Jason Schwartzman made the transition that some teen actors can’t broker. His first film, Wes Anderson‘s “Rushmore,” was a big hit and launched his career. But the years after were a bit lean and or unremarkable. It wasn’t until six years later, with David O. Russell’s “I Heart Huckabees,” that the actor proved he was more than a one-hit wonder (though those that remember know he was pretty hilarious in his small “CQ” role).
On a Marc Maron podcast from earlier this year, the actor revealed that before ‘Huckabees’ he almost starred in another David O. Russell movie, an unnamed mystery film that Schwartzman wrote some of the music score for, and that the director pulled the plug on very shortly before filming was set to begin.
“Before [‘Huckabees’] there was another movie we were supposed to make,” he explained. “Right after ‘Rushmore’ I met him and he said, ‘I got a movie idea and I wanna talk to you about it,’ and I sat down and it was this super in-depth movie about — an ensemble movie. And it was going, there was a cast, a crew, a script and I was prepared to do it and we were talking about it and having these meetings and a few weeks before we started it he called me on the phone really early in the morning and he said, ‘I’m just gonna give you the call first before I call anyone else, I’m gonna say we’re not going to do this movie, I’m going to pause this movie because it just doesn’t feel right and I don’t wanna do something unless it feels right; I promised myself I wouldn’t do that.’ ”
“I was heartbroken cause I was so ready to do the movie,” the actor/musician said, but he said Russell ended the conversation with this vow: “ ‘I promise you the next thing we’ll do you will be in it, I promise you. ‘” That of course turned out to be ‘Huckabees,’ and the filmmaker kept his word.
Schwartzman said he went back to his normal life, went on tour again, and a few months later he was sent a new script by Russell with a handwritten note that read, “lovingly crafted for you, love David O. Russell.”
What was the original movie that Russell almost made and changed his mind last minute? Schwartzman isn’t telling, but revealed a little detail. “Well, maybe he’ll make it one day, so I don’t want to say too much, but it involved a lot of music, I had written a lot of music for it.”
As for the ‘Huckabees,’ the pre-production process was so unorthodox it essentially led to Schwartzman camping out at his director’s house every day to work on the script. “It blew my mind,” Schwartzman said. “It was about a year of me going to David’s house every day and we’d go on a hike and — he’s so busy that it was hard to schedule a meeting to talk on the phone to talk about it. So I figured, I’ll go to his house every day and I’ll sit in the other room and if he has 10 minutes free he can come in and talk about it and then he can go back and I can just be there. And that’s what I did.”
“He was ok with that?” Maron asked with a laugh. Schwartzman explained, “He loved it. It was great for me. I would go to his house and I would set up in his den/TV room with the script and notes and I would write questions and if David said, ‘I got 45 minutes, wanna go for a walk?’ We’d go for a walk and I would go over what I was thinking about and that was how it evolved. It was amazing… it was the best, I have so many great experiences from it.”
Amusingly enough, Schartzman says that while Dustin Hoffman saw the movie as a farce, he saw it as something much darker and serious. “I thought it was about this guy who was at a breaking point who saw all these coincidences and thought they must be something more. And who could he go talk to? He needed guidance. And he found these existential detectives who could help him sort out his life. It made total sense to me. Because we would talked bout it every day and talk about love and disaster and being confused and lost. By the time we got to shooting it was a very serious movie about a guy going to find existential detectives.”
The entire conversation is great. Schwartzman talks about his music career, working with Wes Anderson, the creation of ‘Huckabees’ (with many more amusing stories), and more. Listen to the entire hour-and-twenty-five-minute podcast below. Any guesses on that mystery project?