Eye on Emmy: Adam Scott Still Counts His Lucky Stars For 'Incredible' Parks and Rec Gig

If there’s one thing Adam Scott wants you to know about him, it’s this: He might be the biggest Parks and Recreation fan around. Nerdily so, in fact. (His words, not ours.)

Sure, it sounds a little strange given that he’s actually on the NBC charmer, but that wasn’t always the case. See, Scott’s Season 2 guest arc had developed into a full-time gig by the beginning of Season 3 — long after he was a Pawnee devotee — giving him a free pass at super fandom just like the rest of us. With Emmy buzz (finally) swirling around Parks and Rec, TVLine spoke to Scott about making his dream gig a reality.

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TVLINE | Parks and Recreation had this surge of funny throughout Season 2, but I think its safe to say that when you joined the show full-time in its third year, something even funnier was infused into the show.
Well, I was a big nerd for the show to begin with, so just walking around and being on the set and being able to look in the desk drawers and things felt like I was on a Universal Studios tour or something. [Laughs] I actually still do that, because Leslie’s office has all of these mementos from her life, like pictures of Hillary Clinton and the Jane Pauley autobiography — I still marvel at the set and the fact that I’m actually a part of this thing now. Anyway, coming into the show I already loved it and thought it was hilarious and amazing, so my only concern was not screwing it up. I didn’t feel like I was going to reinvigorate anything, all I was worried about was ruining something.

TVLINE | You do now realize that you’ve ruined nothing, right?
Well, I love being there, and the writers are incredible — Mike [Schur] and Greg [Daniels] are just amazing guys. They’ve written me great stuff and I’m very, very lucky to be there. It’s really a terrific place to work.

TVLINE | Still, it’s got to be a little strange coming into an already established show — though I imagine the Parks cast was very welcoming.
They were mostly welcoming. One weird thing is that Rashida Jones will pants any new person on the set — whether it be guest cast or a new permanent cast member or someone new on the crew — every day for the first two weeks. She just pulls your pants down, and it’s really embarrassing. And no one laughs or anything. It’s super awkward. She won’t stop pulling people’s pants down.

TVLINE | Seriously?!
No, I’m kidding! [Laughs] Everyone was cool. I actually knew Rashida, and I knew Nick [Offerman] because his wife Megan Mullally was on Party Down, so we’d hung out a lot. I’m a thoroughly nervous person anyway, so coming into this awesome show had me a little on edge — like the new kid at school. I didn’t know how I would do, but immediately everyone was super nice and there was no transition period as far as I could tell. It’s exactly like the show — they’re all really nice people who are passionate about their jobs.

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TVLINE | You’ve said you were a big fan of Parks before joining, but was there one specific thing that initially attracted you to the role of Ben?
Honestly, what drew me to the part was the show itself. I didn’t even know what the part was, but when Mike told me about the “teen mayor” aspect of the character, that’s when I got super excited because that is fantastic. That is a great, great backstory. [Laughs] I still count my lucky stars that I get to have that story with my character. It’s just an endless well of embarrassment. Can you imagine your teenage years being on display? It’s even worse than being on a teenage sitcom because it was real. He was actually mayor and he actually got impeached, and it’s just awful. [Laughs]

TVLINE | Oddly enough, that Ice Town backstory tends to lead to give you some dramatic material — especially for a sitcom.
You know, I feel like comedy is mostly circumstantial. There’s not a whole lot of difference, at least for me, in the way I play things. When I watch Will Ferrell or Albert Brooks or Amy Poehler, for that matter, the funniest things are when they’re so deadly serious about something. It’s the circumstance the character is put in that’s where the comedy comes from. With Parks, they put me in this awful, humiliating circumstance and I can’t wink at the audience because then it wouldn’t be funny. So, I try to play it like it’s the most serious thing that I’ve ever done in my life — and hopefully that will make it funny.

TVLINE | To that point, you were actually a dramatic actor for most of you career — up until Step Brothers, I believe. Are you ever surprised that you’ve veered so successfully into comedy?
It’s funny, like a lot of people who are in comedy, I started out thinking I was going to be a dramatic actor. I was very, very serious and I used words like “craft” and “process” a lot. But at the end of the day when I really honestly look at when I was growing up and became a movie fanatic in the ’80s, it’s Beverly Hills Cop and Caddyshack and The Blues Brothers and The Jerk that I was watching incessantly. I wasn’t watching Raging Bull on a loop; that came later. So, when I kind of lucked out and got that part in Step Brothers and went on this path, it just felt so good and fun — it’s a blast. I love doing more serious stuff as well and will continue to, but I really enjoy comedy. There’s also a really terrific community built around it, with great people I’ve come to be friends with. Say I’m working at Parks and I’m on the way home and I get a call from someone who wants me to jump on stage at UCB and do something really fast — that’s so fun! I can still get home in time to put the kids in bed, and I just did two really cool things in one day. It’s not like there’s a community of dramatic actors doing heartbreaking readings each night. [Laughs] When I’m driving to work on Parks, I can’t wait to get there and I’m thinking about who I’m going to keep a straight face while shooting. But on the way to work on something like Tell Me You Love Me, which I thought was a great show, I was hoping I could cry properly when we lost the baby…. This path opens the day up to a lot more fun.

