No, Wes Anderson Does Not Really Believe in Aliens Despite ‘Asteroid City’ Invasion

Wes Anderson’s 1950s-set “Asteroid City” takes place in a fictional desert town as a cosmic event disrupts the annual Junior Stargazer convention. But does the filmmaker actually believe in extraterrestrial life?

“Well, you know… I wouldn’t rely on my opinions about that in any significant way,” Anderson said to laughter at Wednesday’s Cannes press conference for the film. “The research that went into this, as extensive as it was, it wasn’t anything you’d find in academia.”

“Stephen Hawking insists it is numerically improbable that there would not be extraterrestrial life,” he continued, adding sheepishly, “I don’t really.”

Anderson, who wrote the film with Roman Coppola, was joined at Wednesday’s press conference by Scarlett Johansson, Jason Schwartzman, Maya Hawke, Bryan Cranston, Stephen Park, Jeffrey Wright and Rupert Friend. The cast spoke affectionally about the resonant themes in the movie, which debuted in competition at Cannes Film Festival a day prior and is described as a “poetic meditation on the meaning of life.”

“We don’t know exactly what’s going to happen, how long our lives will be, who will be in our lives or how it will all play out,” Cranston said. “We have to just keep moving forward and telling the story.”

Despite the epic call sheet — the rest of the starry ensemble, a mix of newcomers and familiar faces to Anderson’s cinematic universe, includes but is not limited to Tom Hanks, Margot Robbie, Tilda Swinton, Ed Norton, Adrien Brody, Steve Carell and Jeff Goldblum — Hawke, who plays a teacher in Asteroid City, swears there’s no pecking order on set.

“The lack of hierarchy in the ensemble that Wes creates, combined with the level of storytelling, makes it such a pleasure,” she said. “It feels like there’s no pressure on you because the world around you moves so smoothly.”

Johansson likens the experience of inhabiting Anderson’s filming process to preparing for live theater. “You’re in it. The whole environment is created. It’s a physical, tangible, usable space,” she said. “It’s very fulfilling.”

To build the visually captivating world of “Asteroid City,” Anderson revealed he created a moving animatic storyboard, where he voiced all the characters.

“If you saw that storyboard,” Park said, “It would have been equally as entertaining and brilliant.”

Wright chimed in, “Release the animatics!”

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