The Secret Life of Jason Schwartzman and other Movie Star Musicians

Jason Schwartzman

Jason Schwartzman…the band man?

When most people think of Jason Schwartzman the image of Max Fischer might come to mind.  If you have seen Rushmore (the film that launched both Schwartzman and Wes Anderson to fame), you will have no problem imagining that the cocky and over-achieving (in everything but his school work) Jason Schwartzman that carries the movie, is, in fact, the true man.  You would then be surprised, as I was, to discover that he isn’t just the intellectualizing character that he often plays on screen.

Prior to Schwartzman’s acting career, he was the drummer and songwriter for the band Phantom Planet and most recently relaunched himself as a solo indie act under the title Coconut Records.  That song “West Coast” that maybe you have been humming along to or enjoying passively on one Pandora station or another, is, in fact, our dear friend Jason Schwartzman.

Jeff+Bridges+jeffmusicThis led me to wonder what other actors have turned musicians or musicians turned actors turned musicians again…So with a little digging, I was able to discover some other “rock stars” (besides Jason Schwartzman) masquerading as actors.

Jeff Bridges (aka “The Dude”) was playing guitar and piano long before he came to embody the jobless, slacker, LA bum anti-hero that has reached an almost god-like status in indie culture.  Having recently debuted his second album, the solo musician Bridges exposed his true passion in the form of 11 heartfelt country songs…the Dude abides.  This is by no means my type of music but it is worth a notable mention.

As are the unusual musical contributions of actor, Ryan Gosling.  Another actor who has probably worked tirelessly to break out of the role that made him famous – playing the lead heartthrob in the god-awful romantic drama, The Notebook.  But secretly, besides making a lot better movies since then, he has been making melancholic ballads with his band Dead Man’s Bones.  Under the stage name “Baby Goose” Gosling and bandmate Zach Shields have created a unique amalgam of eerie children’s choral music, dark somewhat brooding melodies that are reminiscent of Joy Division and some of the earlier bands of the punk/new wave genre, alongside ghost-story inspired lyrics.  I was pleasantly surprised…I guess it resonates with the type of “flat line” anthems I loved so much as an angsty teenager.

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I know I am going to miss out on a lot of other movie stars who are secretly musical geniuses but the last one that was unusual enough to draw my attention was Ukrainian-born model/actress Milla Jovovich.  Admittedly this one is a throwback to the mid-90s since I don’t know of her producing anything of mention recently but the sweet melodies on her album Divine Comedy (1994), have something to them.  Maybe it’s just that you generally expect a model/actress to churn out some shallow pop tune rather than anything of substance – either musically or lyrically -that makes her music pleasantly worthwhile.  It sounds a bit like music you might hear at a Renaissance Festival or while frolicking in a green Irish meadow but it’s sweet and her lilting voice definitely has something unique.

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