In Select Theatres May 25, 2012
Share:  

In Depth

People In Film | Jason Schwartzman

Jason Schwartzman | A Familiar Face in the Anderson Kingdom
The presence of Jason Schwartzman in the cast of Wes Anderson’s MOONRISE KINGDOM –– he plays the role of Cousin Ben –– could not make more sense. Schwartzman and Anderson have longstanding and meaningful ties to one another: Schwartzman made his acting debut, giving a remarkable performance in the lead role of Max Fischer, in Anderson’s Rushmore, the writer-director's 1998 breakthrough movie. (“I remember the very second of meeting him,” Anderson recalled in an interview with MTV. “We had spent a year trying to find someone to play this part. When he read, it was a slam-dunk. We got the guy.”) Eight years on, Schwartzman acted in Anderson’s short Hotel Chevalier as Jack Whitman, and he reprised the role in the 2007 feature The Darjeeling Limited, which he also co-wrote with Anderson. In 2009, Schwartzman voiced Ash Fox in the animated Anderson film Fantastic Mr. Fox. And Schwartzman acted alongside his Rushmore foil and fellow Anderson regular, Bill Murray, on all of those projects except Hotel Chevalier. “Bill and Jason are always great to have around,” adds MOONRISE KINGDOM’s producer Jeremy Dawson.
Jason Schwartzman | Part of the Coppola Clan

Kirsten Dunst and Jason Schwartzman in Marie Antoinette

It could be said that Jason Schwartzman was born into cinema. Though his last name doesn’t clue us in to his family ties, Schwartzman is a member of the mighty Coppola clan: his father was entertainment lawyer turned film producer Jack Schwartzman and his mother is actress Talia Shire, the sister of Oscar-winning writer-director Francis Ford Coppola. As a result, Schwartzman grew up around film and discovered a passion for the medium that was shared not only by his parents and uncle but also by his cousins –– directors Roman Coppola, Sofia Coppola and Christopher Coppola, and actor Nicolas Cage –– and his half-brother, John Schwartzman, a cinematographer. Still, it was not until his mid-teens that Schwartzman truly fell in love with film: “I was never one of those crazily ambitious kids,” he said to The Guardian in 2007. “You know the ones that dress up like little cowboys and have their headshots up in the barber's shops. I had no idea that acting was something I wanted to do till I was 16, and I saw Harold and Maude and Dog Day Afternoon." Since that point, Schwartzman has taken several opportunities to mix family with film. He played director Felix De Marco in Roman's 2001 feature debut CQ, and in 2007 the cousins reteamed on The Darjeeling Limited, which they both co-wrote with Wes Anderson and Schwartzman starred in. Roman is a co-writer and Schwartzman a cast member on MOONRISE KINGDOM, and the pair will reunite as actor and director on Roman's forthcoming A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III. Schwartzman also acted for Sofia Coppola, playing King Louis XVI in her audacious revisionist biopic, Marie Antoinette.

Jason Schwartzman | An Actor's Actor

Jason Schwartzman's indelible performance as Rushmore's Max Fischer –– The Independent's Anthony Quinn wrote that he "perfectly captures the poignancy of a character who understands his failings but hasn't yet the emotional resources to conquer them" –– made him an instant star. He won that role because of the commitment he showed to understanding his character (impressing Anderson by making a Rushmore patch for his blazer), and has always put the work first, carefully choosing interesting or challenging roles rather than making the work all about the paycheck. Post-Rushmore, the lead roles he took were in decidedly offbeat movies: he played methamphetamine addict Ross in the scuzzy indie drama Spun (2002) and then played Albert Markovski, the head of the “Open Spaces Coalition,” in David O. Russell's quirky existential comedy I Heart Huckabees (2004). The latter film had an all-star cast, and working with great actors –– whether in a main or a supporting role ––  has been important to Schwartzman. He also surrounded himself with brilliant performers like Zach Galifianakis and Ted Danson (plus numerous famous guest stars) on the HBO comedy series Bored to Death, but he has excelled equally in more minor roles such as the creepy, vindictive nerd Ethan in Slackers, the awkward and immature graphic designer Jeremy in Shopgirl, TV star Mark Taylor Jackson in Judd Apatow's Funny People, or Gideon Gordon Graves, one of the “evil exes” in Edgar Wright's Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.  “I do like the feeling of working,” he told Cinemablend, “and no movie is easy. Every day when I ride to set, I do always have that excitement. ...There is a feeling when I go to work of, ooh, what's going to happen today? There's always an element of surprise. It's an incredible line of work, because you never know who you're going to meet or what's going to happen.”

Jason Schwartzman | The Music Man

In describing how he discovered his passion for acting, Jason Schwartzman told the Guardian that watching great movies, “I got the same feeling that I got through music. ...Warm. And, you know, awesome." Because, even before film gripped him, music took a hold of Schwartzman, and it's something that he has continued to put significant energy into as a parallel pursuit to acting. As with film, one can see the roots of his musical talent in the Coppola family tree: his grandfather Carmine Coppola was a conductor and composer of classical music who won an Oscar for Best Original Score for his work on The Godfather Part II, while Schwartzman's brother Robert is the frontman of the contemporary rock band Rooney. Until 2003, Schwartzman was the drummer for the group Phantom Planet, and he was a creative force on their first two albums, Phantom Planet is Missing (1998) and The Guest (2002), the latter being most famous for the track “California,” which became a hit after being used as the theme song on the TV show The O.C. He wrote the theme songs for the TV shows Cracking Up (the short-lived sitcom on which he was a series regular) and Bored to Death, and has also sung his own compositions in the films Slackers and Funny People. Since 2006, he has made music under the name Coconut Records, collaborating with both musicians like his brother Robert and Incubus' lead singer Brandon Boyd –– as well as other musically-inclined actors such as Zooey Deschanel and Kirsten Dunst –– on the albums Nighttiming (2007) and Davy (2009), released through his own label, Young Baby Records. “The wonderful thing about Coconut Records is, because it happened almost by accident, I feel like there almost isn't a precedent for what the next [album is] supposed to be like,” Schwartzman explained in 2008. “On one record, I could play the instruments, on the next record I could have a whole band playing. Maybe I wouldn't sing at all – I'd have someone else sing. I just want it to be fluid.”

1 of 4
X

Display this slideshow on your own site:

Share This: