It’s another week and time for another epic Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World interview.
This time, I sat down with Jason Schwartzman who stars as Gideon Graves and Anna Kendrick, who plays Scott’s sister Stacey Pilgrim in the film. I should probably go on record by saying I am a huge Jason Schwartzman fan and have been since I first saw Rushmore on laserdisc. It was great chatting with these two and a lot of fun as well, as you can probably tell in the interview.
Also, if you haven’t seen this film… what are you waiting for? We need to support this film in any way shape and form we can, and for the life of me I can not figure out why this film, with its stellar reviews and write-ups, isn’t making the money it should. So read up and go see the film again.
So Jason you worked on the score for Funny People… did you have any influence at all on the score for Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World?
Jason: Um… no… (laughs).
What did you think of it then?
Jason: I loved it, so much. I really think a big part of the film is the music. Not only in the background in fight scenes, but you know, [when the] bands in the film [are] playing songs. We were pretty lucky to have Beck, Broken Social Scene, and Metric do songs for the film.
Nigel Godrich even composed an original piece of music and to me it was just incredible. I probably did Funny People because no one else was available, (laughs) but for this one everyone was available.
So they all got to do it as they should and it was just amazing, especially the sound design too is amazing in the film as well.
Did you have any favorite songs from the film?
Jason: Yeah, I love every Beck song and the Ramona Song.
Anna: Black Sheep is my favorite song
Jason: That is a really great song too.
Anna: I’ve heard all of the songs a lot, (Laughs) and that’s only one I really like is Black Sheep.
Jason: That is such a great song. Ramona is such a great song as well, it has great chord changes and I like Summer Time (Jason breaks into the chorus to Summer Time)
More after the Jump!
Jason You’re also a pretty well known and accomplished musician/ composer with your band Phantom Planet and your various composing credits in film and television, was the role of Gideon Graves based at all on any experiences you had in the music industry?
Anna: That’s a good question.
Jason: No… I (hesitates)
Dan: You can be honest…
Jason: I am trying to be (Laughs) I never worked with anyone as young or as cocky as that. Nor was I in any way copying anyone or doing an imitation of anybody.
The only thing that my musical experience has in common with the film is, I was in A LOT of battle of the bands. Like when I see how excited Mark Webber’s character is to have a show, I can relate to that excitement. Because, I remember when I was young we always wanted to play clubs and especially The Whiskey A Go Go in LA; and when they would call you back for a show it was so exciting.
My mother just changed her entire phone answering system, because the previous one died. Which shows you how long she has had it, I had saved the message from the The Whiskey A Go Go in 1994, when they called my house and said that they had heard our demo tape and we could play there May the 5th. I still have that message, [and] we lost every battle of the bands we played, so I can totally relate to that.
Anna: Do you remember the bands that beat you?
Jason: Yeah. (laughs)
Anna: Are they people we would know?
Jason: Nope, they peaked in high school… actually one band that beat us was really good and they became big Ozomatli, they would never remember they played with us, but they kicked the shit out of us.
Anna for being such a young actress you have still had a pretty substantial career and seem to balance your workload evenly with more mainstream friendly films and independent ones as well, what was you most memorable role so far?
Anna: This really has to be one of the most memorable films, like the finished product. It was also pretty memorable to shoot. It has to be the most technical work I have ever done, where I am in a split screen with Michael Cera who already recorded his part so I am just talking to a recording, trying to fit my lines in the spaces Michael has left; and I am supposed to be mirroring his body language turning my body on a certain word, my head on the next and shoot my eyes over on the word after that.
I was really frustrating because it was adding choreography to dialog. Every outtake of that scene probably involves me throwing something. But the one time I got it all right I was like, “That’s going in the movie because we gotta do this.” So every time before a take I would cross my fingers. (Laughs)
Is it fair to say you hated Michael Cera afterwards?
Anna: Yeah, because he kept interrupting me. I felt like after a day of filming against his recording I was mad at him, because he kept interrupting me during the scene. Just quit stepping on my lines man.
Anna how does it feel to be the most normal character in the film?
You know that happened to me in Twilight too. (Laughs)
I don’t know what that’s about. In this film I realized, this may sound really lazy but I am basically playing myself in the film. I have this exact relationship with my older brother, and I usually can talk about how it was tough to relate to the characters that I play and in this film I really didn’t do anything and just played myself.
Now being you were in Twilight I have to ask this, Team Ramona or Team Knives?
Anna: (Laughs) Personally I am Team Knives, but that’s just my opinion.
Anna you have now worked with two great sex symbols in George Clooney and Michael Cera, I am wondering what George could learn from Michael and vice versa.
Anna: Well Michael actually worked with George when he was like nine, he was in Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, and I was on set.
Jason: Michael was nine when that movie was made!?!
Anna: I know isn’t that something fucking crazy. But George didn’t realize until very recently, that the kid who played the young Sam Rockwell in Confessions of a Dangerous Mind was THE Michael Cera, and so he is a big fan of Michael Cera. He felt cool for discovering him I guess.
Jason: What could we learn from George?
Anna: What couldn’t we learn from George. (Laughs)
Jason, what’s it like to play the FINAL BOSS?
Jason: It was pretty fun for me. Sure, I mean who has played a villain that you have talked to who hasn’t said this, but it’s REALLY fun to play a villain. So many of my favorite characters are villains, or at least are mysterious in a lot of films I personally loved.
