- Warning: This post contains spoilers for “The French Dispatch.”
- Henry Winkler didn’t know about the plot twist in his “French Dispatch” short until he filmed it.
- “You don’t know really. You get the script for your section. [Anderson] is very close to the vest.”
Warning: This post contains spoilers for “The French Dispatch.”
Viewers may have been surprised by one plot twist in “The French Dispatch” – and as it turns out, star Henry Winkler was too.
“The French Dispatch,” directed by Wes Anderson and now in theaters, tells the story of a fictional American magazine headquartered in Ennui-sur-Blasé, France. Rather than telling one long story, the movie is effectively broken up into three short films, each focusing on one feature story written for the final edition of the magazine led by editor Arthur Howitzer, Jr. (Bill Murray).
The first short is framed around gifted painter and incarcerated murderer Moses Rosenthaler (Benicio Del Toro). His work catches the eye of art dealer Julian Cadazio (Adrien Brody) and Julian’s two uncles, Nick (Bob Balaban) and Joe (Henry Winkler).
Unfortunately, Moses throws the Cadazio family a curveball when he paints his final work in the movie onto the walls of the prison.
The Cadazios don’t realize that Moses has used the prison itself as his canvas until after they’ve paid 11,000 francs to break into the facility and also solicited a wealthy patron, Kansas resident Upshur “Maw” Clampette (Lois Smith), to buy the art.
Winkler told Insider earlier in October that even he didn’t know that Moses had painted on the prison wall ahead of filming the scene. The “Happy Days” star said he didn’t get that section of the screenplay and only learned about that twist on set.
“You don’t know really. You get the script for your section,” the “Happy Days” star said of whether he expected the twist, adding that Anderson “is very close to the vest” in what he shares about his film’s plots.
The film’s editor separately told Insider that Anderson wanted to lean into the ‘quirkiness’ of the short for the climax
In the action-packed climax of the short featuring Winkler, as Moses is trying to escape after revealing that he has painted directly onto the prison wall, his prison guard and muse, Simone (Léa Seydoux), stops him by sticking her police baton in the wheels of his wheelchair.
As a result, the chair (now in pieces) and Moses, go flying.
A recent video featurette about filming and the movie’s star-studded cast revealed that the sequence came together in front of a green screen, with Del Toro on a wire, and people in green leotards holding different parts of the wheelchair on sticks.
The editor of the movie, Andrew Weisblum, told Insider that he and Anderson initially discussed using a “stunt gag” for the scene with the wheelchair, but Anderson was very opposed to the idea.
Weisblum explained that the director wanted to “see something that’s more fun” and was “interested in just the quirkiness of the event.”
They filmed Del Toro flying out of the chair once on the actual set and then again in front of a green screen, as well as “different elements” of the chair parts without knowing exactly what they would use in the final cut.
“We shot all these different elements, knowing that we would kind of collage them together,” Weisblum said about bringing that moment to life using multiple different shots.
He added: “We just went for something that just kind of felt fun and silly even though there was nothing realistic about it.”
“The French Dispatch” is now playing in theaters.