Wes Anderson’s cinematographic formula—pastel colors, oddly dressed characters, and sharp cuts—seems clear enough for amateur filmmakers to imitate. For the past two months, TikTokers have been eagerly attempting the “Wes Anderson Trend,” where everyday life is captured in the director’s formal, symmetrical fashion. The 18-year-old actress Grace Edwards, who plays the wunderkind botanist Dinah Campbell in Anderson’s latest film, Asteroid City, says that portraying the Anderson aesthetic is not as straightforward as the viral videos make it out to be.

“When he directs, he is anatomically precise. He’s very particular about angles and measurements—from where a glass of water is on the table to where your feet might be resting,” she explains. “On the first day [on set] that was a bit daunting for me.”

Edwards describes the film, which is in theaters now, as a “whimsical slice of life.” The movie is set in 1955 in the fictional Southern town of Asteroid City, where eccentric characters come together for the annual Junior Stargazer Convention. Dinah wins an award for her botanical experiment with cosmic radiation.

Grace Edwards and Scarlett Johansson in a scene from Asteroid City.

For Edwards, shooting Asteroid City meant leaving her home in Los Angeles and spending two months in the Spanish desert, near the Chinchón region. Just 17 years old when filming began, Edwards had two guardian figures with her on set: her real-life mother, Cristy Samuel, and her character’s mother, Midge Campbell, played by Scarlett Johansson.

“I really enjoyed playing Scarlett’s daughter, ” says Edwards. “I learned a lot from her.”

In typical Anderson fashion, Asteroid City has a star-studded cast, featuring actors such as Tom Hanks, Edward Norton, Steve Carell, Bryan Cranston, and Jason Schwartzman, who plays Johansson’s love interest. Before Edwards auditioned, she was unaware the film would have so many celebrated actors. In fact, she had never even heard of Anderson.

After landing the part, Edwards spent time researching botanists to prepare for her role. “I think I’m very similar to [Dinah] in the sense that I am a very scientific person,” Edwards tells me. “I restrain my communication until I’ve observed a situation and prepared for it.” She also studied the film’s animatic, an animated storyboard of the screenplay, which detailed step-by-step instructions on how the actors were to interpret the script.

Lulu Wilson and Edwards in a scene from Season Two of Modern Love.

The animatic “was a bit strange” for Edwards because she had never used one before. Acting in her first big role, the 2019 TV show Modern Love, was “quite different.... They didn’t even want us to stay true to the dialogue. A lot of the time they wanted to completely keep everything unplanned and spontaneous,” says Edwards. “With Wes, everything was very intentional. It’s a very specific style, and everything is planned out.”

Three weeks into filming in the Spanish desert, Edwards began to settle into Anderson’s directing style. “He likes it when you face straightforward while your eyes look elsewhere … and he likes it when you crisply enunciate your t’s,” she says. “I’m very grateful to have had that experience. I’m glad to have worked with that kind of directing style.”

Asteroid City is in theaters in New York City and Los Angeles now. It hits theaters around the country on June 23

Carolina de Armas is an Associate Editor at AIR MAIL