Jason Schwartzman tells Quint wearing women's underwear was the key to unlocking Gideon Graves! Yeah, it's a fun interview!
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with the last of my Scott Pilgrim interviews. I’m sorry for the blitz this week, but we had access to most of the giant Pilgrim cast and couldn’t pass up the opportunity to talk with as many people as we could. My final interview is, appropriately, with the final Evil Ex in the movie, Gideon Graves, played by Jason Schwartzman. I met Schwartzman a long time ago when he and Wes Anderson came through Austin on a bus tour promoting Rushmore and a few years back had a great interview around the release of The Darjeeling Limited that had nothing to do with the movie, but instead turned into a movie geek chat about our childhood favorite movies (Click here to read that chat!). Leading up to this particular interview we talked a little about his HBO show BORED TO DEATH (he said he thought the first few episodes were a little shaky, but loved the groove they found around mid-season and that he can’t wait for the second season) and then went right into bullshitting about the awesome Warner Archive slate of rare New-to-DVD films. That’s where the interview picks up below. Hope you guys enjoy the chat. I think it turned out really good, myself. Let’s get to is, shall we?
Quint: When I was on set, I remember we were talking about the Warner Archive stuff; did you end up getting a chance to pick up any of those?
Jason Schwartzman: Not yet, not yet.
Quint: They are really going crazy with them now, because I think the first round was a big success.
Jason Schwartzman: Well, I’m overwhelmed because I look on the site and there are so many now. I don’t know where to start with them.
Quint: Well you have to see FREEBIE AND THE BEAN, that’s a big one.
Jason Schwartzman: Oh, I know that one.
Jason Schwartzman: I know that.
Quint: Oh, that’s right. That’s what got us talking about it in the first place.
Jason Schwartzman: Are you custom ordering them or are you just getting what they put out?
Quint: I buy them. I don’t get the free shit, that’s Harry. Harry gets all of the free DVDs because of his column. (laughs)
Jason Schwartzman: Yeah, but they can make them on demand.
Quint: That’s what it is, yeah.
Jason Schwartzman: But some are just out, right?
Quint: Not the Warner Archive titles. All of the Archive titles are custom made.
Jason Schwartzman: Because at Cinephile, they have like a ton of them. Maybe those were just the ones they ordered.
Quint: They probably just bought them, yeah.
Jason Schwartzman: Yeah, wow my God. What did Harry get? All of them?
Quint: I don’t know if Harry gets the Warner Archive titles. I remember I was on the Criterion list for a while, so I can’t complain too much. Every week I would just be like “Holy Shit, Kurosawa!”
Jason Schwartzman: For free?
Quint: For a bit. Review copies.
Jason Schwartzman: Amazing.
Quint: So, what do you think of the craze around the flick? You obviously saw it with the Comic-Con audience. Was that the first time you had seen the finished film?
Jason Schwartzman: Yeah. For me, it was really nerve-wracking, because I’ve never been a part of anything before where the audience knows the characters and not only knows them, but really is invested in them and each have their favorite characters and know that these characters have to come into the movie at some point. You know like in sitcoms when Kramer walks through the door or something and there’s like an applause?
Jason Schwartzman: That was… I don’t expect that to be the reaction anywhere else, but at Comic Con that was such a nice feeling, like having people be enthusiastic and cheer when Knives Chou comes in or they see their favorite characters arrive. Bryan [Lee O’Malley] has worked so hard on these books and then Edgar has worked so hard adapting it with Michael Bacall and then Michael [Cera] worked so hard, so many hours… I was just afraid that… I want the world to like it. I want America to like it, but I want those people to like it first because they are getting it first and I want them to say, “Yes, it’s good.” Like their stamp of approval because they like it more than even I do. They know more about the books, do you know what I’m saying? They are the people who really know everything and so really they are the experts and they are the people who deserve the best version of this movie, so like when we first got like an applause, it was like a strange release of adrenaline and then the next feelings I had where being happy for Michael, Edgar, and Bryan. I think I spent more time kind of looking at them throughout the screening than the movie. Michael was crying. He had tears in his eyes. They were really worked up.
Quint: I know there’s got to be a lot of pressure, especially for Michael, because there are so many people, a lot of fans especially, who were like “I don’t know if he can pull it off. I don’t know if he can do it” and to hear that validation after a year of having that on your brain, that must have just been incredible.
Jason Schwartzman: Yeah.
Quint: But yeah, it’s a testament I think to Bryan’s work where you have that reaction at the screening because you are right. Knives came up and applause, Wallace shows up, applause… Everybody has their favorite character. Every new character that showed up got a reaction from the crowd.
Jason Schwartzman: It was so cool. I know we will never have that kind of an audience ever again and it bums me out, because I want…
Quint: You might get it with the Austin audience. Are you coming out to Austin?
