Adam Scott‘s star has been rising for a few years now, with notable roles in cult favorite TV shows like Party Down and movies like Step Brothers, among others, but he’s been a fixture in film and television for nearly twenty years. These days, he’s probably most recognized for his role on NBC’s comedy hit Parks and Recreation as Ben Wyatt, the goofy but charming husband to Amy Poehler’s Leslie Knope.
Scott’s latest starring effort on the big screen, A.C.O.D. (Adult Children Of Divorce), opened in select theaters last week, and he was kind enough to chat with us about the new movie. First, though, we asked him about his Five Favorite Films, which he had some trouble nailing down; not only did we allow him more than five selections, but he also felt inclined to mention “the first two Godfather movies, but that goes without saying, I think, that those are perfect movies.” Here are the rest of his choices:
Raiders of the Lost Ark (Steven Spielberg, 1981; 95% Tomatometer)
My favorite movie is Raiders of the Lost Ark. I just think it’s perfect in every way. I find it very moving in parts. I think it’s incredibly exciting; obviously, it’s really funny. You know, it’s been my favorite movie ever since I first saw it when I was nine, I guess it was, and it’s just great. I can’t wait until my wife lets me show it to my son.
So you saw it when it was in theaters.
Yeah, I remember seeing it and thinking it was so funny, and it is. There’s just jokes galore in that movie. It’s so awesome. Like, I forget the name of the character, but he comes in and pulls out what look like nunchucks, and then makes the coat hanger out of it. Like that is just… That’s like Mel Brooks. It is so good. It’s just a perfect, perfect movie. I’m never sick of watching any of it.
Defending Your Life (Albert Brooks, 2001; 96% Tomatometer)
One of my other favorites is Defending Your Life, the Albert Brooks movie. It’s my favorite of his movies. I was kind of at the exact age where… I was graduating high school when that came out, and it spoke directly to me for whatever reason. Also, I don’t think I’ve ever laughed harder in a movie theater than the Past Lives Pavilion. It’s a really, really great movie. I don’t know if it’s my second favorite movie ever, but I would put it in my top five.
I would also put The King of Comedy. Certainly in my top three movies ever. I mean, it’s not underrated any more, because I think it’s certainly thought of as a classic movie, but at the time, it bombed like so many great movies did. I mean, it didn’t even get good reviews, which is insane. Like, I don’t know what its percentage it would have been on Rotten Tomatoes in 1983 when it came out. It’s such a great movie. And I think it’s sort of an endlessly fascinating subject, this sort of quest for celebrity, and the feeling that some have when they have it, which is just discontentment, and showing both sides of that fence really, really harshly. Jerry Lewis is just astounding in that movie.
I think Goodfellas is another one that’s one of my favorites, and certainly Raging Bull.
Big Scorsese fan, are we?
I am. Yeah, I love his movies. You know, when I was in high school, I discovered Scorsese and just loved all his movies. I’ve seen all of those movies so many times, it’s crazy. But yeah, those are all wonderful, and he’s someone that keeps making great movies, so I’m really excited for the next one.
Next, Scott talks about A.C.O.D., what it’s like working with friends, and how his own experiences as an adult child of divorce compare to the film.
RT: Let’s talk about A.C.O.D.. How did you come to be a part of this film? I saw that your name came up in the Executive Producer credits, so how did this all materialize for you?
Adam Scott: Well, I got the script through normal channels and just really loved it. I thought it was really funny, kind of an untapped genre of divorce comedy; I hadn’t really seen that before. I also liked that the character sort of starts out as this control freak, with this very adult, perfect job, perfect girlfriend sort of life, and then, through the course of the movie, as things unravel, he slowly sort of reverts back to being a kid again. And it usually works in the opposite in movies, like a coming-of-age story, but this is sort of the opposite, which I really thought was interesting structurally, and I thought it was really funny.
RT: The cast of this film is fantastic.
