The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) Poster


The movie is set in a fictionalized version of Manhattan, with such imaginary addresses as "100 N. 30th Avenue" (the address of the hotel where Royal stays) or the "375th Street Y," itself inspired by NYC-area facilities operated by the Young Men's Hebrew Association.
Jump to: Cameo (1) | Director Trademark (5) | Spoilers (4)
The hand that is seen with the BB lodged between its knuckles is not Ben Stiller's, but Andrew Wilson's, brother of Owen Wilson and Luke Wilson. When they were children, Owen fired a BB gun at Andrew's hand and the pellet has been there ever since.
Gene Hackman mentioned in interviews that he was somewhat hesitant to accept the part, as he felt that he himself had been insensitive to his own family at different points in his life. He asked them if they would find him playing this character uncomfortable for their own sake. They all agreed he should accept the part.
The original hawk used to play Mordecai was kidnapped during shooting and held for ransom - production could not wait for him to be returned which is the reason that the bird that appears later in the movie has "more white feathers" - it's a different bird.
The scene where Richie punches the glass in Mordecai's pen is unscripted, this was improvised by Luke Wilson on the spot and the scene quickly cuts to Richie and Ralleigh (Bill Murray) talking up close, this is because when Wilson punched the glass, director Wes Anderson thought he seriously hurt himself.
Jackson Browne, who wrote and played guitar on the song "These Days" used in the film, forgot he had given permission for the song to be used until he saw the film. He described this in an interview, "I forgot that I'd licensed them to use this song. And this is one of those things that comes to you in the mail and you don't know what they're talking about and you simply give them their permission. You're sitting in the movie theater and there's this great moment when Gwyneth Paltrow is coming out of a bus or something like that. I'm thinking to myself, I used to play the guitar just like that. And then the voice comes on and it's Nico singing "These Days", which I played on."
Danny Glover, Luke Wilson and Owen Wilson all turned down parts in Ocean's Eleven (2001) to appear in this film.
Although the exteriors were largely shot in New York, Wes Anderson intentionally avoided virtually all shots of skyscrapers or other distinctive New York landmarks. In one scene, Royal and Pagoda are talking in Battery Park (on the southern tip of Manhattan) and Anderson intentionally had Kumar Pallana (Pagoda) stand directly in front of the Statue of Liberty so it wouldn't show up in the shot.
The brand of cigarettes Margot smokes throughout the movie were only sold in Ireland and were discontinued in the 1970s. According to director Wes Anderson in the DVD insert (detailing all of the setting and props and the reasons why he used them) this was intentional, both because of the theme of the 1970s and to make Margot's secret smoking habit just a little stranger.
Wes Anderson and Andrew Wilson provided the voices for the commentators during Richie Tenenbaum's tennis match. Many viewers thought it was a cameo from Jason Schwartzman, star of Anderson's previous film, Rushmore (1998). Also, the Wilson brothers all have similar sounding voices, therefore many people think that it is Owen Wilson providing the voice of the second commentator. Anderson also plays bass on the reggae in the initial sequence.
The idea of Margot losing part of her finger was originally written for the character of Margaret Yang in Rushmore (1998).
Etheline Tennenbaum is loosely based on director Wes Anderson's own mother Ann Buroughs who, after divorcing his father, became an archaeologist. Burroughs' actual glasses are worn by Etheline.
Gene Wilder turned down Royal Tenenbaum due to his retirement.
Both Anjelica Huston and Gene Hackman turned down their roles until additional scenes providing more character depth were written specifically for them.
The spots on the dalmatian mice were created using a Sharpie pen.
The name "Buckley" for the dog came from singer/songwriter Jeff Buckley.
All four seasons are represented in what is supposed to be a short amount of time.
Although "Archer Avenue" is fictional, the "Tenenbaum house" did exist as a practical location at 144th street and Convent Avenue in the Hamilton Heights section of Harlem, in Manhattan. For the film shoot, the production designers rented and completely redecorated the house. The scenes in the kitchen, however, were actually shot in another real house, next door.
First film by Wes Anderson that was not filmed in Texas.
Danny Glover's look in the film was modeled after UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. This was Wes Anderson's idea, after Glover, who knows Annan personally, introduced Anderson to him at a UN event.
Wes Anderson wrote the part of Royal Tenenbaum with Gene Hackman in mind.
According to Anjelica Huston, she, Bill Murray and a few other cast members tried remaining protective of Wes Anderson and his working with Gene Hackman. Hackman can be tough to work with and according to Anderson that there were moments where the actor could be difficult with him. Huston said that Murray even showed up on his day off to watch over Anderson during his time working with Hackman.
The Wilsons' mother, Laura Wilson, worked closely with photographer Richard Avedon. Laura documented Avedon's "In the American West" series project. The photo clipping of Eli Cash, sent to Etheline, copies a famous portrait from the Avedon series, of a young man holding a disemboweled snake. For the Wilson brothers, this is somewhat of an inside family joke.
Wes Anderson often uses songs from The Rolling Stones in his films. The '"Between the Buttons" album released in 1967 can be seen in young Margot's hands and years later when Margot and Richie talk inside Richie's tent (when the songs "She Smiled Sweetly" and "Ruby Tuesday" from the album play).
The monster-masked men paintings in Eli's apartment are attributed to Mexican artist Miguel Calderón and were part of his 1998 exhibit "Aggressively Mediocre/Mentally Challenged/Fantasy Island (circle one)", though they were not actually painted by him. Calderón took photographs of his friends posed on motorcycles and, after deciding the photographs were not realistic, hired a portrait painter to reproduce them on canvas.
Inside the board game closet, when Chas yells at Royal, you can see a green Monopoly house at the end of the light pull chain.
The character Henry Sherman was named after Wes Anderson's landlord.
When Bill Murray asks for a cigarette, says "au revoir" (goodbye) and leaves by the end of the movie, it mirrors (smoking aside) the concession speech of French president Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, when he lost the 1981 French presidential election.
Many of the characters in the film were directly and/or indirectly based on members of the Karnas family, Director of Photography Robert D. Yeoman's brother-in-law's family.
Margot is said to keep a secret studio under the name Helen Scott, named for one of François Truffaut's closest American friends and confidants.
The name "Ari" is taken from the nickname of musician Nico's son. Nico also has two songs on the film's soundtrack.
The ship 'Queen Helena' that Richie travels back home on (seen in the background of the scene at the Royal Arctic Lines terminal where he meets Margot) is really the famous liner Queen Elizabeth 2 (or QE2).
The film cast includes three Oscar winners: Gene Hackman, Gwyneth Paltrow, Anjelica Huston; and five Oscar nominees: Owen Wilson, Alec Baldwin, Seymour Cassel, Bill Murray and Wes Anderson.
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"The Peter Bradley Show" is a parody of the long-running interview show Charlie Rose (1991), which has been produced in the studios of the New York PBS affiliate Thirteen/WNET since 1991 and has been distributed to PBS stations nationwide since 1993.
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Director Trademark: [in-camera speed change] The scene where Margot steps off the Green Line bus changes from normal speed to slow-motion.
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Scenes aboard Richie Tenenbaum (Luke Wilson)'s yacht were filmed aboard the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy training vessel "Kings Pointer," based in Kings Point, NY, Long Island.
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Elliott Smith was originally meant to provide a cover of "Hey Jude" for the soundtrack but never completed it, causing Wes Anderson to use the Mutato Muzika Orchestra version instead. Smith's song "Needle in the Hay" appears in the film.
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Rex Robbins' final film.
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Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
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Inside the board game closet, to the right of Royal Tenenbaum there is a game from Israel called "Li Buba" meaning "a doll for me."
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Wes Anderson imagined the story that would later become "The Royal Tennenbaums", while listening to Ravel's "String Quartet in F", performed by the Britten Quartet.
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"Sweet Afton" was Margot's brand of cigarettes. British American Tobacco ceased production of Sweet Aftons in 2011.
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Brian Tenenbaum: who plays one of the paramedics, was a college friend of Wes Anderson, Owen Wilson, Luke Wilson at the University of Texas. Anderson made film about his name because "I just like the name." Brian Tenenbaum's sister is named Margot.

