Jason Schwartzman Imagines Secret Identity as Brylcream Stain-Leaving Tough Guy

What do an eccentric high school sophomore, King Louis XVI, a fox and a struggling writer turned moonlighting detective have in common?

They are all Jason Schwartzman, the multifaceted star of HBO's new television series "Bored to Death," whose life is anything but boring.

"I play a young writer named Jonathan Ames and live in Brooklyn, N.Y.," said Schwartzman in an interview with ABC News Now's "Popcorn" with Peter Travers. "I'm a struggling writer. Well, I've written a novel and am struggling with the second one. My girlfriend breaks up with me because I've broken my promise to be sober and a great writer."

"Bored to Death" was created by the real Jonathan Ames, who has successfully written several books, including the graphic novel, "The Alcoholic."

In the HBO series, the character Jonathan Ames tries to escape from his harsh reality and turns to classic private detective novels.

"He responds to tough detectives who wouldn't get their hearts broken -- they just wouldn't stand for it! They have whiskey for breakfast," said Schwartzman.

Ames goes on Craigslist and, as a lark, offers his services as an unlicensed (untrained and unarmed) private detective for hire and, within hours, gets his first case to find a missing girl.

Schwartzman identifies with his character because they both yearn to have a tougher side and be stronger, very masculine heroes. They want to, as he put it, "walk into a bar and get looks like, 'Who's that guy?'"

Schwartzman's ideal other life would include a lot of leather and a coolness that only people like Cary Grant, independent filmmaker Jim Jarmusch or musician Tom Waits effortlessly exude. His fantasy life would be driving "a car with bad mileage," wearing "a lot of leather," and leaving "a stain with all my Brylcreem and mousse," he confesses.

At the HBO premiere, the real Ames, sporting an "I heart Jason" button, described Schwartzman as a beautiful person who carried the entire show. He also praised co-stars Ted Danson, who plays George Christopher, a high-profile magazine editor and Ames' boss; and "The Hangover"'s Zach Galifianakis, who plays a comic book illustrator Ray Hueston and Ames' best friend.

Schwartzman's first acting gig was in 1999 as the star of Wes Anderson's "Rushmore," in which he played Max Fischer, a quirky 15-year-old high school sophomore caught in a love triangle with his widowed teacher and a depressed tycoon played by Bill Murray. Murray's much quoted line when speaking of his love is, "She's my Rushmore, Max."

Schwartzman's Rushmore, he said, is "the time I get to spend with my family. I just make the most of it. I love my wife. I love my dog (a French bulldog called Arrow). I love my mom and I love my brothers."

Schwartzman is the son of actress Talia Shire (nee Coppola) and the late producer Jack Schwartzman. His uncle is acclaimed director Francis Ford Coppola and his cousins are Nicholas Cage and director Sofia Coppola, who cast him as King Louis XVI in her 2006 movie "Marie Antoinette," starring Kirsten Dunst.

Despite his prestigious pedigree, Schwartzman did not grow up in the business.

"I was never on a film set growing up. My mother does not gravitate to liking that world and, socially, she doesn't have friends in the business," he said.

Schwartzman did not have aspirations to be an actor because the movie stars of his youth were "larger than life" and seemed "so far away, unreachable and untouchable."

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