Thought Jason Schwartzman Was Earnest Before? Wait Til 'Saving Mr. Banks'

Jason Schwartzman has played a lot of earnest characters. Max Fischer from "Rushmore" (actually, quite a few of his Wes Anderson parts would qualify) or Jonathan Ames in "Bored to Death" come to mind. But there's always a glimpse of irony in these performances, at least in that we hear what the character is saying but understand that just maybe there's a little more going on there. That is not the case in "Saving Mr. Banks." It is, however, where Schwartzman gives his most earnest and straightforwardly sweet performance to date.

In "Saving Mr. Banks," Schwartzman plays legendary songwriter Richard Sherman. Sherman himself might have rubbed off on Schwartzman -- a man the actor calls the most optimistic person that he's ever met. It certainly would take a lot of optimism to co-compose songs (along with his brother, Robert Sherman, portrayed by B.J. Novak) like "Let's Go Fly a Kite" and "A Spoon Full of Sugar" in the face of P.L. Travers' demands (played by Emma Thompson), who didn't want any music at all in the big-screen version of her beloved creation, "Mary Poppins."

If you went on a musical tour with B.J. Novak, I'd buy a ticket.
You would?

Oh, man, that's great. He's great. I had never met him before. You know, I was a fan of his and he's such a talented writer as well.

Did you guys audition together? In that they paired you as brothers?
I think maybe I was first. Maybe I did come first, I think.

OK, so it would have been a completely different duo if The Rock had been cast first.
He said "no." He said "no."

He said no?
[Laughs] Yeah.

I'd watch that version.
Yeah, that was a different thing. "The Rock as ... Bob Sherman!"

I'm glad Dick Sherman is still around. I feel it's a nice tribute to his work...
Have you ever met him?

I hope that you do because he really is an incredible man. First of all, I can honestly say he's the most optimistic person I've ever met in my life -- but truly optimistic. You know what I mean? He's not blindly optimistic -- he's not naive. He believes in these songs; he loves Walt Disney; he loves the time that he spent there; and he loves to entertain people.

It's interesting that you refer to him as optimistic. You've played earnest characters before, but there's usually a hint of irony.
That's a lack of the craft.

Oh, c'mon...
I will tell you there's been times in my life... I was out with a friend the other night and I said, "I can't wait!" And he said, "Well, that seemed like the most full-of-shit thing you could say." And I was like, "No, I mean it!" And he's like, "Really?" And I don't know why -- I wonder why he thought that I didn't mean that? But, I'm sorry, keep going.

Well, that's an interesting story because there does seem to be a hint of irony in your roles where I do think, "Hm, what does he really mean by that?" But, I didn't feel that way in this movie.
Richard said to me, "In the room, I was trying to make it work. I was trying to find a way to keep everybody in harmony." You would see somebody who is smiling and being encouraging, whereas his brother was not.

It came across as good cop, bad cop almost.
Yeah! And for me, my attitude in all of those scenes was like, "make this work" ... and my attitude going in was, "There's no time to get down. You have to keep going forward."

There are rumors that you're going to be in "Jurassic World."
Ah. I really can't say. [In an exaggerated voice] Who's to say?

OK, how about this: Did you like" Jurassic Park" when it came out?
Absolutely! I saw it in seventh grade after my last final on Friday. I went and saw it in the theaters.

It was great when they re-released it earlier this year. Just to see it on a big screen.
Oh, yeah, I bet. Now that I'm done with finals, I can't go.

I'm looking forward to Wes Anderson's "The Grand Budapest Hotel."
Oh, yeah, it's great.

I was happy to see Edward Norton has kind of joined the recurring Wes Anderson actors now that he was in "Moonrise Kingdom" and is going to be in this, too.
Yeah, I am, too. I think he's great. I think he's so great. I love him. He's so funny, too. As clearly demonstrated the other night on "Saturday Night Live." I thought he was great.

I agree. What do you think Wes Anderson can bring out in actors like Edward Norton or maybe Bruce Willis that other directors can't?
I don't know. I can't really say. I don't think it's exactly what he brings out, but I just think the things he creates and makes up. It's probably just the right dose. You know, the dose in his cocktails are unique, you know what I mean? Like this percent to that percent to that percent, to me it's the best and I think that that it's fun to do. It's fun to be in those and it's an honor to me. Each time, it's an honor.

Best of luck with this...
This has been the time of my life. Also it's just been fun to learn all of these songs.

Well, if you go on tour, I'm in...
OK, done!

Mike Ryan is senior writer for Huffington Post Entertainment. You can contact him directly on Twitter.

Before You Go

AFI FEST 2013 Presented By Audi Premiere Of Walt Disney Pictures' "Saving Mr. Banks" - Red Carpet

"Saving Mr. Banks"

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