Peep World - Ben Schwartz
Nathan Meyerwitz (Ben Schwartz) at a book signing © 2010 IFC Films

In the new comedy Peep World, Ben Schwartz plays Nathan, the youngest sibling of wealthy businessman Henry Meyerwitz (Ron Rifkin), who has written a tell-all book exposing all of his family’s dirty secrets.

His sister Cheri (Sarah Silverman), a drama queen and struggling actress, is enraged to see a movie of Nathan’s book, Peep World, being shot right outside of her home, watching a more successful actress play a horribly unflattering version of her. What’s Cheri’s solution to that? Suing her younger brother for libel.

Over the course of 24 hours, this family of misfits will summon their courage to come together to celebrated their father’s 70th birthday, even though they all despise him.

What was it about the script that made you want to do this?

Ben Schwartz: As a person that comes from a comedic background, doing improv and doing my own short films and stuff, it was a chance to actually be dramatic in some sense and then be comedic as well and also have multiple layers to a character, which is a joy. When you find out who is going to be associated with the movie and you see where the characters can go, it’s intense.

I get to learn from some of the funniest and most talented actors in the world. So for me it was those aspects

Peep World - Sarah Silverman
Cheri (Sarah Silverman) © 2010 IFC Films

Sarah Silverman: I liked the contrast of it. The combination of the sadness and patheticness of Cheri and how that is kind of funny.

Do you think Cheri is having issues with her father or is it an issue with herself for not achieving his success?

Sarah: I think that so much that motivates all of us has to do with our formative years, and what has to do with our formative years is usually to do with one of our parents. We constantly are reliving that and constantly trying to make it right. I think it’s pretty basic therapy, the revelation that, ‘Wow, I keep dating my father.

I keep recreating something that I know I don’t want, but that is familiar to me and that I want to somehow make right.’ But that is a scenario that you can never really make right. None of [the Meyerwitz siblings] are ever going to get our father’s approval, except for Nathan.

Dexter, 5.12 - Poster
Poster © 2010 IFC Films

Ben: But at the end Henry didn’t even read my book. So in essence the thing that made me feel like I had status above all my siblings, outside of the money and the idea of fame, I’m assuming that I’m the one my father talks about, when he meets all of his friends, and the second he tells me that he hasn’t even read the book it just destroys me

The validity that I thought I was getting, I achieved none of that at all. It just makes me feel like if he didn’t read the book then I don’t care if anybody read the book.

What’s your take on Cheri, is she a bitch?

Sarah: To me this character is not a two-dimensional bitch, but somebody who is pathetic and heartbreaking and I have compassion for her in that way. There’s a pathos because she’s drowning and weak and looking to blame someone for her unhappiness, but completely incapable of being happy.

If everything were to go the way she wanted it to, it would add up to the same misery.

Do you feel that they’ve changed in the end or will they go back and be the same people?

Ben: I think in the end when you see them together as a unit that that is huge, the idea that all these different blood vessels and arteries can create a heart.

I think the second this moment is over and all the pain is alleviated, when they’re themselves again and they are around the people that fueled the things that make them caricatures of human beings that we see, I go right back into being the same person.

But I think that moment near the end of the film, when you actually see them rise as a family for the first time, that’s the voyage and the arc that we see them complete. As for them as human beings individually, I have no idea if that stands true.

Peep World - Sarah Silverman
Cheri (Sarah Silverman) © 2010 IFC Films

Sarah: For this brief moment, just like Katrina or 9/11, everybody comes together and remembers what’s important, but time will dissipate that and we’ll forget what’s important once again.

Do you think Nathan writes a second book about his family?

Ben: Oh, that’s a good question. I think Nathan writes a series of young adult novels following the lives of vampires dating birds, because when they’re not human they’re bats. I just thought [that up]!


Judy Sloane

Judy is Film Review Online's regular Los Angeles based reporter.