Jason Schwartzman Interview
The ever-comical Jason Schwartzman was in Chicago last Friday, October 24, 2014, promoting his new film Listen Up Philip. He stars as a narcissistic successful book author who irritates anyone that comes in contact with him, including Ashley (Elisabeth Moss), his continually tormented girlfriend. Director and screenplay writer of the film, Alex Ross Perry, shows us a side of Schwartzman that we’ve not seen on screen, illuminating his multifaceted acting chops. We chatted about his role in the film, the Woody Allen similarities in some of the film scenes, his start in acting in the film Rushmore, and his best friend, Wes Anderson.
Sarah Knight Adamson: I’d like to congratulate you on your performance in the film Listen Up Philip. You are so convincing as an antisocial, cranky guy with no filter.
Jason Schwartzman: Oh, thank you so much. I appreciate you saying that.
SKA: At first, it’s a little shocking to view you in this role, I must say, because it’s such a change from the characters you typically play. Did it take some time to really “get into” this narcissistic character?
JS: Yeah, I think that it took a little bit of time, but not in the way where it was like … oh, to feel like this person all the time or something, but it definitely took a little bit of time to just start to think in those ways. I personally could understand a lot of what this character was feeling based on what he’s saying to people. I think we all can relate to wanting to say some of these types of things to people and not really acting on it. The ability to not care what people think about you, as this character does, was one pretty big hurdle.
I would ask Alex, the director, and I would give him hypothetical situations, like “If Philip walked into this situation and this happened, how would he react?” I would show him how I thought it should be and typically was always wrong. The answer that I had in my head was so wrong, and so really it just took a little while to start to think in “Philip logic,” as it were.
Then the other thing that was hard was just this idea that he would take up his idol or his mentor on his invitation to spend time at his house.
SKA: Yes, yes.
JS: That’s just something that I could not understand. If Brian Wilson or Paul McCartney or someone that I love so much said, “Come get out of the city and spend some time at my private residence, and you can write music there on my piano and use my studio,” I would be very shut down by that kind of an offer.
SKA: Yes, that actually leads into my next question because he does say things that some of us are thinking but never would say, and it also … appears, as you were just giving an example, that he makes such terrible decisions.