Tilda Swinton spent hours in the makeup chair to play 84-year-old dowager Madame D. "We're not usually working with a vast, Bruckheimer-type budget on my films, so often we're trying a work-around," said Wes Anderson. "But for the old-age makeup I just said, 'Let's get the most expensive people we can.'"
In an interview, Saoirse Ronan admitted that making the hotel's signature confection, the Courtisane au Chocolat, wasn't easy. "Forget the action scenes in Hanna (2011)," she said, "these little pastries were the hardest thing I've had to do in a movie."
According to Variety, Fox Searchlight sent its specification for the film's "proper projection" to theaters before its release. Although Wes Anderson's crime caper was shot in three different aspect ratios (1.37, 1.85 and 2.35:1) to inform viewers where they are in the time line, which alternates between 1985, 1968 and the 1930s, instructions state in large, bold red font that the film is meant to be projected in 1.85:1 aspect ratio (the standard). Aside from the projector setting, the directions include information on framing the picture, image brightness, audio configuration and fader setting.
On finding the shooting locations, 'Wes Anderson' has said: 'We found this department store in this town called Gorlitz, which is in Saxony. Half of Gorlitz is in Germany, the other half is in Poland. It's on the border. And it's about 20 minutes from Czech Republic. So, in a way, it's really right where our story would be, if there was such a place as the one in our story. And this department store that we found, we made into our hotel, the big entrance hall of our hotel, and then we found everything else for the movie within a certain kind of radius of that department store.'
'Wes Anderson' qv has said that the whole cast stayed in the same hotel when they were shooting. He also insisted on all make-up and costume being done in the lobby of the hotel in order to give more urgency to the process and begin filming sooner. The owner of the same hotel also appears in the film as an extra working on the front desk of the Grand Budapest, and after filming finished for the day the crew would often return to find him at the front desk of their own hotel.
In an interview with Stefan Zweig's biographer, Wes Anderson singles out two of Zweig's books; Beware of Pity and The Post Office Girl from which 'The Grand Budapest Hotel has elements that were sort of stolen ...' He also states that 'Two characters in our story are vaguely meant to represent Zweig himself - our "Author" character, played by Tom Wilkinson, and the theoretically fictionalised version of himself, played by Jude Law. But, in fact, M. Gustave, the main character who is played by Ralph Fiennes, is modelled significantly on Zweig as well.'