This Friday, theatrical audiences can take “A Glimpse Inside The Mind Of Charlies Swan III.” Starring Charlie Sheen as the titular self-destructive graphic designer, the film is a comedic fantasia about his various alcohol-fueled fantasies and dreams, but it also finds time to showcase best friend and standup comedian Kirby, as played by an acerbic Jason Schwartzman. And while Schwartzman is now a veteran of several movie sets, it’s hard to beat the amount of fun he had building Kirby for Roman Coppola’s second film.
“We shot the movie at Roman’s house, and a lot of the costumes were Roman’s personal clothes, or you got them on eBay,” the actor told us in a recent interview. “It’s an elaborate movie, but the making of it was very homemade in that way. Part of the fun of that was that it was a super ambitious shoot. I think the whole thing was 22 days, and there’s a lot to do on a very small budget.” Kirby ends up being a participant in Swan’s diverse, colorful imagination, which yielded a series of wildly different adventures for the actor to engage with. “It was fun because there were so many weird circumstances, you’re sitting in a room, and it’s like, smash Jason in the face with a pie! Now get him in a cowboy outfit! There’s just so much to get done, and because of the kaleidoscopic nature of the movie, the days become kaleidoscopic themselves," he said. "You’re shooting one day, in the morning you’re in a baseball outfit, in the afternoon you’re riding a horse.”
Schwartzman describes Kirby as a “...Renaissance man. To me, he’s like a star in general. He put out a comedy record, he’s done music, maybe he’s in a movie.” That also involved developing a relationship with Sheen’s Swan that would suggest a friendship that’s stood the test of time. “Roman wrote the script in a way where it’s two people who are very good friends,” he says. “And the way you get that feeling is the fact that they don’t really listen to each other, and yet they’re having a conversation. So it was this weird acting thing, where we’re not gonna listen to [each other]. So it would be weird talking to Charlie between takes, and they would say action, and we’re not looking at each other in our own heads.”
Schwartzman ended up finding inspiration in an unusual place. “The key to him, to me, was that there was this documentary that Martin Scorsese made called ‘American Boy,’” Schwartzman says. “I love the movie, and Martin Scorsese is so active, and a lot of times he’s doing this [Schwartzman grabs at the air] with his hands while he’s talking. So there was a feeling like that to me, my fingers would feel tight. I think Kirby isn’t laid back. In the movie, Charlie’s a California graphic designer, but I feel like Kirby’s from New York, there’s a bit more running through his veins than sunshine. He’s got some fire.”
While Schwartzman has been in the business for years, he finds it impossible to avoid the thrill of costarring with Charlie Sheen and Bill Murray. “I was born in 1980, so Bill and Charlie were huge to me,” Schwarztman says, geeking out. “I’m sitting there talking to Charlie and he’s telling me about this movie and that, and, oh, on ‘Young Guns’ we did this. And I’m just a fan of movies, so I’m sitting there keeping my mouth shut, going, 'I can’t believe I’m listening to this.' The scene with Bill and Charlie in the limo, your brain is in the scene, and part of you can’t help but be hovering above it, thinking, 'Why are you in a car with these people?' ”
Of course, Sheen is no stranger to controversy, so starring in this film so soon after a highly-publicized “meltdown” was going to generate interest and curiosity. But apparently, similar to what’s been said, Sheen was a consummate professional on set. “He’s a super incredible great actor,” Schwartzman raves. “He has so many other things on his Wikipedia page [that distract], but he’s a gifted man. His voice is incredible, his being is incredible, he’s just a cool dude. And he worked so hard on this part. He learned to sing in Portuguese, he learned all those dance steps. It really came through, especially for Roman, who had so much on the line. The movie was structured on, nothing can go wrong. And everyone showed up, including Charlie.”
“A Glimpse Inside The Mind Of Charles Swan III” opens in theaters this Friday and is available now on VOD.