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Talking Friends (And Kids) With Adam Scott

Although all of the ads for the new romantic comedy Friends with Kids play up the movie's impressive ensemble -- Jon Hamm! Kristen Wiig! Maya Rudolph! Megan Fox! -- they don't indicate that Adam Scott is actually the movie's leading man. The Parks and Recreation star plays Jason Fryman, a single-and-loving-it New Yorker who decides to enter into an unusual arrangement with his best friend, Julie (Jennifer Westfeldt, who also wrote and directed the movie): they'll have a kid together and share joint custody, but since they're not actually attracted to each other, they won't bother with marriage. At first, this arrangement gives Jason the best of both worlds as he's able to experience the fun of fatherhood while also being able to indulge his single guy hormones by dating a smoking hot Broadway dancer (Megan Fox). But then... well, you'll just have to see the movie for yourself. In town for the movie's premiere, Scott spoke with us about how he scored the gig and what costume he wore for Halloween last year. (Hint: He previously donned it for a very popular episode of Parks and Rec.)

TWoP: In previous interviews, you've said that you didn't start out intending to become a comic actor, but that's the career path you've been on recently. Do you feel more comfortable in comic roles now?
Adam Scott: I do. I feel more comfortable than I did before because it's just more fun. Also, my favorite movies have mostly been comedies, so I don't know why it didn't occur to me earlier that I should pursue this. It just kind of happened by accident when I got the part in Step Brothers that I never thought I was going to get. But when I got it, I was taken with the way those guys make movies and decided I never wanted to go back. Then came Party Down, which was a thing I did with my friends because I liked them and it was a short commitment. So I just said, "Yeah, I'll go do this thing and then I'll move on and start my dramatic career." But that was so much fun that I just didn't want it to end; we did another season and I was broken-hearted when Starz canceled it. But then the blessing of Parks and Rec came along, which I was already a huge fan of. So it all kind of snowballed. Honestly, I don't know how long I would have lasted going down the [dramatic] road I was on. I wasn't sure I was even enjoying it anymore -- it was like chasing some brass ring that doesn't even really exist. And I find myself in a place now where I'm very happy because I'm just making things with my friends. And that's all I want to do.

TWoP: You've also made fun of some of the movies you appeared in when you were just starting out, like Hellraiser: Bloodline. Now that you're more established as a performer, it must be nice to be able to choose projects like Friends with Kids instead of having to take whatever comes along.
Scott: Luckily, I've been friends with Jen and Jon for so long, otherwise there's no way I would have gotten this role in Friends With Kids. So yeah, I love the things that I've been doing and I like that I've been doing things I want to do. For any actor for the first several years, you're not in control over what you're doing -- you're just trying to get jobs. Eventually you try to find your way and I'm just lucky that this whole thing has found me.

TWoP: This character, Jason, is a bit of a change-up for you, both because he's a dad and also due to his swinging single lifestyle. Was that what drew you to the project?
Scott: I was struck by Jen's script immediately and kind of moved by it. It captured so specifically the way having a kid changes you and changes the way you look at the world and yourself and your place in it. You realize that what you do is important and you need to take care of this person and your actions matter. You can't just act selfishly. I think Jason goes through this transformation from being a selfish person who is only concerned with the immediate gratification of the moment to someone who wants to make sure he isn't alone in the world and cares about things other than himself. And through that... he discovers the love of Jesus Christ. [Laughs]

TWoP: And follows Megan Fox's character into musical theater by starring in Jesus Christ Superstar.
Scott: Right. The sequel is all about him becoming born again.

TWoP: W.C. Fields famously warned comic actors never to work with kids or animals. Based on your experience here, was he right?
Scott: So often you see performances by kids that seem very stiff and child actor-y. But Jen was great with the kids in this movie. She realized early on that you need to capture what they're doing and work around them rather than get them to bend backwards and do what you want, because then you're just going to get something unnatural. For me personally, being with a little boy and pretending to be his dad just made me miss my own boy and my daughter. But they were lovely kids and the parents were great. They weren't weird stage parents -- they were nice regular parents and were actually on the fence about having their kid in a movie, which I think is very healthy.

TWoP: You probably get this question a lot, but is the Party Down movie closer to happening? And could we potentially see a Parks and Rec film after the show ends? It seems like there's great potential to do a Simpsons Movie-style feature with the citizens of Pawnee.
Scott: I don't know when we'll be doing the Party Down movie, but we're all crossing our fingers that it's sooner rather than later. And as for Parks, hopefully we'll just be making that show forever so we won't even have to worry about a movie. But it would be pretty great.

TWoP: You've definitely developed a distinct comic persona; how much of your onscreen self is you and how much is the character?
Scott: I guess it depends on what it is I'm doing. I find my characters in Parks and Party Down to be vastly different, but I feel like they both have a lot of me in them. I think you always use parts of yourself [in your performances], otherwise I don't think it's good. You have to share yourself with the character. I look back on my work from when I was starting out and it wasn't good because I was so stiff -- I was trying to be a character that wasn't me at all, so it's not interesting to watch.

TWoP: On Parks and Rec this season, for example, we saw Ben treat himself by buying and wearing a full Batman costume. Is that the sort of thing you would have hanging in your own closet?
Scott: You know, I borrowed the costume for Halloween and walked around [our neighborhood]. I was the big man on campus -- all the little kids freaked out. My kids thought it was pretty cool. As a kid I was really into comic books and stuff, but not so much as an adult. I'm also a big Star Wars nerd and movie nerd in general, not quite on the level that Ben is, but certainly there's some of my own tastes in there. I'm definitely on board with Game of Thrones. I'm so excited for that to start again.

TWoP: Do you hope that audiences see a different side of you in Friends with Kids?
Scott: I don't know, I just hope they like the movie! As far as what people see in it, I know when I watch movies I just do a lot of projection. So hopefully they relate to something about the movie and my character and project what they will onto it. But I mainly just hope people like it and think it's good. I think it's really good, Jen did a great job. And I get to do stuff in the movie that I haven't been able to do before and I'm happy that my friends gave me the part. It was really, really nice of them. [Laughs]

TWoP: So they really just handed you the part? You didn't have to audition or anything?
Scott: Yeah and you know, I reminded them over and over again that they could get someone far more famous than me and it would be a lot easier to get the movie made. But for whatever reason they kept me onboard, which was very nice.

Click here to read our review of Friends with Kids

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