Call with Jason Schwartzman — Fantastic Mr. Fox

fantastic-mr-fox-jason-schwartzmanOne day while I was a tweeting I happened upon a tweet about a conference call with Jason Schwartzman. Have I mentioned how much I LOVE my job!?!

Jason Schwartzman is in a new film — Fantastic Mr Fox. I was on the call with @debontherocks,  @dipaolamomma, @momlogic, @babysteph, @5minutes for mom, and more…

I typed up this post while the conference call was going on, hence the stream of consciousness quality of this post… Here’s what I learned from the conference call.

In the Fantastic Mr. Fox, Jason Schwartzman is the adolescent son of George Clooney and Meryl Streep. Unlike Clooney’s character who is a good athlete, unlike Jason’s character Ash who is little and gets picked on…likes a girl who doesn’t like him back. Jason as he read the script could completely relate to the character. Film would have helped him when he was growing up.

For Jason, The Fantastic Mr. Fox‘s message is: “It’s OK to be yourself. Being different is what is cool and great. If we were all the same it would be kind of boring. Our uniqueness makes the world a great place.” Important message for adults AND kids.

The film is screening well for kids AND adults. Jason wishes the film could “screen for dogs and cats and animals as it would totally work in the animal demographic!” Jason is a very funny guy. He was honest, witty, and sincere.

As a kid Jason and his friends loved digging. Didn’t know where they were digging to. Jason read the book — Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl — as a kid. Loved the idea of foxes in their underground hideaway. “Perfect marriage of Roald Dahl and Wes Anderson,” per Jason.

Jason thinks all adults will love the mechanics behind this animated movie. 125,000 still images. 3 years of work. Hundreds of animators. Animation is an arduous and long process. 

Jason think kids will love physical humor. “Amazing puppetry work in the film. It’s amazing what you can do with the puppets!”

During the recording of the actors’ voices the cast lived in a farmhouse. Just picture a h0use inhabited by Meryl Streep, George Clooney,  Bill Murray, and Jason Schwartzman. If scene called for sitting underneath a tree, actors would sit under a tree and read a script — @debontherocks volunteered to be a real-time blogger the next time Wes Anderson films a movie! If characters were eating French toast or biscuits, actors would do the same. At one point Bill Murray acted like a wolf to get other actors in the mood. Wes sent the camera phone footage to animators to base the wolf on Bill Murray’s characterization.

One of the questions from one of the people on the call: Is this a kid’s film or an adult’s film? Jason said it is a movie for everyone. Not just a movie full of jokes for parents, like many Wes Anderson’s films. This is one of Wes’ most accessible movies for all ages. Movie has a warmth. Movie has so many colors it feels like fall, reds, oranges, yellows.

The film is different to Pixar as it uses stop motion animation like Wallace & Gromit. Unlike films like Up, this movie is made by hand…little knitted sweaters, tiny corduroy suits. The stage sets were made by hand.

Jason realized the power of the movie when he heard the audience gasp audibly at the London premiere. This movie is an adventure movie with lots of action…and freedom…like going down the hill on a bicycle.

Part of the movie where there is an issue with Mr. Fox’s tail getting stolen. A fox needs his tail! Ash wants to find his dad’s tail. The nemesis character wears the tail as a tie!
My questions for Jason were not answered due to time — What was it like to film The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy? I love books by Douglas Adams. You are listed as “Uncredited.” Why is that?
I never see you smiling in films. Do you purposefully choose melancholy, broody roles? Would you do a straight out comedy?
Bewitched? What was your motivation to do this film?
Fantastic Mr. Fox is now playing in select cities and opens nationwide on Thanksgiving. Here’s the trailer:

Some details about the film…

FANTASTIC MR. FOX is visionary director Wes Anderson’s first animated film, utilizing classic handmade stop-motion techniques to tell the story of the best-selling children’s book by Roald Dahl (author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and James and the Giant Peach). The film features the voices of George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Wally Wolodarsky, Eric Anderson, Michael Gambon, Willem Dafoe, Owen Wilson, and Jarvis Cocker.
Mr. and Mrs. Fox (Clooney and Streep) live an idyllic home life with their son Ash (Schwartzman) and visiting young nephew Kristofferson (Eric Anderson).  But after twelve years of quiet domesticity, the bucolic existence proves too much for Mr. Fox’s wild animal instincts.  Soon he slips back into his old ways as a sneaky chicken thief and in doing so, endangers not only his beloved family, but the whole animal community. Trapped underground without enough food to go around, the animals band together to fight against the evil Farmers – Boggis, Bunce and Bean – who are determined to capture the audacious, fantastic Mr. Fox at any cost.  In the end, he uses his natural instincts to save his family and friends.

JASON SCHWARTZMAN (Ash) made his motion picture acting debut as Max Fischer, an eccentric high school sophomore in Anderson’s RUSHMORE opposite Bill Murray in 1999, his performance garnering a nomination for Most Promising Actor from the Chicago Film Critics Association. Schwartzman reteamed with Anderson for THE DARJEELING LIMITED, which he co-wrote and starred in opposite Adrien Brody and Owen Wilson, and the short HOTEL CHEVALIER, starring with Natalie Portman.

Schwartzman’s recent credits include Judd Apatow’s FUNNY PEOPLE, starring with Seth Rogen and Adam Sandler. Other feature credits include starring as King Louis XVI in Sofia Coppola’s MARIE ANTOINETTE; SHOPGIRL, starring in a love triangle with Claire Danes and Steve Martin, who also adapted from his novel; BEWITCHED with Nicole Kidman and Will Ferrell; a starring role in David O. Russell’s existential comedy I ?HUCKABEES with Dustin Hoffman, Naomi Watts, Jude Law, and Lily Tomlin; Roman Coppola’s directorial debut, C.Q.; S1M0NE starring Al Pacino and Catharine Keener; and the ensemble comedy SLACKERS.  Schwartzman recently wrapped production in Edgar Wright’s comic book adaptation, SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD opposite Michael Cera.

Jason is currently starring in the new HBO comedy series “Bored To Death” which premiered in September.  Created by Jonathan Ames, the show also stars Ted Danson and Zach Galifianakis.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *