When Ralph Fiennes first considered a part in Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel, he knew the role of the eccentric concierge M. Gustave was for him. “Wes said, ‘Tell me which part you’d like to play,’” Fiennes recalls, “which was quite funny because there’s really only one great part.”
Gustave is indeed the film’s plum role, but it required Fiennes, an alumnus of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, to attempt something he wasn’t entirely comfortable with: comedy.
“I’m not naturally a funny person,” he says. “It’s essentially a comedic film and that has to do with timing and rhythm and phrasing. I certainly wanted someone who could guide me, so working with Wes was what you might call the fun part.”
For audiences, Fiennes was the fun part, deftly delivering Anderson’s hilarious lines and proving he can play more than Shakespearean heroes and supervillains. As a bonus, he says, one often overlooked demographic has been noticeably enthusiastic about his role. “Concierges in hotels are very friendly these days,” he says. “They seem to feel like their tribe has been recognized, and they’ve liked that. It’s been appreciated.”
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