Director Trademark 

Wes Anderson: [underwater shot] In every Wes Anderson film there is a shot of one or more of the characters underwater. One person is added for each film. In Bottle Rocket (1996), we have one character, Anthony underwater. In Rushmore (1998), we have a shot with two characters underwater. Then in The Royal Tenenbaums (2001), there are three people underwater. The Royal Tenenbaums also stresses the number three. When the on screen novel reads, "3", it cuts to Ritchie, and the narrator says, that Ritichie had fed his bird 3 sardines. Then next we see Ritichie on the roof reading "3 Plays".
Wes Anderson: [Pallana] Anderson has given Kumar Pallana (Pagoda) a part in each of his movies (with the exception of The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004)). Pallana used to work at Anderson's favorite coffee shop in Dallas.
Wes Anderson: [in-camera speed change] The last scene changes from normal speed to slow-motion.
Wes Anderson: [peanuts] According to Anderson on the DVD commentary track, Buckley the beagle is a tribute to Snoopy. The Vince Guaraldi Trio song "Christmastime is Here" from A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965) recurs as Margo's theme.
Wes Anderson: [Rolling Stones] Features "She Smiled Sweetly" and "Ruby Tuesday".


The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

Throughout the movie everyone wears the same clothing (or some variation of the same clothing). All of the clothing is also from the 1970s. For example, Richie wears a Fila tennis shirt and headband made famous by Björn Borg around 1976. Director Wes Anderson did this intentionally so that it would appear that the Tenenbaums are trapped in the era of their heyday while time moves on (the gravestone at the end reads 2001). Much of the setting, including the use of gypsy cabs and Green Line buses, are also in keeping with this theme.
In the bathroom scene where Richie cuts his hair and, eventually, his wrists, the music playing is "Needle in the Hay" by Elliott Smith. On October 21, 2003, Elliott Smith (allegedly) committed suicide through self-inflicted stab wounds. Owen Wilson (co-writer with Wes Anderson) reportedly attempted suicide in 2007. Owen is the brother of Luke Wilson, who played Richie. Moreover, the song playing when Richie returns to the Tenenbaum household is by Nick Drake, also alleged to have committed suicide, though by overdose rather than stab wounds.
After Margot tells Richie that Eli has told her of Richie's letter to Eli that he dictated whilst on the Cote D'Ivoire ship in which he confesses his love for Margot, Richie goes to Eli's house to confront him. Having knocked on Eli's door, the sound of a bird is heard and Richie looks up to see if he can see the bird, it is implied that the bird that made the noise is Richie's recently released bird Mordecai, who comes back to Richie later on in the film.
The Tenenbaums have many similarities with the Glass family, the fictional family that appears in many of J.D. Salinger's short stories. For example, they are child prodigies, Ritchie's suicide attempt is very similar to Seymour Glass's in Raise High the Roofbeams Carpenters and Seymour: an Introduction, they are half Jewish half Irish, and they live in Upper Manhattan, the actual location of the Tenenbaum house. Wes Anderson has acknowledged Salinger as an influence.
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