TVLINE | I imagine that whole “straight face” thing is a doozy on the Parks set. With so many of you coming from an improv background, is there much of that going on in each episode?
A little bit. It’s certainly not necessary given the writing staff we have. But usually at the end of a scene they give us a take to do whatever we want and we all screw around and improvise, though sometimes we don’t because it’s not necessary. Also, if you’re doing a talking head and there’s a joke, after several takes you can throw in any idea you might have. Though I think the best choice is the written one most of the time.

TVLINE | Which is exactly why Parks and Recreation is the perfect contender for some Emmy love.
I just like that in a sense Emmy nominations prompt people to — hopefully — watch the show. It’s all that any of us want out of this. It’s a nice opportunity for people who were maybe not familiar with the show to become aware of it. And if that’s what comes of this whole Emmy race, then that’s great.

TVLINE | Do any Parks moments pop out at you as your most favorite so far?
When Ben is in the house with April (Aubrey Plaza) and Andy and they’d just come back from Bed, Bath & Beyond, Chris shoots me with a marshmallow gun. We did that a bunch of times, and standing there not cowering — because I’m a giant p—y — or laughing… I was actually able to get through one without moving and I am incredibly proud of that.

Comments (19)

  • I love Parks & Rec and Adam Scott is amazing on it. I feel like I didn’t know something was missing until his character appeared and now it’s just a perfect show.

    Anyway, next season: Community/Parks & Rec cross-over. The study group gets a tour of Pawnee city hall, or the Pawnee-ans are at a job fair thing for Greendale. It would be the best thing ever.

    Comment by RP – June 16, 2011 05:55 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Community’s in California, P&R’s in Indiana. I’m not saying it’s a bad idea, but it seems a little unlikely, and neither show seems like it wants to go too far out of the realm of believability.

      Comment by Sam – June 16, 2011 06:03 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Community might actually be a bit too wacky for P&R. But both casts have such amazing casts that exchanging guest stars could be awesome. Community in particular can string awesome guest stars by virtue of having different professors for different classes.

        Comment by ScrubsGuy – June 16, 2011 06:46 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Community’s in Colorado.

        Comment by Jaymii – June 16, 2011 07:03 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I couldn’t agree more with your first point! I had no idea there was anything left to add to P&R – it was so fantastic as it was. But then Adam brought Ben Wyatt to life and Pawnee just got that much better. Now I can’t picture the show without him.

      On a side note, I’m so happy to see Adam Scott getting so much (deserved) recognition. He’s been a favourite of mine for some time and it really makes me happy to see :)

      Comment by pollyprissypant – June 17, 2011 07:20 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I´ve been a fan of PRex since the beggining and it hasn´t been better than this last season, Adam has injected such an amazing energy to an already amazing show. I hope they keep exploring “Beslie” because they are the cutest couple on Tv right now. I really hope they finally get some Emmy love because they surely deserve it since season 2.

    Comment by Rod – June 16, 2011 06:30 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Man, I love Adam Scott (and Ben Wyatt). He is the perfect (mostly) straight man on Parks and Rec. I LOVE his ba ba booey on The Fight and the whole episode where he lives with Andy and April (Jerry’s Painting!!) is incredible. Can’t wait to see all the Emmy love for this show!

    Comment by Amy – June 16, 2011 07:11 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • While the show was already wonderful, Scott’s addition to the cast was the best thing they did. He’s such a natural fit with the cast and has added so much to the show. (though I still weep for Party Down)

    It also helps that he’s super hilarious. Big things are gonna happen for this guy. His role choices are superb.

    Comment by Katie – June 16, 2011 09:00 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I love Adam Scott too, and am glad he was picked up by something after Party Down (which I also loved!). Now if they could just do something with Rob Lowe like send him on an extended trip….

      Comment by Love Adam! – June 17, 2011 06:43 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I miss Party Down!

    Comment by Kaiulani – June 16, 2011 10:38 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Love, love, love Parks & Rec, and Adam Scott has been a great addition. I get the biggest kick out of him. Nice to know after reading this, he seems like a pretty good guy, too.

    Comment by jrs – June 17, 2011 06:11 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Rashida Jones is the PANTS QUEEN!

    Comment by Liz S. – June 17, 2011 07:39 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I miss him and Lizzie Caplain and the rest of the “Party Down” crew. Someone needs to give Ken Marino a full time job.

    Comment by bhm1304 – June 17, 2011 08:01 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Check out Ken Marino on Children’s hospital on Adult Swim. I agree though, he needs a full time gig as well because each ep of Children’s Hospital is only 11 minutes :(

      Comment by josh – June 17, 2011 08:51 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I think it’s great Adam Scott can act on P&R and keep his pro golf career going at the same time. There’s something about his face that makes him look like an actor out of the 1920s. I don’t know if it’s the shape of his features or coloring or what, but from certain angles he has a really unusual look.

    Comment by Tego Livi – June 17, 2011 09:05 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Um…actually, Adam Scott the golfer and Adam Scott the actor are two different people. Adam Scott the golfer is Australian and born in 1980. This Adam Scott, the actor, is from California and born in 1973.

      Comment by Sarah Beth – June 17, 2011 12:51 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Um, see…there’s this thing called “humor”……

        Comment by Tego Livi – June 18, 2011 10:03 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Hahaha! Your first line made me laugh out loud!

      Comment by Emma – June 17, 2011 02:09 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I love Adam Scott and I love Parks and Rec, so having him on this show is like the perfect combo. He is lucky to be there and they are lucky to have him. Emmy nom!!!

    Comment by Mandy – June 17, 2011 11:56 AM PDT  Reply To This Post

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