30 Little Known Facts About ‘The Royal Tenenbaums’


When they were kids, Owen Wilson shot Andrew Wilson with a BB gun. Royal shooting young Chas purposefully with a BB gun was written into the script for this reason. When the close up of Chas’ hand is shown with the BB still stuck inside him, it is actually Andrew’s hand.


If you watch carefully, you can tell this is a different hawk than used at other times, The Royal Tenenbaums
If you watch carefully, you can tell this is a different hawk than used at other times, The Royal Tenenbaums

After filming had started the hawk, “Mordecai,” was kidnapped and held for ransom.


The original inspiration for the film was Owen Wilson telling Anderson he should write about his family. The Tenenbaum family that emerged didn’t end up resembling his own family, however, it is about a family with three kids and divorced parents.


Eli Cash’s character is a parody of Cormac McCarthy and Jay McInerney.


The character of Raleigh St. Clair is based on a real neurologist, Oliver Sacks, who seemed like a “character” Anderson thought would fit well in the movie.

“Before you’ve ever heard of him, you might have read a profile of him in the New Yorker back when the New Yorker wrote profiles about people you’d never heard of,” Anderson says. “I feel like that’s part of the New York the movie is kind of about.”


 The Royal Tenenbaums
The Royal Tenenbaums

The reason Chas Tenenbaum and his sons wear bright red suits is so that they can find each other in a crowd if there was ever an emergency.


Gene Wilder and Anjelica Huston were both disinterested in the movie until Wes Anderson added scenes specifically to make their roles more enticing.


When Gene Hackman initially turned it down, Gene Wilder was offered the role of Royal Tenenbaum and also turned it down.


The Royal Tenenbaums
The Royal Tenenbaums

Originally the character Margaret Yang in Rushmore was going to lose part of her finger. When that didn’t work, Anderson wrote it into Margot Tenenbaum’s character.


The mother, Etheline Tenenbaum was based on Wes Anderson’s mother who pursued a career as an archealogist after her divorce. To get into character, Anjelica Huston wears his mothers real glasses throughout the film.


Henry Sherman was the name of Wes Anderson’s landlord.


There is no such thing as “dalmation mice.” The ones you see in the movie are regular mice with sharpie-ed spots.


Wes Anderson’s explanation for the 70s vibe of the movie is that he wanted to convey that the characters are trapped in the past, where they’d all peaked.



During the McCain/Obama race someone made a series of attack ads “on McCain’s behalf.” The Wes Anderson one awesomely spoofs The Royal Tenenbaums and his general style.


The Royal Tenenbaums was heavily influences by the Louis Malle film Le feu follet (The Fire Within). Richie quotes this film when he says “I am going to kill myself tomorrow.”


While blowing out the candles on Margot’s birthday cake, Anjelica Huston’s hair caught on fire.


Wes Anderson had quit smoking prior to The Royal Tenenbaumsnot so much after filming.


Like Margo Tenenbaum, Wes Anderson grew up with two siblings and divorced parents. Rather than plays, he directed Super 8 films staring his brothers.


The character of Richie Tenenbaum was loosely based on Bjorn Borg, who wore sweatbands and retired from the game of tennis at 26.


The Royal Tenenbaums almost cost us Arrested Development!

The narration and the way the film follows each family member is similar to Fox’s critically acclaimed television sitcom Arrested Development. Jason Bateman, one of the show’s stars, described the show as “The Royal Tenenbaums shot like COPS.”Arrested Development creator and head writer Mitchell Hurwitz said that when he saw The Royal Tenenbaums, he already had the idea for Arrested Development in mind and thought, “Well, I guess I won’t be doing that,” but subsequently changed his mind.


Wes Anderson has a cameo as one of the commentators when Richie’s tennis breakdown is shown. The other commentator is Luke and Owen’s brother, Andrew Wilson.


The Tenenbaum family dog, Buckley, is named for Jeff Buckley.


In the book From The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, the characters run away and live at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This was the inspiration for Margo and Richie doing the same in the movie.


The family was named after a college friend of Wes Anderson, Brian Tenenbaum, who has a sister, Margot. Brian makes a cameo as a paramedic.


In keeping with Anderson’s previous films, there is an underwater shot. In The Royal Tenenbuams, there are 3 people in the water. In his previous film, Rushmore, there were two people in a water shot. In his first film, Bottle Rocket? One.


Anderson said:

I think, among other themes, one of the big ones in the movie has to do with failure, and the effect it has on people. In the case of this family, all these children…they peaked early.


Co-writers Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson are BFFs in real life. They met and college and were even roommates.


In the scene where Royal and Pagoda meet in Battery Park, Anderson had Pagoda stand blocking the Statue of Liberty because he thought the landmark would be distracting, a decision that upset Gene Hackman.


The illustrations in the Tenenbaum home were created by Anderson’s brother, Eric.



LOL at this allude to Richie’s bathroom scene in an “if Scream was directed by Wes Anderson” spoof (extra fun fact: Scream director Wes Craven and Wes Anderson both have degrees in philosophy). Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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