Jason Schwartzman is, well, cool. He’s managed to carve out his own little unique niche within the Hollywood landscape over the last few years and, if that’s not enough, he comes from a long line of talented industry royalty. Schwartzman is the son of Rocky actress Talia Shire and nephew of Godfather director Francis Ford Coppola. He also served as drummer for nine years in the rock band Phantom Planet before departing to pursue acting full time. On Oct. 1, Schwartzman brings his "greasy nerd hero" persona back to theaters once again in the David O. Russell ensemble comedy I Heart Huckabees.
In the film, which costars Dustin Hoffman, Lily Tomlin, Jude Law and Naomi Watts, Schwartzman plays Albert Markovski, a run-of-the-mill worker bee with a handful of worries. After experiencing a strand of seemingly meaningless coincidences, Albert hires "existential detectives" Bernard and Vivian Jaffe (Hoffman and Tomlin, respectively) to look into his life and relationships and deliver an answer to his woes. The detectives also investigate the superficially perfect life of Albert’s quasi-enemy Brad (Law), a corporate ladder climber within super-retailer Huckabees who maintains a quirky relationship with his girlfriend — the "voice" of Huckabees — Dawn (Watts).
"I feel like, if I could just figure out why they’ve (the coincidences) all happened, then maybe I could understand a little bit more about the universe," said Schwartzman recently, in an interview for Premiere magazine.
While Schwartzman’s character in Huckabees may be a bit confused about the present and future, the real-life Schwartzman — who got the part in his debut film, 1998’s Rushmore, after cousin and writer-director Sofia Coppola introduced him to the film’s casting director — is doing a tidy job of making a name for himself in Hollywood. At the tender age of 24, Schwartzman already has a number of critically acclaimed films under his belt which, aside from Rushmore (in which he costarred alongside veteran comic Bill Murray), include CQ, Slackers and Spun.
Schwartzman has also transcended into the music industry, co-founding rock band Phantom Planet when he was just 14 years old. He left the band in 2003, though, to concentrate on his white-hot acting career. Yet he’s still receiving Phantom Planet-related praise, as the band’s anthem song, "California," currently adorns the opening credits of Fox’s ultra-popular television show "The O.C."
If these credits don’t already speak volumes, then here are a couple more interesting facts about the dark-haired, 5-foot-6-inch actor-musician. Actors Nicolas Cage and Roman Coppola also count as his cousins and, over the last few years, many critics and independent film lovers alike have likened Schwartzman to a young Dustin Hoffman, circa the latter’s performance in 1967’s The Graduate.
"In one sentence, I’d describe myself as indescribable, but I wouldn’t end it with a period. I’d end it with three dots," said Schwartzman in a 2003 interview with pop culture magazine Entertainment Weekly.
Schwartzman is right; he is somewhat indescribable. He continues to choose roles in seemingly quirky, offbeat films, always managing to surprise his fans — and even critics — with his selections. He started his acting career playing the extracurricular king of his high school (who unassumingly finds himself embroiled in a love triangle) in Rushmore and, since then, has portrayed an out-of-control speed addict in Spun and a school geek who tries to bust his scheming schoolmates in Slackers.
His eclectic resume is continuing to grow, as well. Schwartzman already has films Shopgirl (a romantic comedy) and Everything is Illuminated (an adventure-drama) in the can. After that, he’ll be finishing filming on director Nora Ephron’s filmic update of the 1960s’ television show "Bewitched," which costars Nicole Kidman and Will Ferrell as iconic couple Samantha and Darrin Stephens.
And after that, it’s on to film his role as Louis XVI, opposite Kirsten Dunst, in the recently announced drama Marie Antoinette. In a coincidence that would probably be lost on his character in Huckabees, Schwartzman’s cousin Sofia Coppola will direct him in the film. From Rushmore to Marie Antoinette, then, it looks as though things have nearly come full circle for one of Hollywood’s most promising young actors.
I Heart Huckabees releases in theaters Oct. 1.