'The Walk' Star Ben Schwartz Explains Why He Left His Comedy Roots For The Death-Defying Drama
You probably recognize Ben Schwartz for his time on TV, playing the characters of Jean-Ralphio on Parks and Recreation and Clyde Oberholt on House of Lies. Yet when he's not busy slinging hilarious one-liners on television comedies, Schwartz is taking on the world of film. Recently, he starred in The Walk , about French performer Philippe Petit (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), who famously rigged a tightrope between the Twin Towers in 1974 and proceeded to cross it. Schwartz co-stars as Albert, a man Petit recruits to help with what seems like an almost impossible task. A fast-paced, suspenseful drama, The Walk, out now, definitely isn't the type of project many would think the 34-year-old comedian would be interested in, but according to Schwartz, The Walk attracted him for a few significant reasons.
"First of all, [Robert] Zemeckis directed it. He is a genius," the actor tells Bustle via phone. "He created my favorite movie of all time, which is Back to the Future... I remember doing the callback and him being in the room and being so honored to act in front of him. The fact that he chose me instead of other people it was very, very exciting."
Another major reason Schwartz wanted to play Albert was the movie's focus on the World Trade Center. Originally from New York, the actor says that the chance to star in a film revolving around the Twin Towers was something he couldn't pass up.
"I'm from New York and those Towers mean so, so much to me," he says.
Schwartz was also moved by The Walk's focus on people following their dreams, no matter the challenge.
"That event [Petit's walk] is so incredible and shows people you can chase your own dreams no matter how amazing they are, because that is an impossible feat," says the actor. "He walked a wire between the Twin Towers. That's amazing!"
Just like Petit was inspired by the Towers, Schwartz says he gets his inspiration from the world around him.
"It's a matter of connecting with humans and seeing things and observing," he says. "That's a big inspiration outside of idols and pieces of work that inspire me. I think it's a big thing. You gotta go out there and make sure you don't put yourself in a hole by just creating, creating, creating."
Which the actor is definitely doing. In addition to his roles on TV and film, Schwartz has been filming NFL webisodes for Courtyard Camera, a project he stars in, writes for, directs, and produces alongside his management company, Haven Entertainment. As a sports lover, Schwartz says he is living one of his dreams by interviewing NFL players, partaking in fun competitions with them, and talking "to people who inspire [him]."
"In between acting and writing movies, you have to live your life and you have to experience things," he says — advice that Petit and his co-conspirators knew all too well.
Images: Sony Pictures