Why Gene Hackman initially rejected the Royal Tenenbaums

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Gene Hackman is the center of Wes Anderson’s eccentric family in The Royal Tenenbaums, but he initially rejected the role for several reasons.

One of Gene Hackman’s most beloved roles is the lead character of Wes Anderson. The Royal Tenenbaums, but he initially turned down the role. The film follows the attempt at reconciliation by the Tenenbaum family, led by the ex-Patriarch Royal as he attempts to rectify his relationship with his three adult children while trying to win his wife back from his new suitor. While The Royal Tenenbaums presents a set of stars made up of names like Angelica Huston, Ben Stiller, Gwenthyth Paltrow, Bill Murray and the Wilson brothers to form the Tenenbaum family, Royal was really the heart of the film, which is why its specific cast was so important.


Anderson actually wrote the role of Royal Tenenbaum with retired Oscar-winning actor Gene Hackman in mind, which made it difficult when Hackman turned down the role. He had also written Matriarch Tenenbaum Etheline with Angelica Huston in mind, although she luckily signed on much faster than she did. Tenenbaums counterpart. With Hackman becoming increasingly difficult to fit in, Anderson had to switch to other actors in similar ways to direct the film, with revered Hollywood legends Michael Caine and Gene Wilder temporarily being considered royals. After giving numerous reasons why he wasn’t going to play the role, Hackman’s agent finally convinced him to sign the Wes Anderon film.

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With Hackman being one of Hollywood’s most famous actors since the 1960s, it might have been easier for Anderson to take the first rejection and move on, but he persisted. The reason he desperately wanted Hackman to play Royal was because, frankly, the movie wouldn’t work without the right actor in the role. Ever since director Wes Anderson wrote Royal specifically for Hackman, he knew the exact way and type of quirks needed to bring Royal to life, and only Hackman would satisfy. In The Royal Tenenbaums Extras from Criterion Collection, Hackman reveals that the number one reason he turned down the role was because he didn’t like someone writing a role especially for him. Hackman was offended that Anderson thought he “knew”Him enough to write a role how he thought Hackman would play it depending on who Anderson thought Hackman was.


Hackman’s reluctance to gamble The Royal TenenbaumsThe distant and callous patriarch was also due to a more personal reason dealing with his own family. In an interview with The New York Times, Hackman revealed he recognizes himself in Royal as he recounts times when he has been callous and distant to his ex-wife and children. The Enemy of the State The actor was apparently worried about making his family uncomfortable by portraying this onscreen, so he asked his kids for permission to play Royal. His family then encouraged him to accept the role, and it was a driving force that Anderson ultimately forced him to sign for the film.

While most of Hackman’s reservations about joining the film seemed to be about his pride or family retaliation, Anderson explained that the most important reason he didn’t accept the role was money. In an interview with Vulture, Anderson revealed that The Royal Tenenbaums had a small budget that was clearly used to involve his movie star, so Hackman wouldn’t be getting the type of paycheck he was used to. The entire film cast was paid to scale, which meant that while Hackman was going to have an intensive and important role, he was likely going to be paid less than the hefty salary he was receiving for small roles. While Hackman has always stood out for being very antagonistic on set, it is remarkable that his agent convinced him to sign the film, making The Royal Tenenbaums the beloved movie that it is today.

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