A Wes Anderson film is a happening: a new, hyper-stylised look is established, a cast of cinema greats rolled out, film fans on critical high alert. So it was beyond a big deal for newcomer Tony Revolori to be cast in The Grand Budapest Hotel alongside Ralph Fiennes, Tilda Swinton and Willem Dafoe. The 17-year-old had prior bit-parts in Shameless, Entourage and My Name Is Earl, but this highly entertaining comedic caper is his biggest role yet. Revolori plays wide-eyed lobby boy Zero, the right hand man to Fiennes’s camp concierge, Monsieur Gustave H, as they tear around an imagined Mitteleuropa spa town, chased by villains and military police and helped by sweet souls. Dazed caught up with Tony in New York.
Dazed Digital: This is your biggest film to date – how did you cope with that?
Tony Revolori: Wes likes to make sure that all his films feel small, very much like a student film. It’s not that humongous. The sets are, definitely, the costumes are amazing and some of the shots are big production-wise, but the feeling is very small compared to something like Star Wars. You know everyone in the crew; you go to dinner with all these guys, so it’s very family-oriented.
DD: Where did you film it?
Tony Revolori: We filmed it in Görlitz, Germany. It was great being able to eat dinner with these guys every night, hang out with them, go bowling. It made the film feel very comfortable, especially for someone like myself who has much less experience than some of the other actors.
“It was instinct. From the first moment we met, it went from there. We did rehearse a bit, but I felt like the chemistry was always there from the beginning”
DD: And you clicked really well with Ralph Fiennes, apparently.
Tony Revolori: Absolutely yeah. I was a bit nervous to meet him for the first time, but he was great.
DD: How did you create that comedic chemistry with him?
Tony Revolori: I think it was instinct. From the first moment we met, it went from there. Of course we did rehearse a bit – and even on set it’s about 30 takes for each shot – but I felt like the chemistry was always there from the beginning.
DD: Where do you go after working with Wes Anderson?
Tony Revolori: I would love to work with Derek Cianfrance. Why not? You’ve always got to aim big!
DD: What about being the lobby boy in the film – it’s a classic comedy role. Did you have to watch lots of old films with bell boys to prepare?
Tony Revolori: I saw one – Ernst Lubitsch’s The Shop Around The Corner, which Wes told me to watch – so that I could see the type of thing he was going for. There’s a messenger boy in that and he goes around on a bike and he’s very quick. He’s a comedic character.
DD: Ralph Fiennes has talked about your “intelligent innocence.”
Tony Revolori: Yeah, and Zero has this great intuition. He’s very naïve and innocent.
DD: At first it feels like Zero is going to get trampled over by Gustave H, but as the film goes on, the balance shifts.
Tony Revolori: Yeah, it starts off as a protégé-teacher relationship, but by the end they’re brothers, equals in many senses.
DD: How was it working with Saoirse Ronan?
Tony Revolori: That was great. She’s a fantastic actress. We were hanging out off-set, having fun, walking round the town, bowling. Saoirse was in and out a lot of the time, so we didn’t get too much time, but it was nice. We’re still friends now. She’s 19 and I’m 17.
DD: How much of the film was sets and how much real?
Tony Revolori: It’s about half and half. They found these places, then fixed them up.
DD: Were you able to keep your lobby boy costume and hat?
Tony Revolori: No I wasn’t.
DD: You’re joking!
Tony Revolori: No, Wes took it away. He has it somewhere here in New York, so I’m wondering if I can do a Mission Impossible and get it.
DD: You need a replica at least.
Tony Revolori: Yeah. It would be a great Halloween costume.
DD: Wes Anderson has said that the film was heavily influence by the Viennese writer Stefan Zweig. Did he make you go on a reading crash course?
Tony Revolori: No, he actually never told me it was influenced by Zweig when we were shooting. I think he didn’t want us to be overtaken by what his idea was.
DD: What’s this [he’s fiddling with a Zero chocolate bar]?
Tony Revolori: This is a Zero candy bar that the last journalist gave me. Awesome!
DD: Great journalistic trick – buttering you up!
Tony Revolori: She did a great job – I can’t eat it though.
DD: Why not?
Tony Revolori: I’m allergic to chocolate.