Connect with us


NYFF Interview: Jason Schwartzman

Jason Schwartzman is an interesting cat. Hobbling into the press conference suite with a cane and a giant grin on his face, he comments on how unique the hotel room i

Jason Schwartzman is an interesting cat. Hobbling into the press conference suite with a cane and a giant grin on his face, he comments on how unique the hotel room is. The son of actress Talia Shire and producer Jack Schwartzman, Schwartzman was first cast as the lead in Wes Anderson’s Rushmore ten years ago. Since then he has appeared in a number of interesting films including, I ♥ Huckabees, Spun and Marie-Antoinette. Although he’s related, he doesn’t really look like the rest of the Coppola clan. He’s small, skinny and a little goofy.  But all around, he seemed really cool.  

This week you should look for him in The Darjeeling Limited, Wes Anderson’s new comedy about three brothers on a spiritual sojourn across India.  One should also look for Schwartzman in Anderson’s short Hotel Chevalier, which is available for download (for free!) on itunes.

Jason Schwartzman

Question: How much time lapsed between when you shot Hotel Chevalier and The Darjeeling Limited?
Jason Schwartzman: We shot Hotel Chevalier just before Christmas 2005 and then we went to India to shoot The Darjeeling Limited in fall of 2006.  We were writing the film while shooting Hotel Chevalier. I mean, we had a couple months of brainstorming and writing ideas down, and Hotel Chevalier really popped out as this separate piece. Wes didn’t write it as a scene from the film or anything like that. He told me that he had written it for me, and that hopefully Natalie Portman would agree to be in it. She did, and we shot the film very quickly. It wasn’t until after we shot the film that we realized this character should also be the character I play in The Darjeeling Limited. It was great for me acting-wise, for back-story (and to enact the back-story) because you could really remember the short film and those days of shooting. It was also great because I hadn’t worked with Wes in ten years and I was nervous because I hadn’t acted in really a long time, so it was good to be able to test the waters. 

Q: Was shooting in India nerve-wracking?
JS: I mean I felt really happy in India, looking back on it, it was one of the best times I’ve had on a film set and I think that’s a whole different thing because, I didn’t really try to control the situation, you know? I told myself I’m really just going to go with the flow, be positive and say “yes” to everything. Looking back, I found it to be a very positive, upbeat experience. Working there was just a lot of fun. When Wes first started telling me he wanted to do a film about these brothers on a train, in India, part of the pitch was to do it on a real train, with a small crew, with no set, hair or wardrobe department. On most sets the actors can walk away from each other, go into their trailer etc. But on a train you’re forced to deal with each other in this confined space. Also, time is of the essence because the train can stop at any moment, to yield to other trains, cows, monkeys and other wildlife. So there was a real charged kind of feeling while working on this train, with a three-person crew, with the possibility of being shut down at any time. But Wes had prepped me for the type of experience we were going to have. 

Q: Was the train moving the entire time you were shooting?

JS: Yeah the train was moving the whole time man, eight hours out and eight hours in. It was a real train, but it was one that we had taken over for the film and it was twelve-carts long. It was funny; I’d never been on a film set before where if you were late, you might literally miss the shoot. So we were strongly encouraged to be on time. 

Q: So what was it like writing the screenplay?

JS: Well Wes and I first started talking about it around March 2005 when I was shooting Marie-Antoinette. Wes, Roman Coppola and myself were shooting off ideas about these hypothetical brothers and filming in India.  That was really the beginning of the process, even though it wasn’t like we had any writing program open on a computer. So it really wound up being a two-year process.

Q: How do you approach the screenwriting process?

JS: Well I’ve never written a script before that became a film, I really had just written little short plays and songs. I tend not to get too confident about victories because I feel like each victory is its own thing. The victory was getting this film produced with Wes and all these people who I like and it was just such a great experience. But it doesn’t give me total confidence that I should become a prolific screenwriter. But it was an amazing experience and I would like to write more.

Q: What is the difference like between working with a director like Wes Anderson verses a director like David O. Russell or Roman Coppola?
JS: Well each of them has different styles of directing. But I’ve been lucky enough to work with all these great directors and even though they have different styles of direction, they all have this similar energy. You can tell that they really have to make the movie they’re doing. They’re embodiments of their films, it’s not like they’ve been hired to do something, and they’ve been fortunate enough to be paid to do their own work. They know what’s right or wrong for their films and I think they would die if their films were taken out of their hands.  But in terms of directing, they're all different. Wes is the only director I’ve worked with twice.  With David O’Russell it’s a very exciting, energetic set and you really feel like you're writing the movie right there. He’ll really talk you through the scene and have you try many different ways of doing it before he finds what he wants. Lots of directors will try to hone a scene by doing the same actions multiple times, but David never wants anything the same, each take has a different feel to it. But with Wes the goal is to get the scene absolutely perfect.  Both directors I would say are perfectionists. Wes’s approach is very loving, he’s very close to the actors and he doesn’t yell, he’s very quiet actually. He really lets the actors get into the scene and tries not to disturb them.

Q: How has Wes Anderson’s style changed since Rushmore?

JS: Well I’ve really only worked with him twice, so I don’t really know how he’s changed that much artistically, I could tell you how he’s changed personally. I would say he really alters his style with each film. I remember when we were shooting Rushmore, it was in his hometown, and at the high school he attended, shooting environments that he knows very well. In India, we were total strangers in this exotic place and I think that his approach was different and a total surrender to the environment. I think on this film he encouraged spontaneous, volatile situations. It was a more run and gun mentality. You couldn’t stop the shoot if the wrong color flowers were delivered. I imagine it’s a lot like what a French new-wave set would’ve been like.

The The Darjeeling Limited opened the 45th New York Film Festival and Fox Searchlight Pictures opened the film on September 29th in New York. The pic opens wide in theaters in October.

Continue Reading
You may also like...
Click to comment

More in Retro

To Top