The opportunity to learn how to do fight sequences was always something I really wanted to do, and to also be able to do the wire fighting was really a remarkable experience. To be hoisted up in the air is terrifying, because you fly up in the air a couple of times and you look over and you see how they are actually doing it; it’s just some guy jumping off a ladder with a rope. His body weight is all that is propelling you and he’s got Nyquil in his back pocket and your saying to yourself, “is this really safe?”
It was really great for me.
So you did your own stunts?
Yeah, and the only time we didn’t do our own stunts is when we couldn’t do our own stunts. But if we could do our own stunts, we would do them. Edgar had it all planned out and it was very safe and it took almost three weeks to shoot that final action sequence.
In fact the way it was scheduled, I got married in the middle of the fight sequence. We started the fight scene, I got three days off to go home to LA and get married and I flew back.
Anna: Are you serious?
Anna: And Brady didn’t divorce you.
Jason: No, no she didn’t.
Anna: That’s a good woman.
Jason: We spent our honeymoon on the set of Scott Pilgrim while I was finishing up the fight scene. You can see a difference in my fighting style (Laughs) you can see a little more aggression and power.
But it was a joy for me to be the final boss, to take on Michael Cera and be the opposite of him.
You think the whole thing could have been avoided if Scott just entered the Konami code?
Jason: Yes! Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A, Select, Start!
Could you talk a bit about what it was like to work with Edgar as a director, what he brought to the table and how it was different than other directors you’ve worked with?
Anna: I got this image of Edgar when I was first cast, I was asking him about other people who were going to be potentially cast and he was very excited about the idea of putting Chris Evans in the film. The reason being he just really liked the idea of getting young Hollywood actors and pitting them against each other in battle.
So I got this image of him as the evil puppet master, like choosing all these young actors to and saying “Fight to the death to amuse me!”(laughs)
Dan: Kind of like Battle Royale.
Jason: My feeling was, I was split 50/50 I have this dream wish list of people I want to work with and on the other hand I flagellate myself for having a dream wish list, like how could I even think they would work with me. It’s like a weird inner battle with my Nega-Jason.
He has always been on it, but I never thought it would be possible, because up until then he has only worked with the English in England. I didn’t know how this would ever work out, I was an American actor, so I was stunned it was such an exciting thing for me personally as a fan of his work.
To work with him was very interesting, because he was so enthusiastic about the film, he is more enthusiastic than anyone else on the film added up. Some directors have a director’s chair and he doesn’t have one, he just stands the whole time watching. He just has so much momentum and enthusiasm for the film.
Two quick notes that I love about him: though it felt sometimes when you look at the space in the chaos theater where we are doing our fight; it looks like a very big space and there were a lot of people walking around, he was always right there for the actors. If you had a question you could just say Edgar and he would show up and say “Yeah!” it never felt big he kept it so you felt that he always could help you and had his attention on you.
While the thing was also so planned out and choreographed, I have never made a film so – like when you make most films you do a complete take of a scene from every different angle
Jason: But in this one he already knew what he wanted.
Anna: Like it was pre-edited.
Jason: Yeah. So he would be like “We are going to do this scene, so all you have to do is turn, say this one line and cut.” Making a film is like hyper-focusing than doing a play because you’re just doing one scene in an entire day. This was mega super hyper-focused, because your just doing a shot and getting what you need. That is an unusual experience unlike any.
Anna: There is definitely, you play that game with yourself in the car going, “Oh I hope they use the medium of that line and the close of that line, because I wasn’t nailing it on the other angles.” This was much more, you better get it right; which was cool and challenging. It definitely kept you on your toes, cause it was like this is the shot for this line and that’s it.
What’s it like seeing all those tiny shots cut together as the finished product?
Anna: I cant believe it took so long. (laughs) Because it was only like 20 seconds of film and it was a day of work.
Anna so you’re like eternally 18 in most of your films..
Anna: I know what’s that all about? I actually got down graded I was actually 19 in this film and until the very, very last cut I saw. For the entire editing process I was 19 and all of a sudden I was 18 again. I don’t know why.
..are you concerned you will end up like those 90210 kids 30 and still playing 18?
Anna: I guess I will have to stop playing 18 when people stop buying me as an 18 year old. I don’t buy me as 18, but people don’t seem to mind.
How much of your characters was on the page, either the comic or the script and how much did you bring yourselves?
Anna: Brian’s artwork is so expressive, it’s sort of magical. Because the drawings don’t look overly detailed but they are so expressive; there is a panel of the comic that is Scott and Stacy on the phone and you get their ENTIRE relationship from that one side-by-side panel. You see him being kind of embarrassed and her being disapproving and Edgar wanted to capture those two panels through the film, especially in establishing their relationship.
The artwork was an incredible reference to have.
Jason: I know. I wish I had in the future if I ever work again, that film be a comic first, because it really is helpful to visually see so much of the stuff just laid out like that.
Honestly I am not kidding, it was so helpful as an actor.
In terms for me, it was all there in the script.
But this was before the sixth book was out?
Yeah so there for me as a character wasn’t a lot to go in the comics, there was some. But there was the outline of Gideon in the book because people are talking about him all the time. So you don’t necessarily need to be in anything, but if people are talking about you it does define you in some way.
I knew the space I had to fill and one thing that was great was Brian, and besides the script that Edgar and Mike worked so hard on taking all those books and putting them into one film but Brian was so awesome. I would ask, “So who is this Gideon what do you make of him?” and he said “I am still kind of figuring it out right now, because I am still finishing up the sixth book. Can you help me? Who do you think he is?”