Jason Schwartzman: Yeah, yeah. Do you think they will give it up like that?
Quint: It’s The Alamo audience.
Jason Schwartzman: Oh great, okay good. Well maybe I should fly in everyone I know there, because… All of a sudden after the first half hour at Comic Con, I started to wish everyone was in the room, so they could see… “See what I did last summer?”
Quint: Now I will say the Austin theater is only going to be like 220 seats, so that’s a big difference though when you have like 1300 people…
Jason Schwartzman: That was a lot of people, yeah. It was fun.
Quint: I remember when you pop up in the movie, people applauded too. Were you kind of waiting for that moment?
Jason Schwartzman: I’m not a negative (guy)… Well, I am negative. A lot. And like there was a feeling of like first it was the hump of like “Are they going to not like some stuff?” Then they are laughing and you feel good and then you are loving it loving it and then all of a sudden you are like “Oh my God, I’m next” and then I just started to be like “I don’t want to do this… I don’t want to be in this movie… I wish I was never in this movie… They are not going to like me. I don’t want to be a part of this.” “I don’t want to be Gideon.” Do you know what I mean? Especially after so many amazing fights with really big guys, I didn’t want to be the let down, so I just wanted to do okay. I wanted to keep it going and I just hoped that I did.
Quint: Well here’s the thing, what I find really interesting and it didn’t really hit me as much reading the book, but watching the movie it immediately struck me how everyone of the main characters could be somebody you fucking hate if they were just played a little bit too much one way or the other. Gideon is very much somebody that could be a big problem. You could be too cartoony, but you play him with such a level of trendy, slight douchiness I think… You kind of have that party guy mentality, but he’s trying to be very likeable, you know?
Jason Schwartzman: It was ever changing for me in my brain because I was just scared… I wasn’t scared, like I try not to approach it with fear, but… Especially like I show up to Toronto and they had been shooting for like six months, so they are like in this real rhythm and I was shooting BORED TO DEATH, so I was in a whole different kind of rhythm. You show up there and Edgar was showing me a bunch of the other Evil Exes and some rough stuff and I’m like “Oh my God… I am fucked. I don’t know what I’m going to do here.”
Quint: And you have to be the top guy, so you have to follow everybody else, yeah.
Jason Schwartzman: It was just really scary. They did them all in order like that. It was really intimidating. One thing Edgar said is (Gideon) is he’s passive aggressive, so he said like “(Be) as nice as you want to be smile as much as you want to smile. Remember, when we meet Gideon, he is happy because he’s met Scott Pilgrim, but he’s got Ramona back now.” So you know, in my mind I played a lot of the movie imagined that I was wearing her underwear.
Jason Schwartzman: Do you know what I mean? “I’ve got her… I borrowed her underwear this morning because I had nothing else to wear. I didn’t wear anything up on the shuttle from New York to Toronto, I didn’t have anything and so I’m wearing Ramona’s underwear.” Do you know what I mean?
Quint: Yeah, and you are not threatened by Scott in the least.
Jason Schwartzman: Yeah, “I don’t want to fight, let’s not talk about it… Everything’s fine now… I’m sorry… What can I say?”
Quint: I got the impression that you would have been totally cool with Scott still being in the band and that he’s the one who fucks himself out of the deal.
Jason Schwartzman: Yeah! Bryan said to me, “Maybe Gideon assembled this league one night like he was really drunk and kind of jealous and inebriated, he sent out like a mass text and email saying like ‘Guys and girl… lets start this thing, this League of Evil Exes. Let’s just stop anyone from trying to be with Ramona and let’s just kill them.” So it wasn’t as much like a mastermind, it was just like that’s how it all began, just out of passion and alcohol meeting. That was another thing that was in my brain, but the real zinger was Bryan saying to me “Just remember that you are not playing Gideon Graves, you are playing Scott’s version of Gideon Graves because the whole movie is through his eyes. So if you are a douche or super evil or if you don’t want to play it redeemable, you don’t have to, because you are not playing a real person.”
Quint: He becomes the representation of Scott Pilgrim finally taking that next step into maturity and Gideon’s just a monster he has to overcome, his own personal demon almost.
Jason Schwartzman: Yeah, and then in a lot of ways, too, Scott and Gideon could be friends in a weird way, like if there wasn’t Ramona. Do you know what I’m saying? That’s always the interesting thing. That’s why I always thought Raymond Chandler’s stuff… like Marlow always seems like he is the guys he’s looking for. You know what I mean?
Quint: Yeah, absolutely.
Jason Schwartzman: And I always like the idea, like even if you look at politics like super left wing people and super right wing… there’s a place where they overlap.
