Dar Rollins ’95 and Adam Schweitzer ’99

2013 Forward under 40 Award Honoree

Dar Rollins '95 and Adam Schweitzer '99
Dar Rollins (right)
UW major: English Literature
Age: 39 • Los Angeles, California
Partner and co-head of talent, ICM Partners

Adam Schweitzer (left)
UW major: Mass Communications
Age: 35 • New York, New York
Partner and co-head of talent, ICM Partners

If you’ve got a screenplay burning a hole in your desk drawer, then Dar Rollins and Adam Schweitzer would be good people to know. The two are partners at International Creative Management (ICM) Partners, one of the world’s largest talent and literary agencies. From their offices in Los Angeles (Rollins) and New York (Schweitzer), the two help guide the careers of actors, writers and other talent in film, television, publishing, music and theater.

Though both were on campus in the 1990s, the two took different inspiration from the Wisconsin experience. An English major, Rollins found inspiration in the liberal atmosphere on Madison, which he felt encouraged him to make his own path in life, unlike the more jaded environment he had seen growing up.

“There never seemed to be a cynicism [at the UW],” Rollins says, “and there seemed to be a class for everything. … To me, a freeminded thinker [from] a high school where constant skepticism and cynicism sometimes made you question who you were, this was a brand-new way of approaching life.”

Schweitzer, who also serves on the board of directors at the agency, studied communication arts and found focus. “The UW gave me my first real introduction to the world of film,” he says. “The film theory classes I took helped train my eye and brain, both to watch and understand films in a way I had never thought of before.”

The two are now power players in America’s entertainment business. In 2011, Rollins and Schweitzer, along with Lorrie Bartlett, were named ICM Partners’ co-heads of talent, meaning that they lead the agency’s division that oversees film, TV, live theater, branding and new media. The duo helps manage the careers of a wide variety of movie stars, including Oscar winners Christoph Waltz and William Hurt; Oscar nominees Frank Langella and David Strathairn; Katie Holmes, Michael Keaton, Alan Rickman and Michael Sheen, and Julia Stiles. Other clients include television Emmy winners Ray Romano, Ty Burrell and Eric McCormack; Bobby Cannavale; Book of Mormon and 1600 Penn stars Josh Gad and Bill Pullman; and stage and screen star Nathan Lane.

Rollins credits his UW ties with making his job easier. “There are many executives, producers, directors [and] writers who have all graduated from the University of Wisconsin,” he says. “From Steve Levitan, Jorge Zamacona [and] Tom Rosenberg to Jane Kaczmarek and Seann William Scott, the connection of being alumni has given me the introduction or garnered a stronger connection amongst graduates. As a talent agent, [I strive] for some personal connection or relationship that strengthens [my] career — and indeed, just mentioning that I am an alum has done that.”

In their own words

Dar Rollins:

What was your favorite class?
Voices in American Humor. Any chance to get to read the novel that inspired A Christmas Story was fine in my book. And our teacher was one of the best.

What is the greatest benefit of a UW degree?
Two things. One, it means that you had the great pleasure to spend at least four years in the wonderful city of Madison. Two, it has helped shape the creative person that I have become.

Who is your hero? Who or what inspires you?
My mother is my hero. She raised me on her own. She had no money and found a way for me to attend the UW. She forced me to work to pay for my own incidentals while there. She showed me how to be responsible and look at things from a different vantage point. She molded me to be the man that I am now.

What are you reading now?
I read a ton of scripts daily and weekly. The last novel I read was Under the Net by Iris Murdoch. My favorite book of late is The Secret History by Donna Tartt.

What occupies your free time?
Listening to music, taking walks with my 10-month-old daughter, reading and having long, luxurious dinners with the love of my life, my wife, Lindsay.

Are you a cat person or dog person?
Both. Unfortunately, we lost our dog recently after 13 years. The experience was horrible. At least I had her in my arms as she took her last breath. I’ll never forget that. I think pets teach children wonderful lessons of responsibility, love, life and death.

Adam Schweitzer:

What was your favorite class?
All of the film production classes I took. They were my introduction into how movies are made from start to finish.

What was your first job?
I did a bunch of summer internships in the entertainment industry while I was still at the UW. My first real job was working as the assistant editor on a Nickelodeon show. That didn’t last long, and I quickly found my way to ICM, where I became an assistant to an agent.

What occupies your free time?
My family. I have been married for nine years, and I have two kids. I try to spend any free moment away from work with them. I work in an intense business that never really shuts down. So, balancing work and family is always the greatest challenge, but my biggest priority.

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