Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom is second only to The Royal Tenenbaums in box office grosses, but you'd never feel that way after watching the onslaught of positive reviews solidifying it as one of the year's most well-liked movies. The story of two young kids hopelessly in love who stage a daring plan to run away together amidst the hectic world of Boy Scouts and troubled marriages in a sleepy New England town is bound to make an appearance on many best-of lists at the end of the year, and it may even sneak an Oscar nod to boot.
Hilariously charming, poetic and lovable in almost every way, Moonrise Kingdom may be Wes Anderson's best film to date -- and although he's only in the movie for about 10 minutes, Jason Schwartzman steals every second he's on-screen as the fast-talking scout leader, Cousin Ben. Movies.com sat down with Schwartzman to talk about his character in Moonrise Kingdom and Wes Anderson movies in general (he's been in a lot of them) ahead of the film arriving on DVD and Blu-ray today.
Movies.com: So which is crazier: Joining the Boy Scouts or running away with your first love?
Jason Schwartzman: It depends on so many things. Your age... and your height and your weight. Oh, and the girl. What I would say is, for me, it's crazier to join the Boy Scouts. For somebody else, definitely crazier to run away with your first love.
Movies.com: What was the craziest thing you did at 13?
Schwartzman: Oh man... a lot. There was a lot. Let me come back to that... we only have 10 minutes.
Movies.com: We loved the Funny or Die sketch you did where you watch Moonrise Kingdom as your character from Moonrise Kingdom with the scouts featured in the movie. Can you just make an entire movie as that character? Is that possible?
Schwartzman: I would do it. If Wes was like, I want to do a TV show about your scoutmaster character, or another movie about him, I would definitely do it.
Movies.com: Your interaction with these kids is brilliant in the movie, though it feels like you were operating at super speed. Was it difficult for the kids, as young actors, to keep up with you? Was any of it improv?
Schwartzman: It wasn't improv, no. You know it's funny -- what I love about making movies is no matter how much you think something is going to go down or how it's going to be, until you get there and figure out the lay of the land, you really can't know how things are going to go. Case in point: I read the scene (where I walk with all the kids); I was learning my lines and I was, like, I think I know how Wes [Anderson] is going to maybe want this. But when I showed up to do the scene -- I shot my scenes when I had a couple days off from Bored to Death -- I got up there and they were right in the middle of shooting.
They brought me over and said, okay, this is where you're going to do the big walk with all these kids. Basically, I don't know if it's obvious from the shot, but me and the kids are walking on this very narrow plank of wood. There's a rail to our left, and 10 feet to the ground, and then like 500 scouts in the background doing various things like archery, ropes courses and rocket building and stuff. The camera is rolling alongside us trying to film it, and the thing is the track runs out at a certain point, and so I had to say all my lines before the track ran out or else we'd all fall off. So I think that's what informed my character the most. I was, like, okay I guess he talks really fast. I think that helped with the way I interacted with the kids, because there really wasn't any time to interact with them. There was just time to talk and listen and keep walking forward, or else we'd fall.
Movies.com: Have you and Wes Anderson ever discussed cross-pollinating with characters from one of his previous movies doing something in the background?
Schwartzman: I've never specifically said, oh this guy could go here or this guy could go there, but Wes and I were recently working on something together -- I was acting in it -- and I said something like, "Hey, this character feels like if these two guys had a baby" ... but it was from one of his movies. That kind of thing is sort of in the spirit of what you're saying. I like that. It would be like The Avengers.
Movies.com: Exactly! The Avengers of Wes Anderson movies. Like what's Max Fischer (from Rushmore) doing right now?
Schwartzman: I don't know. I don't know. What do you think he's doing?
Movies.com: Probably watching Moonrise Kingdom for the 30th time.
Schwartzman: [Laughs] Maybe he is.
Movies.com: Do you feel a difference in the movies Wes Anderson cowrote with Owen Wilson (Bottle Rocket, Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums) versus the ones he cowrote with Roman Coppola (The Darjeeling Limited, Moonrise Kingdom).
Schwartzman: For me, I love everything he's done, and they're all very emotional. I also just think the stories you want to tell and the places you want to go as you get older, and the things you're interested in -- that might have something to do with it too. I think it's probably the combination. Roman is somebody who approaches life from almost the way an abstract thinker would. Or someone who is good at puzzles. He's good at igniting ideas because he asks strange questions. He approaches life from an odd angle; he runs a company, is very straight-thinking, but he has the ability, if need be, to switch on this other thinking brain that is just very interesting, playful and bizarre. He's great at pulling things out of you.
Movies.com: So who are you playing in Anderson's next one, The Grand Budapest Hotel?
Schwartzman: Am I allowed to say? I don't think I'm allowed to say yet. I can't say.
Movies.com: But you're in it?
Schwartzman: Yes, I'm going to be in it. I'm playing Cousin Ben (referring to his Moonrise Kingdom character). No, I'm just kidding -- wouldn't that be crazy? No, but I'm excited about it. It's a beautiful movie.
Moonrise Kingdom is out on DVD and Blu-ray today.
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