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

"Bored" star might "walk into a bar and get looks like, 'Who's that guy?'"

ByABC News
October 1, 2009, 4:37 PM

Oct. 3, 2009— -- 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.