Jason Schwartzman on ‘Moonrise Kingdom’ – ‘It’s a Movie that Has It All.

Jason Schwartzman in "Moonrise Kingdom." (Focus)

Jason Schwartzman, the 32-year-old actor-musician best known for his breakout turn in director Wes Anderson’s Rushmore as well as stylishly contained performances in Scott Pilgrim vs The World, Shopgirl, and the HBO series Bored to Death, jumps into a conversation with unbridled enthusiasm, politeness, and a desire to both please and entertain. Want to talk about music? No prob. Whether he’ll do more TV? No prob. We wanted to chat a bit about Moonrise Kingdom, his latest picture with Anderson – now an XFINITY On Demand™ feature presentation – and when we asked if he was ready, Schwartzman immediately replied, “Not only am I ready, I am going to try to give you the best answers in the world.” All righty then…

So Jason, Moonrise Kingdom is about two 12-year-olds who fall in love for the first time and run away just as a terrible storm hits their island community. Not only are their lives changed forever as they follow their hearts, everyone else’s lives are changed, too. What were your thoughts when you read this script? Wes and Roman [Coppola] wrote a great script. I got a feeling that anything was possible. It was very visceral. I’m not talking about the visual. It was just this feeling that got under my skin as I read it. I thought this is unique. Things are happening, and I could feel them. I could feel the passion and the possibilities – and that’s really a great thing for a movie about love.

Two questions related to the movie: The 12-year-old boy in this movie is a Boy Scout – were you ever a Boy Scout? And also, do you remember your first love? I was a Boy Scout. I joined when I was young. Like most people, I was pumped to learn how to tie all the knots and learn the survival skills. I went to the store where you get your uniform and was excited. I couldn’t wait to learn all these different skills and get the merit badges. Then we went on our first camping trip. I resigned immediately afterward. I was an indoor kid.

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How about falling in love for the first time? My first love. Hmmm. There was a girl I was in love with in kindergarten. She ended up randomly dating a guy in my old band [Phantom Planet] for years. It was a little bit like a minor version of the Mamas and the Papas.

Do you have a favorite scene in Moonrise? Yes. There’s a scene when Bill Murray and Francis McDormand are laying on their backs in bed and there’s a tremendous storm happening outside. They’ve been through some serious stuff and things in their lives have changed. Both are lawyers. And they talk about the different cases they’re working on and they don’t look each other in the eye. I feel like that one scene is why Francis McDormand and Bill Murray are such incredible actors and why Wes is such a great writer and director. It’s beautiful, simple but extremely powerful.

Most people watching this movie with XFINITY On Demand™ will be seeing it for the first time. Is there a small detail in that movie that you love that might get overlooked if it wasn’t pointed out? In other words, what little detail should first-time viewers of the movie look out for? Good question. I love the way the Boy Scout camp looks. The amount of detail that goes into building that stuff is amazing. It’s all hand-made for the movie. When I first saw the tents from afar they looked fake, almost like miniatures. There was a surreal quality to it. The same thing with the treehouse on top of the tree. They actually built that thing up there. I think stuff like that is interesting. Like in this day and age when so much can be fabricated and made in computers after a movie. I think it’s a fun thing to consider when you’rw watching one of Wes’ movies that all the stuff has been custom-built, and very meticulously built, for the movie.

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Speaking of that meticulousness, you’ve worked with Wes a few times. Did you notice a stylistic change in him following Fantastic Mr. Fox where he not only controlled but created every detail? I started to notice that as he’s gotten older he’s also grown more self-assured. On Rushmore and the other movies, they were all big productions. They had trailers and big crews of people. If you were to look at them from a distance, you’d say, “Hey, they’re shooting a movie over there.” But now I think Wes is trying to do everything on a more communal and smaller level. If you had seen the Moonrise set, you probably would’ve thought someone was shooting a small TV show or a student film. Wes and all the actors lived in a big house together and had meals at the end of the day. Everyone sat at a big long dining table and talked about the day’s work. But the real reason he’s doing it is that it gives him a nimbleness. When you have people leaving the set, coming and going, it slows down a production. He spends the majority of his time building things and thinking about what he wants. He figures it out. Then, once the actors arrive all the prep has been done and he gets to the work. On Moonrise, I showed up, my wardrobe was waiting for me in my room at the house. I put it on at the house, did my hair and rode to the set. I stepped out of the car, fixed my moustache slightly, and I was ready to shoot. It was really fun. Here’s another way of saying it: If you call timeout after every play, you never get momentum. This way you get momentum, and keep it.

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Here’s the fun question. People watching with XFINITY On Demand have tens of thousands of choices every night. What’s your pitch as to why they should pick Moonrise Kingdom? I love this question because I am one of those people. I sit there in front of my TV at night trying to figure out what to watch On Demand. I know there are nights when you’re sitting there with your significant other and you say, Tonight I’m not in the mood for something heavy. Or tonight I’m in the mood for a thriller or a documentary or a comedy. Moonrise Kingdom is a movie that has it all. It’s funny, it’s uplifting, but it also has some really beautiful filmmaking and it’s something you can say to people, “I saw that movie and you should see it because it made me think about a couple things.” This is a good bang for your money.

What’s going on with you musically? I put out this soundtrack to a little movie called Goats. I did the music with my friend Woody [Jackson]. I scored that. And as for my own stuff, basically I’m trying to accumulate enough songs to make an album and to do that I need to over accumulate. I heard or read about an art teacher talking about a sculptor who made a walrus and someone asked, “How’d you do that?” He said, “I took away everything that wasn’t a walrus.” I feel that’s my method of making music. I feel like I have to subtract a ton of crap to get something that’s still not great but better than a ton of crap.

What are you listening to now? There’s been some great music the last couple years. I’ve been listening to the Beach Boys boxed set of Smile. I love the new Grizzly Bear album. I’ve been listening to Kurt Vile’s album Smoke Ring for My Halo. And my new favorite album I just got is by a band from Australia called Tame Impala. They put out an album called Lonerism and it’s beautiful.

How about TV? Will you consider another series? Of course. I had such an incredible time working on the show with Jonathan [Ames] and Ted [Danson] and Zach [Galifianaks]. I know some people won’t go to a restaurant unless it’s fancy. To me, I just care about the food. If the thing is fun and great, I’m up for anything.

What’s your latest project? I have a movie coming out in February called A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III. With Charlie Sheen and Bill Murray. Then I’m starting a movie in a couple weeks called Saving Mr. Banks. It’s a movie about the making of Mary Poppins. I’m playing Richard Sherman, who is one half of the Sherman brothers songwriting team – the great, great Sherman brothers songwriting team. It’s interesting.

As are pretty much all your projects. I’m having a good time.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.
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