AS: Unbelievable, right?
RT: Yeah, I mean, Richard Jenkins, Catherine O’Hara, Jane Lynch, Amy Poehler… Now, you’ve worked with a lot of these people before, so did you have some say in bringing them in on A.C.O.D.?
AS: Yeah, I mean, I think if I was involved or not, I’m sure they could have gotten these people, because the script was really strong. But yeah, I’d worked with several of them before, and I sort of reached out a little bit and maybe helped a bit. But you know, again, if it was someone else playing the part, I think they probably would have gotten the same people. We got really lucky with who we got, that’s for sure. I helped rope in Amy Poehler, and anyone who gets Amy in their movie or TV show is really, really lucky. We’re no different.
RT: At what point did you come on as Executive Producer?
AS: I just came on really early, so I just offered up my help, and if I could help in any way, getting it together and getting people signed on, I was willing and ready to do that. They were enthusiastic about it as well.
RT: Going back to the cast and the folks you’ve worked with in the past, were these relationships you’d formed prior to working with them, or did they develop on set of the various projects you did together?
AS: No, I didn’t know Jane Lynch before Party Down, and I didn’t know Amy before Parks and Recreation either. We just sort of became friends on those shows.
AS: It’s the best. I mean, there’s nothing better than making things with your friends, and I hope to be able to do it for a long time to come. It’s my favorite way of working, with friends. But, you know, on A.C.O.D. there were a lot of people I didn’t know either, like Catherine O’Hara, or Jessica Alba, or Mary Elizabeth Winstead. But I happen to be friends already with Clark Duke and Richard Jenkins. But I’ve been able to work with Catherine again since, so it’s great to work with friends, but it’s always great to meet new people as well.
RT: Now, I’m a fan of Parks and Recreation, so it was a little weird seeing you and Amy Poehler go from being a loving couple on that show to being a spiteful stepmom and son duo in A.C.O.D.. Did you find yourselves accidentally calling each other “Ben” and “Leslie” on set?
AS: Yeah, you know what? She did call me “Ben” once on set. It was really funny. It actually slipped out, and we all kind of stopped, and it turned into an “aww” moment. It was a pretty adorable moment, I have to say.
RT: In this movie, you play sort of a put-upon everyman, the sane guy in the middle of a lot of insanity, which is similar to the character you play on Parks and Rec. But at the same time, you’re a versatile comedic actor, and you’ve played vastly different roles before. For example, I’ll never forget how effectively despicable you were as Derek in Step Brothers. How much of the true Adam Scott actually exists in each of those portrayals?
AS: I don’t know. I would hope that the nice person is closer, but I find assholes so funny. I love watching them in real life and in movies and stuff. People that are petty shitheads are just hilarious to me, and it’s super fun to play, so I hope to play assholes for many years to come.
RT: And how much of you exists in the “rock that scoober” version of Ben Wyatt?
AS: [laughs] I feel like that side of Ben whenever I’m with my kids, trying to be cool.
RT: Are you yourself an A.C.O.D.?
AS: I am, yes.
RT: I’m not myself, so one thing that struck me as I watched the film was that I assumed the situations depicted were exaggerated for comic effect, but I’m hearing from a lot of folks that they related completely to the movie, and the end credits interviews reflected more of the same. Were you able to relate to the film in that way?
AS: You know, my parents split when I was really young, but it was a really amicable, peaceful split. My siblings and I had a happy, really healthy upbringing, so I didn’t really relate to any of that in the movie. But I did think the script was funny, and I’ve heard stories from other people over the years of ridiculous, almost surreal divorces in their families. So yeah, I didn’t personally relate to that stuff, but I thought it was really funny.
RT: It’s clear that the ending [SPOILER ALERT] is left purposefully ambiguous, but in your mind, who?s getting married in the final shot?
AS: I do not know. I sort of think it’s all three, but I’m not exactly sure.