Jason Schwartzman's skyrocketing fame came along 14 years ago with Rushmore. Since then, he's done a ton of acting, film scoring (under the name Coconut Records), and TV (in the sadly canceled HBO show Bored to Death). Recently, he was reunited with Wes Anderson, the director who gave him his breakout role—they worked together on Moonrise Kingdom, out now on DVD and Blu-Ray. We spoke to the L.A.-based Schwartzman about acting, celebrity friends, and why dressing like your favorite Hollywood stars can be a terrible idea.
DETAILS: Your character in Moonrise Kingdom, Cousin Ben, is a bit of a renegade. Is it hard to play a bad-ass when you're dressed like a khaki scout?
JASON SCHWARTZMAN: I appreciate you seeing the renegade. When I read the script, I said to Wes, "In my mind, this character is kind of like Han Solo." I was envisioning Han Solo when [Luke and Obi Wan] meet him in the bar in the beginning and they need the Millennium Falcon to get off the planet. The kids also need Cousin Ben to get them off the island. Obviously, Han Solo is in three of the greatest movies of all time, and I'm in, like, six minutes of this movie, but I still thought of him as Han.
DETAILS: Any truth to the rumors that a Bored to Death movie is in the works?
JASON SCHWARTZMAN: I can't say too much, but I can say that there might be more stories to be told. [Silence] But who knows, things can happen, or they cannot happen.
DETAILS: Do you still keep in touch with your costars from the show, Zach Galifianakis and Ted Danson?
JASON SCHWARTZMAN: I have worked with a lot of people that were great, but for some reason you don't stay in touch. This is an instance where not only have I stayed in touch, but I've made real friends. I talk to Ted and Zach and [author and show creator] Jonathan Ames all the time. We were constantly running around the city, working 16 to 18 hours a day, including shooting at night. It was grueling. I remember I would come home from these 18-hour days, wake up, and get in the car to go to set, and I would be so excited. I didn't care how long we had to work. Every day we would make each other laugh, and we were all bummed it was canceled. So, if we could continue it in some way . . .
DETAILS: In the past, you've expressed your appreciation for film noir and the French New Wave. Do movies influence your style in any way?
JASON SCHWARTZMAN: Fuck yeah. My fascination with clothing has been around before I was even acting in movies. I have always thought of clothes as fun. As a teenager, I was really into Keith Moon, who would wear all of these costumes, which resulted in me, some days, going to high school dressed as a milkman. I was always wearing strange stuff.
When I was doing the Darjeeling Limited, we were shooting in India, and we found these tailors who made these great suits and shirts. They worked really quickly and charged way less than if you were getting a custom suit in L.A.
So I'm in India, and I always watch a lot of movies when I'm working, usually ones that have nothing to do with the thing I'm shooting. Then I was watching tons of Gene Kelly movies, and I thought, "I should wear something like this!" In those films he wears a lot of suits that are really boxy and high-waisted. I got two suits made, and I'm so excited, and I'm like, "This is great, I'm going to look like Gene Kelly!" The tailors made me exactly what I asked for. That's when I realized that I'm not Gene Kelly. I don't have that body; I'm not an athletic dancer. I basically looked like an idiot. It was a very clear example of how movies can affect the way you dress, but you should also know who you aren't.
DETAILS: Which designers do you love these days?
JASON SCHWARTZMAN: I really like Acne. I think they're just great. I also have a lot of friends who make clothes, like Humberto Leon, who owns Opening Ceremony. He also designs for Kenzo; he made me this suit that I absolutely love. I did recently buy a Baracuta jacket. They're this old English company. I could never find one that fit right, but just recently I got one from this special line called the Made in England series. They're made in the old style, so they're a little smaller. I got one in green, and right now it's my favorite jacket. But I have a kid now so, financially, I've got to set my priorities. I can't just be out buying clothes all the time.
—Keith Wagstaff is a writer and editor based in Brooklyn. Follow him @kwagstaff.
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