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Great Scott: Adam Scott Talks Party Down and Parks and Recreation

There's no danger that Adam Scott will ever be the guy known only for a catch phrase in a beer commercial.

The boyish-looking 37-year-old actor stars in Party Down, which returns tonight for its second season after receiving critical adoration for its first season, and he'll next be seen in NBC's Parks and Recreation beginning with the final two episodes of the season. (He then segues to a series regular role on the Universal Media Studios-produced comedy next season.)

I talked to Adam Scott last month for a feature that ran earlier this week on The Daily Beast about Party Down (which can be read here).

While that feature article focused entirely on Party Down (and also featured quotes from co-creator/showrunner John Enbom and ex-Starz executive Bill Hamm), I thought I'd bring you more details from my lengthy interview with Scott a few weeks back, during which we talked about Party Down and his role on Parks and Rec, and he extracted a piece of dried apple from his daughter's mouth. (Yes, seriously.) Those exchanges are presented as a Q&A-style transcript from our conversation.

Here, we talk about expectations, the power shift in Season Two of Party Down, the atmosphere on Parks and Recreation, and whether being a cater-waiter or working in local government would be the tougher gig.

Televisionary: Was there any pressure to live up to any expectations with the second season of Party Down?

Adam Scott: Yes, definitely. The fans are few, but they’re very passionate. We don’t want to let them down. It’s hard because we really love Season One, all of us. That’s why we all came back for season Two. They didn’t have any of the actors under contracts. None of us were required to come back. We all wanted to.

No one’s getting rich on this show. Everybody really wanted to come back. It’s hard work; even though it’s super fun, it’s hard work with limited time and budget, etc. We all really wanted to make it as good as possible and didn’t want to screw it up for the fans… they’re kind of ever-growing and ever-passionate. So, we really wanted to be as good as we could. We just hoped that they like it and we don’t let anyone down.

I know that the Ricky Sargulesh episode from Season One has been a particular Achilles heel for our head writer and showrunner John Enborn because everyone compares everything to that one. It’s one of the high points of Season One. We’re always trying to live up to that and Sweet 16 and some of the others that are everyone’s favorites.

Televisionary: In the second season, Henry takes on a leadership role within the group and there is a major power shift. Was it difficult to switch gears and play Henry as more the heavy rather than as sort of the prototypical slacker?

Adam Scott: Yes. It was interesting. I loved being able to make that shift and start the season with a bit of a game change, as it were. Sort of the cliff hanger of the season last year was would Henry actually do this. It was all kind of in disarray. So, not only did he decide to do it, but he’s kind changed his whole outlook on life. He’s trying to get his shit together and really taking this job seriously and dating Uda who’s a monster in her own right. So, yes, I think it was great.

Jace Lacob: What is John Enbom like as a show runner? What’s it like working with him?

Adam Scott: He’s a terrific showrunner. He’s a very low-key guy and a very collaborative guy. I know showrunners sometimes aren’t that way. Sometimes, they can be a little nuts because there is a lot of pressure. But I also think that the size of the show makes it somewhat manageable even though the guy, by the end of both seasons, can barely walk. He has four different viruses running through his body because he just hasn’t slept or eaten because he’s either on set, in his trailer writing, or editing an episode. He also has a family. How he does it, I have no idea. I love working with John. He’s a great guy and a brilliant, brilliant writer.

John and Rob Thomas and Dan Etheridge and I, we’ve all been friends for years. And Paul Rudd as well, who also created the show. We’ve all just been hanging out for years. And long before Veronica Mars we all were buddies. So, when they were making their homemade version of the Party Down pilot, we made it Rob’s backyard. They just called and asked if I wanted to do it; called Ken and Jane. We all just kind of jumped in and did just because we all knew each other. All of that is really fun because we’re friends. It kind of lends itself to the right kind of creativity and collaboration.

Televisionary: Is the atmosphere similar or different on Parks and Recreation?

Adam Scott: Atmosphere-wise it’s exactly the same. I mean the thing about Party Down that I love; it’s the reason I was so trepidatious to move on and do anything else is we all love it. We all built it together, you know? It’s something we made with our hands. It’s ours and we’re all enormously proud of it. We love going to work. Even on people’s days off, they swing by and hang out.

The surprising thing about Parks and Rec is it’s the same thing. People, on their days off, are coming by and just saying hi. It’s very collaborative. Everyone’s chiming in with their ideas. The craft service table is much nicer. There are these big fancy sets and everything, which we never had. We were driving around to different veteran’s homes in the Valley to shoot our episodes. Parks and Rec has a beautiful set on a lot in Studio City. So, it’s the same spirit and the same atmosphere. It’s very comforting and terrific. They make us a really hilarious show at Parks and Rec that to me feels homemade and built together much like Party Down does. So, it’s actually much less of a transition than I was expecting.

Televisionary: What can you tell us about Ben, your character on Parks and Recreation?

Adam Scott: What I can tell you is Rob and I come in together and we’re state auditors. We come in to oversee the budget and the budget crisis that may be happening in Pawnee.

Jace Lacob: Is it difficult coming into a series that’s already established? Is it difficult at all when it’s already been on the air for two seasons?

Adam Scott: No. I’m sure with some shows it may be. But with Parks everybody’s super cool and very welcoming. I couldn’t ask for a nicer group of people. So, not at all. It’s been really fun and very easy. Everybody’s super sweet. It’s a dream job.

Jace Lacob: Which job do you think is worse: being a cater-waiter or working in local government?

Adam Scott: That’s a good question. Boy, there are cons and cons to both of them. Probably being a cater-waiter. I think there’s a certain level of humiliation to both. But I think that with government, at the end of the day, if you get a drinking fountain installed in a playground that’s something you can look at and show people and say, “I did that.” Where as with cater-waitering, I don’t know. It’s a tough job. My hat’s off to anyone who can do it.

Season Two of Party Down premieres tonight at 10 pm ET/PT on Starz.


Hadley said…
I'm very torn because I'm a fan of both Party Down AND Parks & Rec. So, I'm very sad to see Scott leaving Party Down but excited to see him on Parks & Rec. So many conflicting feelings!

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