Photography by Mark Mann.
“My attitude was, just go headfirst with this penis,” says Jason Schwartzman of his gasp-inducing scene in The Overnight. Said penis, and the project, were the toast of this year’s Sundance Film Festival — the former was a prosthetic; the latter is one of the funniest, sweetest movies of the year. Its setup: Two Los Angeles couples meet in a park while tending to their children. They arrange a sleepover, which turns into something else after the kids go to bed: a pot — and booze-fueled romp in a backyard pool that Schwartzman’s character, Kurt, hopes will culminate in a bisexual tryst involving Adam Scott (Parks and Recreation).
Schwartzman got the script with an offer already attached. Charmed by its intelligence and whimsy (two cinematic qualities for which the Wes Anderson mainstay has a certain proclivity), he said yes before even reading its second half. “That’s a very rare thing,” he says. “I don’t typically wake up to being offered a movie. And most times when I’ve been in a movie, it’s a long process of trying to get it going — it’s a fight.”
Not the case for The Overnight. The film was shot in a quick-and-dirty 12 nights, and its stars (including Scott, who co-produced; Orange Is the New Black’s Taylor Schilling as his wife; and French actress Judith Godrèche) developed an immediate intimacy, not least of all because they spent a lot of time shooting it wet and naked. “I’ve definitely worked in situations where it’s not a good feeling, and it’s tough because it’s hard enough to make a movie even if everyone’s getting along,” says Schwartzman. “But here everyone had a really good sense of humor. It’s important to laugh a lot when you’re working in such weird ways.”
Like in the film’s conversation piece, a skinny-dipping scene in which Schwartzman drops trou to reveal his massive member, to which Scott reacts with horror because he, himself, is under-endowed. Before shooting it, Schwartzman would sit in a makeup chair and have the foam prosthetic, which he calls a “Temper-Penis,” attached to his entire groin. “I feel like if I was in a Speedo and they were putting makeup on my knees, I’d probably be way more embarrassed than lying there naked while they’re putting a penis over my penis,” Schwartzman says. “I was actually thinking more about my love handles. I put that penis on and walked around and said, ‘If anybody wants to touch it, you can touch it. Even though it looks like a penis, let’s treat it like it’s my shoes, because it’s not my penis.’ There was something liberating about it.”
Courtesy of August Images. Adam Scott, Taylor Schilling, and Jason Schwartzman in The Overnight.
But Schwartzman was mostly drawn to The Overnight’s full-frontal tackling of uncomfortable truths, specifically the boredom sometimes associated with long-term relationships, and how adults make friends through the forced social interaction of school settings. (The film’s executive producer, Mark Duplass, has explored this sort of tension before in films like Cyrus and the new HBO series, Togetherness.)
“When you’re living with someone and get very comfortable, you hope that you’re moving together through life,” says Schwartzman. “But obviously, you can get out of joint.” He continues, “I have my own life, but what are other people up to? I feel like I just moved to L.A. in a lot of ways, even though I’m from here. I don’t really know how to make friends.”
He has some, though, and recently experienced his own life-changing all-nighter with one of them. After an especially gluttonous dinner one night, he and a pal had the idea to walk off calories in the Hollywood Hills. “We decided, ‘Let’s make an insane rule,’ which was, Never turn left and never turn back,” Schwartzman says. “We saw all kinds of wild things. I’m pretty sure I saw someone breaking into a house dressed as a ninja. I saw someone who looked like Doc from Back to the Future soldering a car. We had bricks in our hands because we saw coyotes. We walked into that canyon at midnight, and as the sun was coming up at 6:45 in the morning, we came out on a road 40 feet from where we had gone in. It was the craziest thing.” Until, perhaps, that Temper-Penis.