1. You never know when you may be writing a movie.
In 2005, the press tour for Anderson’s The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou ended in France, where, coincidentally, Schwartzman was acting in and Coppola working on sister Sofia’s Marie Antoinette. Anderson moved in with Schwartzman.
Wes Anderson My first idea for the story was really to have Jason Schwartzman, Roman Coppola, and I write together, daydreaming together.
Jason Schwartzman After work, Wes would bounce ideas off me for a movie about three brothers on a train in India. That would lead to personal stories, and then we would laugh. After about three weeks of that, he said, ”Why don’t we bring Roman in on this?” And I said, ”In on what?” And he said, ”This movie we’re writing.” And that’s when I realized we were writing a movie.
Roman Coppola Wes read us a sketch of the opening sequence: ”Okay, there’s a guy running, trying to get the train. He doesn’t make it. Another guy, one of the brothers, runs past him, gets on the train.” Actually, very much the way it appears in the movie.
2. Stay in constant contact.
After Antoinette wrapped, Anderson remained in Paris, while the other two flew back to Los Angeles.
JS We would do these five-hour conference calls. I had to get a new long-distance plan, but it was great. I looked forward to them every day. We would always give each other little homework assignments, like ”Tonight, Roman and Wes will watch this movie and I’ll watch this movie.”
3. Live your movie — but pack light.
Seven months into writing, the trio decided to travel to India and take a train journey through the country to fully experience their characters’ lives.
JS I think the line was ”Let’s go to India and not come back until we have a draft finished,” which is exciting and scary if you have a nonrefundable plane ticket. Most of the places we went ended up in the movie. We would act out scenes in real time in the real places. We must have seemed kooky.
RC India is such a colorful, staggering, beautiful, unusual place. We would all squeeze into the dining booths and observe all the other passengers.
JS Wes brought this printer because he wanted to print out each draft so we could walk around with it — kind of like Owen [Wilson]’s character in the movie having his assistant bring his printer.
WA We had gone to great lengths to get the right power adapter for the printer. Roman had it set up to work, but it had to go into the power for the electric razors. I didn’t realize that. I plugged it into the normal power supply on the train. I fried it.
JS I came out of the bathroom and they were laughing. They thought it was funny that it seemed like it could be part of the movie.
4. Blur the lines between what’s real and what’s fiction as much as possible.
WA There’s a lot of just sitting there racking your brain, learning all about these characters.
RC We never spent much time talking about the story. It was more about what’s happening to these guys now.
JS It was like an archaeological dig, I suppose. It seemed like we weren’t creating anything; we were just documenting it.