After years of toiling as a dramatic actor in tiny roles that didn't get him much notice, Adam Scott broke out with a hilarious supporting turn in 2008's Step Brothers and has turned that into a second career as the straight man surrounded by comedic madness on shows like Party Down and Parks & Recreation. WIth this weekend's indie romantic comedy Friends With Kids, though, Scott emerges as a straight-up leading man, starring opposite Jennifer Westfeldt as two friends who decide to have children together, without all the complicating elements of romance or marriage.
As you can read in Eric's rave review, the "friends having a kid together" idea doesn't pan out nearly that simply, but it gives Scott and Westfeldt time to strike up a nice chemistry even in the middle of terribly awkward sex scenes, and allows Scott to stretch his comedic legs with the supporting cast that includes comedy superstars like Kristen Wiig, Chris O'Dowd, Maya Rudolph and Jon Hamm. I talked to Scott at the Toronto Film Festival last fall about the pressure of being funny in that kind of crowd, and how when you're shooting an awkward sex scene, it's actually even easier than trying to take it seriously. Check out the interview below, and catch Friends With Kids in limited release now.
What's your history of awkward sex scenes on film? Is this as awkward as it gets?
Any sex scene is awkward. No matter how comfortable everyone looks, it's always awkward. I did this HBO show Tell Me You Love Me, and it was like a sex scene every episode.
Was that more awkward because you had to do so many?
The awkward thing was after like five episodes, starting to get used to it. I remember on particular episode we started getting ready for a sex scene and I was like, "Oh my god, I'm getting used to this. This is not good." It's never a blast.
So is a deliberately awkward sex scene just the same, only you get to play the character as awkward too?
Yeah pretty much. You let the awkwardness out, rather than trying to pretend that it's not there.
Does working with a baby add an x-factor? You know, you're working with all of your friends, but there's also this human you can't control.
Yeah, you've just got to let it fly, and the baby is the boss of the scene. They don't give a shit about cut, or rolling, or anything. You've just got to strike while the iron's hot and hope that they cooperate.
You have kids, so you must be familiar with how babies work.
Yeah, I'm pretty good with a baby, but they weren't my baby, and sometimes they just wanted their mom. It was tough. When the kids got a little bigger it was easier, because you could develop a rapport with them.
Are you done with working with kids now?
No, y'know, they were really good kids. I wouldn't rule that out at all. But it did add an x-factor certainly, while we were shooting, that you never quite knew what was going to happen.
When you're on a set not just with professional comedians, but people who all know each other, how does that affect the dynamic of something like the dinner table scene, where you're all there together.
Yeah, everybody was friends already, so that was a really long day shooting, just one day shooting that dinner table scene, which with a bunch of strangers would have been a lot more difficult than it was. Even though Kristen Wiig is sitting next to me and I'm just worried that what I"m doing sucks.
But you know each other!
No, the whole table, it was like, "I really don't want to suck in front of these people." Because they're all amazing. But we did it so many times within the course of 12 hours that I got plenty of chances to make up for bad takes.