Fall TV Preview 2009

Jason Schwartzman Talks About His HBO Series, 'Bored to Death'

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Sunday, September 6, 2009

Some people follow the money -- actor Jason Schwartzman follows the writing. So when he found out one of his idols, author Jonathan Ames, was working with HBO to adapt his short story "Bored to Death" for a series, Schwartzman immediately contacted Ames. Is there any way you would ever consider me for "Bored to Death"? Schwartzman remembers writing in an e-mail. Because I want this more than anything.

Schwartzman's boldness paid off. He eventually landed the lead role on the show: Schwartzman plays an aimless 30-year-old writer who, in a moment of desperation to end his ennui, advertises his services on Craigslist as a private detective. The cast includes Ted Danson and Zach Galifianakis, along with a slew of guest stars including Olivia Thirlby and Parker Posey. We talked to Schwartzman, 29, a musician and indie actor known for roles in films such as "Rushmore" and "The Darjeeling Limited," by phone from Los Angeles.

-- Emily Yahr

What made you want to venture into TV? Jonathan Ames is my favorite writer who's living. I have many favorite writers, the majority of which are dead, or very old and reclusive. Jonathan Ames is alive and well, and lives in Brooklyn. . . . We met, and instantly, it was like I had known this man a long time.

How was it working with Zach Galifianakis? And Ted Danson, whom you end up punching in the face in the second episode?

You know, when you're assembling a cast, you want the people that will play the parts and act well, but you're also assembling, like, a chemistry set. It's not always the case where people just get along so well as we did on this. . . . We'd work all week long, and then end up hanging out together on the weekends. Ted, Zach, Jonathan and I would wander around Brooklyn together, riding bicycles and talking and laughing.

You perform the show's theme song. Will we see any big musical numbers?

Oh, no. . . . I wrote a song and submitted it and it was approved. I don't even think some people at HBO knew it was me when they were approving it. . . . But I'm so used to modern day theme songs, where's there's no singing anymore. Now, if you listen to certain theme songs, it's just like [makes a noise between a dog howling and ambulance siren].

You were recently named one of the 10 Most Stylish Men in America by GQ.

It's just funny, and I don't know if anyone who's reading this can relate to this, but anyone who didn't exactly get the girl they wanted to go out with or go to prom with them, if you had any type of girl troubles in high school and felt like an indoor kid, it's always a little bit funny to have your picture being taken. It always feels a little bit awkward . . . to have someone say you're stylish. You're like, "Really?" But I definitely was honored, and it was fun.

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