman mentioned in interviews that he was somewhat hesitant to accept the part, as he felt that he himself had been insensitive to his own family at different points in his life. He asked them if they would find him playing this character uncomfortable for their own sakes. They all agreed he should accept the part.
  • All-Star Cast: Gene Hackman, Anjelica Huston, Danny Glover, Ben Stiller, Luke Wilson, Gwyneth Paltrow, Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, plus Alec Baldwin as the narrator.
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  • Deleted Scene: The DVD includes a brief scene where we get to meet Eli's family. His wife is an artist and the scene ends with a full frontal shot of a naked woman who is posing for her.
  • Enforced Method Acting: On the first day Gene Hackman and Anjelica Huston appeared in a scene together, she had to slap him, and later said the slap was real and "I hit him a really good one. I saw the imprint of my hand on his cheek and I thought, he's going to kill me."
  • Fatal Method Acting: Averted. During young Margot's birthday scene in the opening scenes, Anjelica Huston's hair caught fire from a birthday candle. Wes Anderson credited Kumar Pallana with extinguishing the blaze before Huston was seriously injured.
  • Flip-Flop of God: Ben Stiller asked Wes Anderson why his character and his sons wore red track suits. Anderson replied that because Chaz was so obsessed with safety after the death of his wife, red would make everyone easier to see in case of an emergency. Anderson later admitted on the DVD audio commentary that he had no real reason behind the costumes, he just always imagined those characters in red Adidas track suits.
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  • Hostility on the Set: By all accounts, Gene Hackman did not get along well with Wes Anderson, prompting the majority of the rest of the cast and crew to come to Anderson's defense whenever Hackman acted up. One of Bill Murray's unofficial jobs on set was dealing with Hackman, because out of everyone there, Murray had the least patience for Hackman and would slap him back down whenever he started getting too big for his metaphorical britches.
  • Inspiration for the Work: Wes Anderson was inspired by the works of Louis Malle, particularly The Fire Within, where a suicidal man tries to meet his friends. A line from the film is translated into English and appears as "I'm going to kill myself tomorrow."
    • The Magnificent Ambersons was also an influence, with Anderson acknowledging he may have subconsciously selected the main set for its reflection of Welles' production.
    • From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, where the characters Claudia and Jamie run away to live in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, inspired the story of Margot and Richie hiding out in a museum. Having read the book, Anderson said it long stuck with him.
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    • J. D. Salinger's characters in the 1961 book Franny and Zooey inspired much of the child prodigy material. The children of the Glass family in Salinger's work are precocious with an abundance of exceptional talents. Franny and Zooey also features characters wearing distinctive fashions and a character with the name Tannenbaum."Tenenbaum" is the name of a family of Anderson's acquaintance.
    • The film Les Enfants Terribles by Jean-Pierre Melville partly inspired Richie and Margot's relationship. Other inspirations were one of Anderson's childhood friends who loved his sister, and Anderson's interest in the incest taboo; he acknowledged the relationship became more believable when the story was revised to make Margot adopted.
  • Real-Life Relative: Richie and Eli who desperately wanted to be a Tenenbaum are, of course, real-life brothers.
  • Throw It In!: The scene where Richie punches the glass in Mordecai's pen was unscripted, this was improvised by Luke Wilson on the spot, and the scene quickly cuts to Richie and Ralleigh talking up close, this is because when Wilson punched the glass, Wes Anderson thought he seriously hurt himself.
  • What Could Have Been: Gene Wilder turned down the role of Royal Tenenbaum due to his retirement. Warren Beatty and Michael Caine were also considered.
  • Write What You Know: A starting point for the story's concept was the divorce of Wes Anderson's mother and father, though the evolved story bore little resemblance to it.
  • Write Who You Know: Etheline Tenenbaum is loosely based on Wes Anderson's own mother Ann Burroughs, who, after divorcing his father, became an archaeologist. Burroughs' actual glasses are worn by Etheline.


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