For decades Adam Scott has successfully played bad boys, historical figures, jerks and nice guys in both television and film. Days before the premiere of "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" at the New York Film Festival, where Scott plays yet another jerk, he sat down with Indiewire to discuss his leading man status in "A.C.O.D," in which he effortlessly swaps back to the status of nice guy. Scott plays Carter, an "Adult Child of Divorce" who must negotiate a truce between his long divorced parents (Richard Jenkins and Catherine O'Hara) when his brother (Clark Duke) gets engaged.
Throughout your career you've acted in a really wide variety of genres. You've done drama, you've done sci-fi, you've done action. Do you feel like comedy is where you want to stay? Is it your niche?
I don't know. I love it and it's really fun and I love the whole community around comedy in Los Angeles. It's a really tight knit, lovely group of people. Yeah, I love it and would be perfectly happy just staying there for the rest of my career. But I also sort of feel like I'm ready for some sort of a left turn and trying something different. I feel like it's something I'm always going to hopefully come back to and be a part of. But I don't know, actually, I've been thinking about it a lot lately and trying to figure out what to do next.
Do you know what kind of left turn you want to take?
I don't. I don't know. I mean action comedy is my favorite genre. Martin Brest movies, and you know Walter Hill movies from the 80s. I don't know, I'm not sure. But I think that one of the great things about where entertainment is right now, movies and TV being somewhat interchangeable culturally -- they kind of hold the same importance culturally whereas it used to be a lot different-- is that you can do all kinds of different things and there's a lot less pigeonholing than there used to be, I think. Just as a fan and a consumer, I think less of actors as one thing and belonging to one genre or medium. People do all kinds of things. And so I want to take advantage of that and try other stuff.
You have this great ability to play the nicest guy in the world and also the biggest jerk in the world. How do you seesaw so effortlessly between the two?
Aw, thank you. I don't know I think assholes are really funny. I love watching assholes and I just relish it. I love hearing about bad behavior, it's just so funny to me. Especially grown ups acting like weird, inconsolable babies over really stupid things to me is really funny. So it kind of started with "Step Brothers." It was just the prefect part, perfectly written. And it was so fun to be such a horrible, horrible person. I like both of those things. I don’t know why I gravitate towards nice guys and dick heads but I like them both.
Now with this and in "Friends with Kids," in the indies you seem to have earned this leading man type role. Do you feel like in indies specifically you're a supporting actor getting his due by getting to play the lead?
I don’t know if I'm getting my due just because I don’t necessarily feel like I'm owed anything or anything like that, but it's been great to be able to play these leading roles a few times. This one, as opposed to "The Vicious Kind" and "Friends with Kids," which were the other ones where I kind of played “the guy,” on those movies I got a day off here and there. This one was every single scene and all day every day, which I'm not even coming close to complaining about, but I did get a sense of how that is, and how exhausting that is. What I got a sense of for the first time was how exactly exhausted the crew and director must be, having to be there all day every day. It's a lot to do. And I freaked out halfway through and then settled down and kept going. But it was a bit of a wake up call to how much work that actually is. And there's a certain amount of pressure that comes with it too. If you're not good than the movie is not good. So yeah it's really, really great to be able to do that. I didn't know if I would ever be able to I'm just happy I have been able to.
I didn't pry too much into the backgrounds of the cast members, but are you or anyone else an "Adult Child of Divorce" and did that come up on set at all?
Yeah I am. I'm not sure about anyone else. My experience growing up was completely different. My parents did get divorced but it was very healthy and amicable and there were no fights or anything like that. It was a totally happy upbringing for my siblings and I so it was a totally different experience than what Stu and Ben [screenwriters Stuart Zicherman and Ben Karlin] had to fuel their screenplay. So luckily I did not draw on real life experiences for this.
Why do you think that Carter decides to participate in the second round of studies? What do you think is in it for him since it doesn't seem like he's ready to go back to that place, but he does it anyway.
I think that the discovery of the book and reading the perception of him as a kid really bugs him. Because he feels like he's figured everything out and he's the grown up. And he's conquered this whole situation and he's got it all wired. So when he reads this perception of him as this troubled kid, he needs to set the record straight and make sure that everyone knows that he's fine. And I think consciously he thinks that this is just a way to prove to everyone that that book is wrong, that he is fine, that he's the one that’s handling everything. But I think subconsciously I think he maybe kind of needs help. I think the book spoke some truths to him and so he wants to sort of dig a little and find out why he is the way he is. But I think on the surface he's just trying to set the record straight and show everyone that he's conquered this world that he's been thrust into.