LOS ANGELES, Oct. 21 (UPI) -- Jason Schwartzman says he could relate to his character's identity crisis in Listen Up Philip.
The 34-year-old actor portrays the title character in the Alex Ross Perry film -- a self-righteous, self-obsessed writer who achieved success with his debut novel. The character's life and relationship with girlfriend Ashley (Elisabeth Moss) begins to fall apart as he awaits the publication of his second book, and he chooses to retreat to literary idol Ike's (Jonathan Pryce) summer home.
"[Perry and I] messed around with versions of Philip where maybe there's a moment that makes him sympathetic or less abrasive," Schwartzman related to Salon. "We were open to trying different things, but when we did, they worked against the goal of the movie, and against Philip. Instead of making him more likable, it made him more detestable and he ended up becoming passive-aggressive."
"I think he does have redeeming qualities," he qualified. "Clearly he's trying, but I think that he's just in a really bad place in his life. He's on a bit of a downward spiral and not treating people well. He's mishandling the success from his first book and is unapologetic about it."
Schwartzman is no stranger to misfit roles, having portrayed eccentric high schooler Max Fischer in Rushmore and lonely writer Jack Whitman in The Darjeeling Limited. The actor acknowledged Philip's sense of solitude and alienation, and told the website he has experienced similar identity crises of his own.
"Somewhat all the time," he admitted. "I don't mean it in a bad way, like I'm walking down the street unsure of who I am ... Your normal way of life is at a certain pace, and working on a movie so different. With the amount of talking and repetition, after that there's always a moment of, 'Huh. What now? What becomes of this?'"
Listen Up Philip premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival in January, and opened in limited release October 17. Schwartzman will next appear in Tim Burton film Big Eyes, and is also scheduled for 7 Chinese Brothers and The Overnight.