Quint: Yeah, the extremists.
Jason Schwartzman: It’s the same way in my mind with Gideon. He is so extremely bad that he’s kind of good or so extremely good that he’s terrible and just kind of making it ambiguous and always changing who he is. I basically just did what Edgar wanted. I feel like if a composer is writing this extremely large piece of music and conducting it and he’s got all of these parts worked out and you are the French Horn player, you don’t stand up and say “Excuse me, I don’t want to play the horn this way. It doesn’t feel right to me” or something. It’s kind of like “Shut up, there’s a whole orchestra here and you don’t realize all of the various things that I’m trying to put into harmony with each other.” I said to Edgar, “You just be the meter of how douchey you want it.” And we did shades of it. We did some takes where you couldn’t even tell that my character was mean.
Jason Schwartzman: Yeah, and we would do all the way to just pure evil.
Quint: And I think Edgar might have even used a couple of those, because there are moments in that movie where it’s like you are absolutely not the top of the villain pyramid, you know? It’s exactly what you were saying; you could have just been one of Scott’s buddies.
Jason Schwartzman: Yeah, so that’s the greatest thing about working with a director you trust. It should be that way. You should just be able to feel that way, so it was nice.
Quint: Cool, well I think that’s about it.
Jason Schwartzman: I can’t wait for Austin.
Quint: Oh man, it’s going to be great. Thanks for the chat!
And that wraps us up! Hope you guys enjoyed the interview as much as I did. I love talking with Schwartzman because he seems so unphased by the business and always comes across as a genuine film lover and down to Earth person. And he was rocking a crazy awesome Ringo Starr mustache to boot. -Quint email@example.com Follow Me On Twitter
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Aug. 12, 2010, 7:13 a.m. CST
First baby! For the first time...Oh Yeah!
Aug. 12, 2010, 7:13 a.m. CST
I always enjoy Schwartzman's work, makes sense since I'm a big Wes Anderson fan. Thanks for the interview Quint
Aug. 12, 2010, 7:15 a.m. CST
First, for the first time and I spell "First" in the title incorrectly...Jeez. Looking forward to Scott Pilgrim, looks "neat".
Aug. 12, 2010, 7:24 a.m. CST
...and wants his look back.
Aug. 12, 2010, 7:39 a.m. CST
for all us hairy bastards of the world. "Listen son. You're going to be able to do a lot of things the other guys aren't." "Oh yeah, like chase cars, and bite the mailman?"
Aug. 12, 2010, 7:54 a.m. CST
They're not just actors in movies, but clearly love and have knowledge of this world. This was a great interview, and I cannot be any more excited for this movie.
Aug. 12, 2010, 8:21 a.m. CST
...that here we have a big movie star, and he's excited about you getting free review DVDs. Just goes to show, everyone loves free stuff.
Aug. 12, 2010, 9:07 a.m. CST
Your post makes me feel so bad about my taste in movies... no wait, it doesn't at all :)
Aug. 12, 2010, 9:10 a.m. CST
All of this overhype of Scott Pilgrim is only making me push off watching it on video.
Aug. 12, 2010, 9:25 a.m. CST
I don't believe it for a fucking minute.
Aug. 12, 2010, 10:21 a.m. CST
This guy seems like the kind of person I'd have a blast drinking with, but if I met him on the street I'd want to punch him in the face without quite knowing why.
Aug. 12, 2010, 10:24 a.m. CST
I think that's the purpose of SPFan's psy-ops mission. Mission accomplished!
Aug. 12, 2010, 12:28 p.m. CST
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Aug. 12, 2010, 12:45 p.m. CST
Loved Jason in Spun and his series Bored to Death is good stuff also. Hoping Scott Pilgrim is as fun as everyone says. Good interview!
Aug. 12, 2010, 1:05 p.m. CST
by Nasty In The Pasty
"...over and over", yet Schwartzman ALWAYS plays a nebbishy dweeb, and no one bats an eye. "Oh no, not ANOTHER Schwartzman dweeb!"
Aug. 12, 2010, 9:40 p.m. CST
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Aug. 13, 2010, 8:47 a.m. CST
by Abominable Snowcone
Wes Anderson is great. You're entitled to your opinion, but please be aware it's incorrect.
Aug. 13, 2010, 11:18 a.m. CST
People are jealous a geeky nerdy hipster is as successful as Cera.
Aug. 13, 2010, 12:55 p.m. CST
by Turd Furgeson
And a terrible fucking actor.. Jeez Kato Kalin can act circles around this fucktard.. Who's dick did he suck in the back of synagog to start getting acting work??
Aug. 13, 2010, 12:57 p.m. CST
by Turd Furgeson
don't want to disrespect the guys gay name so i'll spell it right.
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