About Schmidt

About Schmidt: TV One Sunday 29 October, 8.30pm 7/10.

Warren Schmidt (Jack Nicholson) has arrived at several of life’s crossroads all at the same time: he is retiring from a lifetime of service as an actuary for an insurance company, his only daughter Jeannie (Hope Davis) is about to marry a profoundly mediocre waterbed salesman, and his wife Helen (June Squibb) dies suddenly after 42 years of marriage.

With no job, no wife, and no family, Warren is desperate to find something meaningful in his life. He sets out on a journey of self-discovery, exploring his roots across Nebraska in the 35-foot motor home in which he had planned to drive around the country with his late wife. His ultimate destination is Denver, where he hopes to bridge the gulf between himself and his estranged daughter by arriving early to help with her wedding preparations.

Unfortunately, he loathes the groom-to-be, Randall (Dermot Mulroney) and is appalled by his boorish soon-to-be in-laws (Kathy Bates and Howard Hesseman). Warren swiftly arrives at the conclusion that his new purpose in life is to stop his daughter’s marriage.

Writer and director Alexander Payne liked the idea of focusing a comedy an ordinary Midwestern guy who has played by the rules his whole life. “What interested me was taking everything away from the man – his career, his marriage, his daughter, his fatherhood, all the institutions that had given him some semblance of meaning,” says Payne. “Without those things, maybe a man is forced to find the bedrock of who he really is. And maybe at his age it’s too late. Maybe he lacks the necessary skills anyway.”

“I also like the idea of a crossroads in a person’s life,” Payne continues. “It’s a time when you’re passing from one phase of your life into another, and in the best scenario you’re supposed to feel proud and be looking forward to what is to come, but all you really usually feel is emptiness and alienation. And alienation is good fodder for comedy.”

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About the author

Co-founder of Throng. Favourite TV shows recently: Homeland and The Newsroom.
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