18 year-old Californian actor Tony Revolori was plucked from relative obscurity to play faithful concierge Zero Mustafa in Wes Anderson’s glorious European fantasy caper The Grand Budapest Hotel. Not only does the young performer hold his own against a ridiculously starry ensemble cast, but he’s also the beating heart of the film, forming a wonderfully touching and hilarious double act with co-star, Ralph Fiennes.

We recently had the opportunity to speak with Revolori about his incredible cinematic rites of passage, and the interesting challenges the film threw up (some of which were a little closer to home.)

HeyUGuys: Hi Tony. The film features an incredible line-up of seasoned, award-winning actors. Was it initially pretty daunting to act against the likes of Ralph Fiennes, Willem Dafoe and Tilda Swinton?

Tony Revolori: Definitely. I think I was the only actor [on set] who hadn’t won or been nominated for an Oscar (laughs). It’s really terrifying to act with these people, particularly when you have a substantial part in the movie as opposed to some fleeting role. I really wanted to do my best but all the actors were super nice and comforting so that took some of the pressure away. You still want to be on the same level as those guys, though. Every day I would be reading the script and memorising it word-for-word. I tried to do the best I could of whatever was asked of me.

You all lived together during the shoot, right?

We did. It was in a hotel in Germany. The town we were staying at was very small and they’re wasn’t much to do, so it’s great when you have all those people around you that you share something in common with, and you can chat to. You’re learning all about your cast mates. One day I’d be having lunch with Jeff Goldblum, the next I’d be meeting Jude Law. It was wonderful. Every night we’d have dinner with the whole cast. It really created a family environment.

Do you have any fun anecdotes from your time with those guys?

There were too many to keep count of. I remember the first day I was on set and it was a scene with Ralph and me running across camera. It was supposed to be a pretty simple shot, but I had so much trouble running in the snow. I’d never done that before and it incredibly difficult trying to keep up with Ralph, and he was soon running circles around me. Finally Wes came up to me and said, “look, you’ve gotta keep with up him”. I told him my shoes had no traction but I kept trying and running and I actually ended up falling face first into some snow which was mixed with sheep manure. It was an interesting first day, but after that it was all uphill (laughs).

It’s a very physical role. Was it tough to maintain that level of effort for the whole shoot?

It was a lot more physical than you’d imagine it would be for a Wes Anderson film. Something that fans of Wes’ films might not realise is the amount of takes he does. We’d do around 30 takes of every shot. So, I’d be running round all the time in this little lobby boy costume and carrying loads of props. It was really demanding but it was great to set yourself those challenges and try and beat them. It was a lot of fun.

Were you familiar with Anderson’s films before you were cast? How did you find him as a director?

I’d seen The Darjeeling Limited, Fantastic Mr. Fox and The Royal Tenenbaums and I was a fan of the worlds he creates. He was always willing to help me with all aspects of my performance. Five months prior to shooting we were in regular contact. I’d send videos of me reading the script and he’d reply if there were any changes he thought needed to be made. I kinda left everything up to him and he knew what he wanted.

All that prep must have filled you with confidence before the cameras rolled?

Exactly. Nothing can compare for the actual shoot, but that practice beforehand really helps you to know what the lines are and how they’re meant to be said. It’s great to have that preparation. It’s obviously nerve-racking when coming on-board a big production, but I learned a lot.

Were there any specific directions you remember getting from Wes which really helped you along?

There were always notes on every scene. Sometimes to speed things up, others times to slow it down. He’d occasionally wants things a little more surreal, or I had to use my facial muscles to be more expressive. I like to say [Wes] has 30 different movies going on at once because every take we did was different. The [final] movie could have been something else entirely if he’d picked another take. There’s a variety in everything he does.

Your brother is also an actor. Didn’t you compete with him over this role? How was it when you came home and told your family you had the part? Was he gracious or a little upset?

Both he and I have been acting for quite a while and we’ve auditioned for the same roles many times in the past. Sometimes he’s gotten a role over me; sometimes I have won one; other times we’ve both missed out. We know how to keep it very calm. He’s very supportive of me and I look out for him, too. He was helpful throughout the [filming] process. He’d rehearse with me while I was waiting to fly out for the shoot, offering tips and suggestions and generally helping me feel more comfortable. I was very happy to have him supporting me.


The Grand Budapest Hotel is out now on Digital HD, DVD & Blu-ray from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment.