Jason Schwartzman

Also Credited As:

Jason Francesco Schwartzman
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Biography

Despite being a part of a Hollywood legacy, actor Jason Schwartzman squarely earned his own regard as an actor with his knack for thoughtful, melancholy characters with a dry sense of humor. His unique screen presence was apparent from his debut as an oddly adult prep school student in Wes Anderson's "Rushmore" (1998). After the release of that critical darling, he would reteam with the hit-and-miss director to co-script the less popular "The …
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Job Title

Actor, Producer, Writer, Music, Other

Born

Jason Francesco Schwartzman on June 26, 1980 in Los Angeles, California, USA

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About

Despite being a part of a Hollywood legacy, actor Jason Schwartzman squarely earned his own regard as an actor with his knack for thoughtful, melancholy characters with a dry sense of humor. His unique screen presence was apparent from his debut as an oddly adult prep school student in Wes Anderson's "Rushmore" (1998). After the release of that critical darling, he would reteam with the hit-and-miss director to co-script the less popular "The Darjeeling Limited" (2007) and voice the hailed Roald Dahl adaptation "The Fantastic Mr. Fox" (2009), making his quirky relationship with Anderson a highlight in his onscreen career. Schwartzman also had supporting roles in a few mainstream studio films, but his sensibility leaned towards more inventive, character-driven projects like, "I (heart) Huckabees" (2004), in which he played an idealistic young activist, and "Shopgirl" (2005), Steve Martin's novella adaptation that pitted Schwartzman as a ragtag roadie and aspiring artist against Martin as the sophisticated older man vying for the love of a woman. Schwartzman also found creative success as a musician with the moderately popular indie band Phantom Planet and as a composer whose work appeared on well-known film and television soundtracks. His first outing as a television cast member was short-lived but he found more success when he was cast in the lead in HBO's "Bored to Death" (HBO, 2009-), a quirky comedy well tailored to the actor's talent for frustrated artists with an offbeat, intellectual charm.

Born on June 26, 1980 in Los Angeles, Schwartzman was the son of producer Jack Schwartzman and actress-director Talia Shire. Also among his family of Hollywood notables were his grandfather, Oscar-winning composer Carmine Coppola, cousin Nicolas Cage, uncle Francis Ford Coppola, and filmmaking cousin Sofia Coppola. Although he auditioned for the role of Tom Hanks' matchmaking son in 1993's "Sleepless in Seattle" - a role that went to Ross Malinger - acting was not Schwartzman's primary focus, and he was actually reluctant to embark on a career in the movie industry, which he accurately labeled "the family business." At age 14, he made his first mark as a musician, forming the alternative pop rock band Phantom Planet, in which he served as drummer and songwriter. Phantom Planet was signed to Geffen Records and released its debut album, Phantom Planet Is Missing, in late 1998, promoting the new release with a band guest spot on the series "Sabrina the Teenage Witch" (ABC, 1996-2000; WB, 2000-03). That was just one of the landmark events of Schwartzman's eighteenth year. He also graduated from the L.A.'s Windward School that spring and made his feature film debut in Wes Anderson's smart, stylized indie comedy "Rushmore" (1998). The leery actor was introduced to the film's casting director by cousin Sophia, who was familiar with Anderson's screenplay and thought Schwartzman was a good fit for the part - that of a creatively talented, non-academic overachiever with a penchant for older women.

"Rushmore" was released to rave reviews, and the engaging newcomer with the bushy eyebrows and perpetually thoughtful expression seemed entirely at ease acting opposite comedy veteran Bill Murray as the high school senior's fifty-something executive mentor and rival for the affections of luminous first grade teacher (Olivia Williams). Schwartzman's impeccable comic timing and deadpan delivery earned the actor a YoungStar Award for Best Young Actor in a Comedy, and nominations from the Chicago Film Critics and Chlotrudis Awards. Incidentally, the film's buzz also helped usher in a new era of viability for Murray's flagging career, and put Anderson at the top of the indie filmmaker watch list. With his debut earning such an endearing spotlight, Schwartzman chose his subsequent roles carefully, making his next appearance in the short-lived but critically acclaimed high school drama, "Freaks and Geeks" (NBC, 1999-2000) in a guest spot as a student who deals in fake IDs. Schwartzman remained partial to smaller projects with his role as a horror filmmaker brought in to assist a sci-fi movie production in 1960s Paris in cousin Roman Coppola's directorial debut "CQ" (2001), but gave in to the allure of mainstream Hollywood - first, in the anti-high school comedy "Slackers" (2002), followed that same year, with a small supporting role in "S1mone" (2002), starring Al Pacino as a down-and-out Hollywood director who turns a computer-generated woman (Rachel Roberts) into a star.

Meanwhile Schwartzman continued recording and performing with Phantom Planet, whose second album, The Guest, marked their breakthrough thanks to the track "California" being picked up as the theme song for the popular teen drama series, "The O.C." (Fox, 2003-07). Schwartzman toured and supported the album with the band but the following year, while recording a follow-up, the actor's increasing show business demands led to his decision to put his music career on hold. He was back in front of film festival audiences in the gritty but darkly comic "Spun" (2003), a generally well-received effort that starred Schwartzman as a meth addict enduring a high drama weekend and running afoul of the law. In the spring of 2004, Schwartzman was cast by screenwriter Mike White to star in the sitcom "Cracking Up" (Fox, 2004), about a dysfunctional Beverly Hills family, but even a rotating guest roster of alternative comedy kingpins (Jack Black, Kyle Gass, Amy Sedaris) and positive reviews were not enough to draw in viewers. Schwartzman rebounded with his return to offbeat, cerebral feature films, playing an environmental activist who hires husband and wife "existential detectives" (Dustin Hoffman and Lily Tomlin) to help him uncover meaning in his life in writer-director David O. Russell's "I [Heart] Huckabees" (2004).

From his supporting role as Will Ferrell's truth-impaired Hollywood agent in the dismal adaptation of the 1960s TV series "Bewitched" (2005), Schwartzman went on to earn critical notice for "Shopgirl" (2005), the screen adaptation of Steve Martin's bestselling novella in which he co-starred as an uncultured, not-so-successful bachelor competing with a wealthy sophisticate (Martin) for the affections of a salesgirl (Claire Danes). Next, Schwartzman was recruited and miscast by cousin Sophia Coppola to play the romantic male lead in her stylish costume romance, "Marie Antoinette" (2006), where he gave a slyly detached performance as the young King Louis XVI who weds the daughter of Austrian nobility (Kirsten Dunst), only to spend the next several years failing to consummate the marriage, much to the chagrin of the court advisors wanting an heir to the throne. Following the failure of the fluffy offering, Schwartzman was inspired to return to music. Under the moniker, Coconut Records, he released the album Nighttiming. The commercially successful venture produced the track "West Coast," which was featured on "The O.C." and on the soundtrack to the film "Cloverfield" (2008), as well as the single "Summer Day" which appeared on the "Spider-Man 3" (2007) soundtrack.

The actor, musician, composer and songwriter revealed further talents in 2007 when he co-scripted "The Darjeeling Limited" (2007) with filmmaker Wes Anderson and cousin Roman Coppola. Since Anderson and Schwartzman's coinciding breakouts a decade earlier, both had been accused of revisiting similar territory in their careers, but with "Darjeeling Limited," both showed an admirable attempt to find greater depth in their work. The self-conscious, emotionally distant façade of Anderson's films began to crack slightly in the story of three brothers (Schwartzman, Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody) who embark on a train trip across India to visit their ex-pat mother. Critical reviews were largely positive, but the film was unfortunately released in the shadow of co-star Wilson's failed suicide attempt which cast a bit of doom and gloom around the film and limited its promotion. Schwartzman's starring role as a man unable to move beyond his years as a high school musical star in "The Marc Pease Experience" (2008), from filmmaker Todd Louiso, was only released in limited theaters, but Schwartzman went wide the following year in the Judd Apatow production "Funny People" (2009). A dramedy hailed as his most "mature" film yet, the stand-up comedy circuit chronicle starred Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen, Leslie Mann and Schwartzman as a comic who finds his breakthrough into the sitcom world is not all he had hoped it would be. In addition to Schwartzman's solid performance, two songs from his sophomore Coconuts Records effort, Davy, were featured on the soundtrack.

Five years after Schwartzman's first attempt to translate his indie film sensibilities to primetime audiences, he returned to television comedy with HBO's "Bored to Death" (HBO, 2009- ). The series about an aspiring (and depressive) writer who, on a whim, launches a side business as a detective, co-starred Zach Galifianakis as his comic book-loving best friend. The series was further boosted by alternative comedy and indie film mainstays like guest directors Paul Feig and Nicole Holofcener and players including Parker Posey, Oliver Platt, John Hodgman and Jim Jarmusch. Positive word of mouth and promising ratings led to the series renewal for a second season, while Schwartzman scored a big screen success with "The Fantastic Mr. Fox" (2009), Wes Anderson's animated adaptation of the Roald Dahl book co-scripted with Noah Baumbach. Schwartzman co-starred as the son of a wily Fox (George Clooney) who just cannot leave his chicken-thieving ways behind and live the quiet life with his wife (Meryl Streep) and son (Schwartzman). The film was hailed as one of the best of Anderson's career, putting Schwartzman in the cat bird seat for his appearances in both a buzzed about film and television series simultaneously.