“The Darjeeling Limited” left the station without its planned pre-release promo, with Wes Anderson and Jason Schwartzman taking a trip to Chicago and having some journos ride into the Midwest for a bit. After it’s opened, there’s a press day at a hotel along Michigan Avenue, the elderly Drake. On my way, I get a call to come before my time, but once there, things are running late. Soda and water and trays of melon and errant radishes sit on a side table. Interviews are next door: This room’s too warm, this one’s too cold, the hallway’s just right, warmed by the PDAs of personal assistants. At a nearby table, someone’s drawn a Fiji water bottle on hotel stationary, empty in front of it.
Once in the room, the three of us hurtle through twenty amusing minutes, exchanges genuine and offbeat. It’s a couple days before the studio announces the Natalie Portman-starring short “Hotel Chevalier” will be added to the 600-plus-screen rollout this Friday, and the pair seem unflappable. (Then again, they have been together for weeks on trains through India while researching the comedy.) The only moment Anderson misses a beat is on the subject of Slate’s discovery that he’s a white guy. “Are they suggesting I’ve gone to India with the desire to exploit the people of India? People always refer to these privileged white guys, but we’re writing from our point of view. I don’t consider us, I don’t consider myself a privileged person. It was upsetting to me.”
Anderson had only one prepared line in his quiver, his goodbye: “Thank you for coming to the Drake today.” For an instant, I feel like a character in an eccentric scene. I am Pagoda, writ pale. (Ray Pride)