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5 things you probably never knew about 'The Royal Tenenbaums,' according to the cast and creators

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The Royal Tenenbaums Touchstone Pictures
Gene Hackman (right) in "The Royal Tenenbaums." Touchstone Pictures
  • Wes Anderson's 2001 comedy-drama "The Royal Tenenbaums" had a recent panel at Tribeca Festival.

  • The cast and creators shared fun facts and behind-the-scenes secrets at Monday's pre-recorded panel.

  • Star Gene Hackman was apparently unhappy with his "low" salary, and was on set "all day."

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

Gene Hackman, who played patriarch Royal Tenenbaum, was apparently unhappy with his "low" salary, and was on set "all day."

Royal Tenenbaum (Gene Hackman) sits at a table in an ice cream parlor in "The Royal Tenenbaums."
Gene Hackman in "The Royal Tenenbaums." Buena Vista Pictures

"I hope this is not indiscreet to say this, but Gene objected to the money on the film," director Wes Anderson revealed during a recent panel for the 2021 Tribeca Festival attended by Insider.

According to Anderson, Hackman was used to a certain level of pay (moderator Alec Baldwin joked that Hackman's agent once told him Hackman "doesn't even open his eyes for less than $3 million") — one that wasn't matched by "The Royal Tenenbaums." However, when the storied actor decided to do the film, he committed fully to the role — staying on set "all day" and even sitting in on scenes that didn't involve his character, Luke Wilson (who played Richie Tenenbaum) recalled.

"For that small amount of money, he gave us everything he had," Anderson said.

Owen and Luke's older brother Andrew had cameos in several key scenes.

A side by side image of two scenes from "The Royal Tenenbaums;" on the left is a close up of a finger pushing a BB lodged in between the knuckles of another hand, and on the right is Margo's Amish relative looking pained after accidentally chopping off her finger.
Andrew Wilson (brother of Luke and Owen) appeared in two scenes in "The Royal Tenenbaums." Buena Vista Pictures

In one scene, Andrew plays an Amish relative of Margot's (Gwyneth Paltrow) who she encounters after running away to find her birth family. He accidentally chops off her ring finger after she places a wood log up on the chopping block.

And in the other scene, Andrew's hand is shown (instead of Ben Stiller's) when it's revealed that Chaz (Stiller) still has a BB lodged in his hand from when Royal (Hackman) shot him as a child.

Owen Wilson explained during the Tribeca panel that his brother Andrew really does have a BB in between two knuckles — the result of being shot by either Owen or Luke when they were all children.

The fight between Royal and Henry had to be filmed through a window, since the room where it takes place was so small.

Royal Tenenbaum (Gene Hackman) stands in a bathrobe in the family's kitchen while arguing with Henry (Danny Glover), who has his back to the viewer.
Gene Hackman and Danny Glover argue in "The Royal Tenenbaums." Buena Vista Pictures

Anderson revealed during the Tribeca panel that the scene — in which Royal and Henry (Danny Glover) argue over Royal's place in the Tenenbaum family — was shot in a "little, tiny" kitchen located next door to the main house where they were filming.

According to the filmmaker, they couldn't fit a camera inside the room, which led to them shooting through the window.

"They were in there alone. And I remember, they kind of circled around each other a little bit, and then they just exploded into it," Anderson said of the intense scene. "They let it rip a bit. And it was really fun to watch them."

According to director Wes Anderson, the movie was inspired by JD Salinger and an Orson Welles film.

royal tenenbaums
Luke Wilson and Gwyneth Paltrow in "The Royal Tenenbaums." Buena Vista Pictures

"It's one of those things where we could list so many different things we stole from," Anderson said of the inspiration for his 2001 film.

According to the director, Orson Welles' 1942 drama "The Magnificent Ambersons" was an inspiration for "The Royal Tenenbaums," as was the work of JD Salinger. Several of Salinger's stories focused on the fictional Glass family, which is comprised of brilliant yet troubled individuals (much like the Tenenbaums).

And Luke Wilson, who played Richie Tenenbaum, also said that real-life people influenced the movie as well.

"It was also just, like, families that we all knew that had these characters, and they were kind of damaged while at the same time getting things accomplished," he said.

Luke Wilson said there's really a plaque at Forest Hills stadium commemorating his character's tennis loss.

Richie Tenenbaum (Luke Wilson) sits dejectedly on a tennis court in front of a crowd of onlookers in this scene from "The Royal Tenenbaums."
Luke Wilson as Richie Tenenbaum. Buena Vista Pictures

"They actually have a plaque up at Forest Hills [Stadium] that says this is where 'the Baumer' had his meltdown," Wilson revealed during the Tribeca panel.

The actor was referring to the movie's infamous scene wherein his character Richie Tenenbaum, a skilled professional tennis player nicknamed "The Baumer," has a breakdown on the court in the middle of a match.

It's later revealed that Richie's breakdown is the result of his unrequited feelings for his adopted sister, Margot, who had just gotten married to another man.

While it's unclear where the plaque is located at the New York arena (which is where "The Royal Tenenbaums" filmed Richie's meltdown), a tweet from the stadium in 2017 does appear to show a plaque commemorating the fictional event.

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