Jason Schwartzman Talks Sexual Curiosity, Adult Friendships, and His New Film ‘The Overnight’

Whether he’s inhabiting the world of Wes Anderson or starring in the best acerbic indie comedies of the year, you know you’re in for a treat when Jason Schwartzman is on the screen. As one of the busiest men in Hollywood, the actor and producer is at his best when getting to showcase both his comedic chops and his dramatic vulnerability—and with Patrick Brice’s The Overnight, Schwartzman does just that that. Starring opposite Adam Scott, Taylor Schilling, and Judith Godrèche, he gives one of his best performances as Kurt, a confident and sexually curious jack of all trades.

What starts as a friendly dinner to welcome new neighbors swiftly turns into a “naked (both literally and emotionally) exploration of their relationships—both with their partners and with themselves. Add in some wine, some weed, some skinny-dipping, plus a few bottles of champagne and you’ve got one of the most entertaining comedies to emerge on the independent film circuit in a long time, and one that’s as intelligent and cinematically minded as it is scintillating.”

After premiering at Sundance in January, The Overnight rolls into theaters today. We hopped on the phone with Schwartzman to chat more about the film, and also gained a few helpful tips for maintaining a successful love life along the way.

In previous interviews we’ve talked about how the experience of making a movie—the setting, the people involved—is what first attracts you to the projects you work on. For this film, what was it that made you want to be a part of it?

The shoot was about twelve nights. That was interesting to me because I’ve never had to work in that way before, just shooting all night and over such a short period of time; that was immediately exciting to me. Part of why I enjoy this line of work is the adventure of it and the experience, so when I read the script, it was pretty hard not to love the movie immediately. It had such an interesting balance, where you have your bigger comedic-type moments, which a lot of people will laugh at, and then all of a sudden you have a moment that’s a bit more quiet and subdued happening between characters who are being very honest and forthcoming with each other. When I was reading it, I kept thinking, “Oh, I know what’s going to happen,” and it never would happen, or I would have a vague idea of what was going to happen, and it did happen. But it would always get there in a different way, and that was exciting to read. I felt really lucky that I was offered the part in the movie.

There’s a really open-minded and even-handed approach to the sexuality in the movie, which mainly comes from your character. There aren’t labels placed on anyone and that sense of natural curiosity was refreshing to see. Was that something that intrigued you about the role?

Yeah, absolutely. In any relationship, you’re evolving as a couple, but you have to be careful that you’re not only moving as a couple, that you’re also having individual experience. There’s always a challenge in a relationship when one person questions something or is growing in some way or wants to make a move or direction. It’s really a call to arms to the other person in the relationship to meet them there or be open to meeting them there—or the person has the choice to walk away from it. Sexually, it depends—they’re two different couples, but both are very much out of alignment in their relationships, and it’s only going to get worse. These types of things do happen, where all the flaws and all the questions and all the things very quickly come to the surface and have to be investigated. But that sexual curiosity and being accepting about that, as well as being loving and nurturing, that is very much interesting to me for sure.

THE OVERNIGHT

How did you feel when you read the script and learned you’d have to be naked? Did you have less reservations knowing you’d be wearing a prosthetic?

I don’t think it said in the script that it was a prosthetic, but it felt very clear as I was reading it that it was going to be prosthetic because less so about being naked than about Curt’s nudity in relation to Adam’s. I was like, “Okay, we’re going to have to have a very endowed penis and a very not endowed penis,” so I assumed prosthetic most likely. Honestly, I’m a modest guy. If the movie took place the exact same way except we were in bathing suits the whole time, it would have been way more daunting to me because I’ve got love handles and I’m not jacked. There was something about being naked that jumped over that type of nervousness. When I took off my clothes and I was just naked with the prosthetics, I felt very comfortable and free. It was so extreme that I felt more comfortable than I would have if I was wearing a bathing suit. I wasn’t exactly sure about how we were going to put these prosthetics on, so I was more nervous about applying it and how to wear it than having it on.

Did you get to pick out your prosthetic or was that something Patrick chose?

No, it was chosen. Adam, Patrick and Naomi can talk about the selection of penises. There were definitely options and there was a smaller one for Adam. I think if it gets too small or too big, it gets too jokey.

Are there any dinner parties you’ve attended that veered off in a direction you didn’t expect or could be used as something to draw from for this?

I’ve never been to anything like that before. Before I read the script, one of my best friends from LA moved away with his wife and kid, and I thought to myself, “So now what do they do?” This is a guy who I would hang out with all the time. Now, I was thinking, “How does he make new friends?” So many of my friends in my 20s were present for significant moments in my life. But when you move somewhere and meet someone, how does someone become a friend? When I read the script, I felt for the characters—how do you have new experiences? A lot of that stuff is very relevant. Also just the play dates with kids; I have two kids and my older daughter is just starting to have play dates, so I’m starting to taste a bit of that. It’s sharing time with people you wouldn’t necessarily choose to hang out with.

Was there any particular moment or scene that was most fun to shoot?

The whole thing was strange, but in a great way. It was so fast so there wasn’t really time for anything too crazy. Taking off my clothes for the first time and falling into the pool, it was so fun. I remember Patrick saying, “I want you to do a back flip thing,” and it was so fun to do that. Of course, leading up to the finale of the movie we were sort of on a one-way train. There was a lot of giggling and we were all laughing. There was a release of tension, expectation and excitement. It was fun, so maybe that type of thing. It was very relaxed. It was a good group of people. Everyone really did get along. I don’t know how that happened but we’ve been talking about the movie in interviews and Taylor and I kept saying “there was just a good thing happening.” I don’t know how that happened. If you put us all in a movie again, if that would happen – I don’t know. Sometimes people just get in the groove of each other.

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