Stars’ personal experiences, trip to India shape film

Jason Schwartzman spoke with staff writer Alex Zobel about his recent travels to India where he co-wrote and starred in the new film “The Darjeeling Limited” with director Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola. The short film “Hotel Chevalier,” which starred Natalie Portman and Schwartzman acts as a prologue to the feature film and will precede the movie starting today when it will be released in Fort Worth theaters.What was the writing process like for you?

Wes (Anderson) said, like when he first brought it up, all he really had formulated was the basic concept, which was three brothers on a train in India. He goes: “I want it to be a spiritual journey for us and I want us to write. And I want it to be the most honest script the three of us can write based on all things that have happened to the three of us.”

So you used a lot of your own personal experiences to help write the script?

Yeah. Always. It would be just talking for hours about your life. It was kind of like panning for gold. If you’re persistent enough, something usable can be found that can help to push you forward. And then we went to India, and we wrote a lot of the movie there. We lived there, and we tried to experience what the characters were going through.

What was it like acting in a movie where you were more personally involved in the process? Was it easier to act?

I had just been so focused on the writing that when I came to look at the script for a more acting point of view, I felt more nervous and afraid than I’ve ever felt on a movie. As I began to really think about it and closed my eyes, I realized all those things we’d taken out of the script, we didn’t take them out of the character. They’re still real. So the writing helped the acting big time.

What was the reasoning behind including the short film before the film?

The short film was never part of the movie – ever. It was written separately and was shot a year before the movie, so it was always intended to be a short film and always intended to be a companion piece to the feature film, but never meant to be part of it. But you kind of have to see the short before to make a lot of things make sense.

What do you hope people will take away from this movie?

First of all, I hope it makes people want to go to India, but most of all, I just hope that people walk away from it inspired to reunite with family.