Actors, director want you to take a ride on the ‘Darjeeling’

Joe Shearer

Photo Courtesy of Fox Searchlight

Credit: Ron Soltys

After a few weeks of limited engagement, writer/director Wes Anderson’s latest film, The Darjeeling Limited, finally hits theaters across the country this weekend. Anderson, co-writer/actor Jason Schwartzman and actor Waris Ahluwalia recently made a last-minute stop to Cleveland to promote the new film about three brothers struggling to leave behind the past.

Those familiar with Anderson’s previous films — Bottle Rocket, Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, and The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou — will discover new surprises in Limited, but will also be happy to see similarities present in all of the director’s work.

For instance, no matter with whom the director co-writes his screenplays, the sparse dialogue always seems to carry a lot of weight. Think of Max Fischer (played by Schwartzman) in Rushmore when he scolds an actor who forgets a line in his play. “Every line matters!” This new film, which is co-written by Schwartzman and Roman Coppola, is no different.

“The movie’s really the combination of all three of our points of view,” Anderson said. “It’s a very personal movie. I’ve never worked on a movie where that was so much the point. As we were writing it, we often made a choice that there’s some information we know about these characters that we’re not going to share with the audience.”

Also, one might take note of the relationship between parents and kids Anderson keeps coming back to and reexamining. Before working on the new film, Anderson said he made a choice not to make parents part of the story because he was worried about repeating himself. It didn’t stick.

“The death of the father — that became a huge part of the story, and then (the brothers) go see the mother,” Anderson said. “In the end, I feel like that’s part of my approach to my work. Maybe I’m just going to follow a certain train of thought. I’d rather just do what I think I need to do and in the moment, what I think is right. If that means my movies are kind of linked to each other, well, that’s OK with me.”

Something crucial to Anderson’s films is his and his co-writers’ ability to create characters. Although labeled comedies, there’s something about the performances in these films that makes the characters much more than people trying to generate a laugh.

“They’re real,” Schwartzman said. “When we were writing this, it always felt like these three brothers were real. It didn’t seem like we were inventing characters or making funny guys. It seemed like these were people that were going through something profound and needed it and (it was something) we could relate to.”

One character audiences will find amusing is the chief attendant on the train, played by Ahluwalia. He always seems to pop in at all the wrong times, always wearing an intimidating straight face half-covered by a long, black beard.

“When Wes says ‘don’t smile,’ you don’t smile,” Ahluwalia joked. “When the lens goes up, I don’t smile at all anyway, no matter what kind of lens it is.”

Whether they’re smiling or not, Anderson’s signature characters always make their storybook surroundings seem authentic. It’s one of many constants viewers can pick up on while watching Limited and any other Anderson movie. Schwartzman said he thinks the shared connections between the films are what make them so special and unique.

“If they’re on a DVD shelf together, they’re like a little collection,” Schwartzman said. “They work together well.”

Contact all correspondent Joe Shearer at [email protected].