A Tour of Rushmore
"It wasn't that I wanted to connect it to theater," Anderson explains. "I wanted to do curtains and then I realized that it was connecting to the plays and that kind of thing. It has a lot to do with getting the right tone."
To establish that tone, Anderson also felt he had to become more concrete than he had in his previous work. Few films achieve the kind of density Rushmore does — almost every frame is packed with gags demanding repeated viewings.
"One thing that bothered me about Bottle Rocket was it was so spare. This movie is full of things. There's more detail. I just tried harder. Instead of waiting for a response when I had an inspiration, I would say, 'here's a place where I want more.' I would try to focus on coming up with more layers. By the time we were shooting the movie, I had it all filled out in a way that I didn't in the other movie.
"Like the end of the movie [a party scene celebrating Max's triumphant play]. You could interpret that as a ridiculous Hollywood ending. Everyone's back together and everything is just great. But I don't think everything is so great in the Hollywood way; there are still people who are sad. It's ironic.
"I felt like I was getting away with a happy ending," says Anderson, whose success seems only beginning. "But I don't know."