Anderson and Schwartzman hit the road
They've been spending a lot of time on a bus recently, and they
look it. Haggard and a little stressed out, Wes Anderson, co-writer and
director of Rushmore, and Jason Schwartzman, his 19-year-old star, have been
hitting the road for the past week promoting their movie. It's a nice bus, to
be sure, painted yellow to resemble the school variety, but the only connection
to the movie is the name painted on the side, and the two have the air of those
who recognize that what might have seemed a good idea in theory has not proved
to be so a thousand miles or so later.
"No, there's no school bus in the movie," acknowledges Anderson.
"He doesn't fly," explains Schwartzman.
So much for the significance of the bus. The film's title, however, is another
thing. Bottle Rocket, Anderson's first feature, was a low-budget shaggy-dog
story, fanciful ephemera as befits the namesake pyrotechnic. Rushmore, the name
of the private school in which Schwartzman's character Max Fischer seeks love,
success, and a passing grade, suggests something more monolithic, enduring --
Anderson agrees. "When we [he and co-writer Owen Wilson, who collaborated on
Bottle Rocket] were trying to think of the title, we wanted something really
American. It was so much the iconic American thing. That's why eventually we
came up with Rushmore. The character has that pioneer spirit -- ingenuity and
And loss and disappointment and depression. Maybe it's all the driving, but
the mood today seems dark.
"In my opinion," agrees Anderson, "Schwartzy seems a little fruity right
"Fruity! Why am I fruity?"
"I don't know. You seem like you're getting down or something."
"No, I'm just looking at the floor."
Schwartzman's objections notwithstanding, and despite the film's genuine
hilarity and high spirits, Rushmore does convey a pervasive wistfulness.
"In an early version, Max tried to commit suicide," Anderson agrees. "There's
definitely sadness through the whole thing. It got sadder the more we worked on
Schwartzman responded to that sadness. Like Max, he's lost a parent -- his
father (his mother is the actress Talia Shire) died when he was 14.
"Four years ago. It's tough, and that was one thing that I could really relate
to with Max. When you lose a parent at an early age, it can change the way you
do things, and the reasons why. Max lost his mom when he was real young. I
think that's why he's so motivated. Maybe he's trying to re-create some sort of
Meanwhile, for this temporary family on tour, the high points have included
Jason's stint on Letterman a week ago Friday and, in keeping with the funereal
theme, a visit to the Vietnam War Memorial.
"We tried to look up the name Max Fischer," says Anderson. "But there was no
Max Fischer who died in Vietnam. There was an Edward S. Fischer, so we found
him. Then we ran up to the Lincoln Memorial and saw Lincoln."
"Had our moment," says Schwartzman.
"We had our private moment. And here was a moment earlier today when we were
walking down the street in the snow. We were so exhausted, tired, and confused,
and we had a moment of looking at each other thinking, `What are we doing?
Where are we?' We had spent the entire night on the road, and we didn't
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