Jason Schwartzman has built a fantastic acting career for himself ever since his debut performance starring in Wes Anderson’s Rushmore. He’s worked with great directors like David O. Russell, Edgar Wright, and Judd Apatow (in addition to multiple collaborations with Anderson), and has stretched his skills to the small screen starring the terrific-yet-short-lived HBO series Bored To Death. But not only is Schwartzman a talented actor, he is also a skilled musician, both as a solo act and drummer and songwriter for the band Phantom Planet. In the new film Saving Mr. Banks, the actor sees both of those worlds collide portraying the legendary Disney composer Richard Sherman.

Last month I had the chance to talk with Schwartzman about that career blending and a whole lot more at a recent press day for the new film held in Los Angeles. Read on to discover what led Schwartzman to the role, what it was like working right alongside Sherman in preparing for his part, and the current status of the Bored To Death movie.

When you first start looking at scripts, when you’re approaching projects, what exactly would you say it is that you’re looking for?

I don’t know. I can’t tell you. I don’t really know and I think that’s why it is, it’s a very confusing process, a strange process, and I don’t know. I think, like, I also think like there are certain people who are good at reading scripts. They can see things, and I think I’m trying to just become better at that, but no, I mean, to me, like it’s just, yeah, I don’t know. It’s more of a, I think, pretty early on, you know, within five or ten pages.

You have an idea?

I can’t tell if it’s like great or not, but just like, I don’t know, just choices of words, and language and the way things are, you can just kind of tell.

So you kind of hone in on the language, more than the stories or characters?

No, just like the choice, if the guy wrote it, it’s just the choices that, the choices that the person made, you know what I mean? Like, I don’t know. If you walked into a house, but the owner wasn’t there, but you were trying to figure out who he was based on how he furnished the place. It’s a little like that. You’re just sort of assessing it, in the beginning I’m just sort of assessing it on the things, like little details and facts, but for me, it’s really a gut feeling.

What was the process of getting into this project? Were you approached about it? Was that something that you went after?

It was very strange actually, and I’m just remembering this now, Basically, the way that it all first came up was when Moonrise Kingdom was playing at the Cannes film festival, I was sitting next to Alexandre Desplat who is a great film composer, and I was sitting next to him, and as the lights were dimming he said, "Oh I forgot to tell you, I just had a meeting about you with Disney for the one of the Sherman brothers," and then the movie started and I was. He just put this thing in, and then it turned out that my older brother John Schwartzman, he shot this movie.

Yeah, I saw his name in the credits! I was curious about that.

Yeah, he emailed me and he said, "Hey, John Lee Hancock is directing this movie and you’re going to get a call from him, about meeting and sitting down with him, but I’m doing this movie and it’s incredible." I hadn’t read the script of anything, so it’s sort of hearing about it, and then I got the script and I read it, and I was just, it was just like, I don’t know. It was up my alley in many ways, like I loved Mary Poppins. I love any story of the making of anything, I’m very interested in, like I love all those behind the classic albums DVDs, anything, I love anything about the creative process, and then of course, it’s about music, and you see songwriting and it was really like, I was just like, I couldn’t believe the opportunity.

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