Jeffrey Wright is literally at the top of the list for filmmaker Wes Anderson.
Anderson made a surprise appearance via video from Paris to present Jeffrey Wright with Variety’s Legend and Groundbreaker Award at the Newport Beach Film Festival on Sunday and revealed that their recent collaboration in “The French Dispatch” was a long time coming.
“For about 20 years I think, I¡¯ve had a little note to myself literally in a notebook I keep … a list of what I call ‘powerhouse actors who I want to work with,'” Anderson said. “At the top of the list has been Jeffrey Wright.” Anderson added the pair have had “another dazzling experience” working on the upcoming “Asteroid City.”
In accepting the Legend and Groundbreaker Award, Wright joked, “Some of my friends would probably say to me ‘legend in his own mind.’ So thanks to Variety and the Newport Beach Film Festival for validating my delusions.”
Wright also spoke about his first film experience, working with director Alan J. Pakula and Harrison Ford in the 1989 film “Presumed Innocent.” Though it was a small role for Wright (he referred to himself as “a bearded blur”) he recalled the courtesy and professionalism displayed by Ford. “He was the biggest movie star in the world and yet he was making his respect for Mr. Pakula and the process of working with him very clear,” said Wright. “That moment taught me what was expected at the highest levels of this work, and that was a respect for collaboration. And I¡¯ve grown only to appreciate that more as my career has gone on.”
Wright went on to praise all the crafts people who work behind the camera, and added of the recent IATSE discussions, “They deserve everything they ask for and more during these recent negotiations.”