How would you go about forming your own League of Evil Exes? Jason Schwartzman, who plays Gideon Graves, Ramona's evilest ex-boyfriend in Scott Pilgrim, revealed how this ex got it started. And why he's not such a bad guy really.
What was it like screening Scott Pilgrim in front of its biggest fans at Comic Con?
It was pretty nerve-wracking, to be honest with you. The most nerve-wracking part was the three seconds right before the movie started. Because that was the moment where it was too late now — no turning back. Obviously, we want all of America and the world to like this movie and think it's funny and interesting. But the fans at Comic Con who were there that night, those are people who have been following the progress of the comic and also following the progress of the comic becoming a film for a long time. And they have a lot invested in it. They believe in these characters. They know how the characters act and talk, they are really tied to them. It was a situation where we wanted those people to give it their stamp of approval. That was a big fear — PLEASE let the people who like these comics, like this movie.
Bryan Lee O'Malley mentioned to us that the end result of Gideon was influenced by the film. How much input did you have on the character?
That's so cool. I had talked to Edgar and Bryan about Gideon and I was trying to figure out how to play him. Because there isn't a lot about Gideon in the books, there's more about him in the scripts. I'd been thinking about it in December, January and February. And then the odd thing was I had to go shoot Bored To Death, a TV show that I do. So then I couldn't think about Gideon, I had to think about the character created by Jonathan Ames that I play. I wrap Bored To Death, and fly to Canada [for Scott Pilgrim] and they're already 3/4 of the way into this gigantic movie shoot. And I'm supposed to work the next week and it's like, "Oh my God, am I going to fuck this up?" They've all been so focused, they've all been living in this world. There isn't much to go on, what am I going to do? I was nervous.
So I talked to Bryan and he said two things that were great. One thing he said was, "I don't know who Gideon is yet, who do you think he is?" And I just kind of threw out ideas — not about who he was, just what I was about to try and do, I guess. And he said it all sounded about right, but to just remember that I wasn't playing a real person. Think about the whole movie as through Scott Pilgrim's eyes. So I wasn't playing Gideon Graves, I was playing Scott Pilgrim's version of Gideon Graves. It was really interesting, in a lot of ways maybe that's what so many movies are.
Edgar kept having to say, "Just remember, he's bad." I guess I had all these ideas, "Would Gideon do this or that?" And I guess some of those ideas were too nice.
Mae Whitman [who played the 4th evil ex Roxy Richter] mentioned that she didn't think all the exes were all that to begin with and she wondered if it was Gideon who insisted that they all join the League of Evil Exes? What are your thoughts on that?
I think that Gideon put together the League of Evil Exes, probably a little bit inebriated. He was jealous and angry and just sent out a mass text. Like:
Sorry for the mass text. Arranging a League of Evil Exes and I want you guys to be a part of it. No one should date Ramona from here on out. If they do we should kill them. Write Back.
What do you think the League of Evil Exes has meetings, what are they like?
Ummmm not really. But I do think that they are all always in contact.
What is the difference between the League of Evil Exes and the The Legion of Doom?
Ours is really just centered around girls and love and crushes.
Just about every detail in this movie shocked me. What was the one visual element you were most surprised by when you finally saw the movie as a whole?
Visually, one thing that I really loved were the low-tech effects that were done in camera that made it all seem so dreamy. You know when Michael Cera goes to the bathroom and he pees and the pee-bar gets depleted? Then he opens the bathroom door and there's a school hallway there? And then he walks down the school hallway and turns a corner and then he's at his front door and it's snowing and Ramona is there, and then he wakes up from the dream? That whole thing was done in camera. Michael Cera really walks from his band practice to the bathroom, and while he was fake peeing, they switched out the sets. Then he opened the door and there was this whole other set there. And I just think that's all kind of beautiful and dreamy. I like those types of things. When Michael jumps through a window, though that's not Michael jumping, that is someone jumping through the window.
What was it like watching yourself as the super villain, getting to play that final level villain?
It was exciting. It's kind of hard to be in a room and every time you get punched or hit people applaud. You're kind of like "wait, wait, wait it's fake I'm nice, I'm NICE!" That was harsh that hurts. But I loved playing a villain. It was really fun. It's one of those things [where] you have to be careful. It's like when someone says, "You can eat that, it's healthy," but then you eat a ton of it, and it's not healthy. Being a villain can be that way. Yes you can be wild and crazy, but you can go overboard. But I did like the credence to play around and have the rules of my character be made out of elastic or spandex.
Was this the first time you ever had to train to fight for a movie?
We had two months of training. Push-ups, sit-ups, medicine balls, jumping, gymnastics, flipping wire-training and also sword fighting. I've never done anything quite like it. It's really fun. I could see how you'd get addicted, and how those action stars do it. But I can't imagine how they do all the time because it's hard enough to act, and it's exhausting to act, and adding all these flips and kicks that can really be grueling. Someone like Tom Cruise or Will Smith, I have so much respect for those guys. Because they do it every movie. When I do it, I was thinking, "This is insane and hard, one month left." Whereas they just go from one to the next, to the next. It's a part of their lives. It was definitely a bonding experience... It's a great ice breaker, gymnastics — all people should do it.
You have so many great one-liners in this movie, I wonder what lines didn't make the cut that you hope will be on the DVD, or at least people will get a chance to see sometime?
The only one I really loved was when I get into my limousine outside the car, some of the takes instead of saying "Let's Go!" I would yell to my driver, "Marcello, Let's Go!" of "Marcello 14th!" I don't know if that will be in the DVD.
Why that name?
Marcello Mastroianni. And I think that was the driver's real name.