Asteroid City: Meet the cast as Wes Anderson's new film earns rave reviews

Tom Hanks, Margot Robbie and Scarlett Johansson star in the romantic comedy-drama

·4-min read

Watch: Asteroid City trailer

Wes Anderson's dazzling cinematic universe is expanding.

Asteroid City, the American director's new film, will fly into UK cinemas next month, with an all-star cast led by Tom Hanks, Margot Robbie and Scarlett Johansson.

Here's everything you need to know about the film.

Asteroid City release date

Asteroid City is due to be released in UK cinemas on Friday, 23 June. It premiered at the Cannes Film Festival on 23 May, where it earned a six-minute standing ovation.

It's the 11th film of Anderson's illustrious career so far, and his first since 2021's The French Dispatch, an ode to journalism set in 1970s France. The writer-director has kept busy since then, working on both Asteroid City and a Netflix adaption of Roald Dahl's The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar.

The new poster for Wes Anderson's star-studded Asteroid City. (Focus Features)
The new poster for Wes Anderson's star-studded Asteroid City. (Focus Features)

Astroid City reviews

Asteroid City received rave reviews after the film was unveiled at the Cannes Film Festival, earning it a 84% critics' score on Rotten Tomatoes.

Many viewers once again commended the American auteur's immaculate visual style and offbeat dialogue, with some calling it his best film since 2014's The Grand Budapest Hotel. Find out what people have been saying about Asteroid City below:

The Guardian: Wes Anderson’s 1950s sci-fi is an exhilarating triumph of pure style (3-min read)

The Independent: Wes Anderson’s enrapturing cosmic comedy is an offbeat Close Encounters (3-min read)

The Telegraph: Gen-Z whimsy-seekers beware – this is Wes Anderson’s oddest film yet (4 min read)

Evening Standard: Wes Anderson has rekindled the old magic with this tasty treat (3-min read)

Variety: Wes Anderson’s New Film Is a Piece of 1950s Desert Americana That’s Visually Dazzling and Dramatically Inert (4-min read)

Asteroid City plot and trailer

Jake Ryan, Jason Schwartzman and Tom Hanks in Asteroid City
Jake Ryan, Jason Schwartzman and Tom Hanks in Wes Anderson's Asteroid City. (Focus Features/Universal Pictures)

Asteroid City is a romantic comedy-drama with a sci-fi twist. Set in a tiny American desert town in the 1950s, the eagerly awaited film is described as a "poetic meditation on the meaning of life".

The film is told in an anthology format, like The French Dispatch, as follows three overlapping stories as the town hosts a space convention. But the arrival of an alien forces the government to quarantine Asteroid City, throwing the characters' lives into chaos.

Scarlett Johansson in Asteroid City
Scarlett Johansson in Asteroid City. (Focus Features/Universal Pictures)

Like most Anderson films, complicated family dynamics are at the heart of Asteroid City. The lead character is widowed dad-of-four Augie Steenbeck (played by Jason Schwartzman), who gets stranded in the remote town with his four children.

He urges his wealthy father-in-law Stanley (Tom Hanks) to help look after the kids, and grows close to famous actress Midge Campbell (Scarlett Johansson), who is also stuck in town with her teenage daughter.

Watch the trailer for Asteroid City at the top of this article, and a clip from the film below.

Asteroid City cast and crew

The film features Anderson's most star-studded cast of his career so far, with Tom Hanks, Margot Robbie, Scarlett Johansson and Steve Carrell leading the line-up of A-listers. Other familiar faces include Stranger Things' Maya Hawke, Sleepless in Seattle's Rita Wilson, and Hong Chau, fresh from her Oscar-nominated role in The Whale.

Fisher Stevens, Jeffrey Wright, Tony Revolori, and Bob Balaban in Asteroid City
Fisher Stevens, Jeffrey Wright, Tony Revolori, and Bob Balaban in Asteroid City. (Focus Features/Universal Pictures)

Many of the director's past collaborators are back for Asteroid City, including Jason Schwartzman, Edward Norton, Tilda Swinton, Bryan Cranston, Willem Dafoe, Adrien Brody and Jeff Goldblum.

However, Bill Murray, who has appeared in nine Anderson films, was forced to drop out after testing positive for COVID, so was replaced by The Office star Carrell.

Keep an eye out for Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker, who makes a brief cameo as a cowboy. The Britpop musician wrote a song for the film with ex-bandmate Richard Hawley. There are also cameos from Matt Dillon, Rupert Friend and Seu Jorge.

Steve Carell in Asteroid City
Steve Carell replaced Bill Murray in the film. (Focus Features/Universal Pictures)

Anderson co-wrote the story with Roman Coppola, a trusted collaborator who also worked on The French Dispatch, Isle of Dogs, Moonrise Kingdom and The Darjeeling Limited.

The director admitted the script was inspired by the COVID lockdown, telling AFP: "This movie is certainly informed by the most bizarre viral moment in recent history. Writing it during this pandemic, in the middle of the most locked-down lockdown, we were not sure we would ever go out again."

He shot the film in the Spanish town of Chinchón, near Madrid, between August and October last year. Leaked photos from the desert-like set sparked speculation that the film would be a western, but these rumours were put to bed when it was confirmed as a comedy-drama.

Asteroid City will be released on Fridy, 23 June.