TORONTO – Alright moviegoers, you know who Adam Scott is. Sure, you might not know the name, but you’ll recognize the face. The 38-year-old actor has a long track record of great supporting roles in films such as “Step Brothers,” “Monster-in-Law,” last month’s “Our Idiot Brother” as well as an Independent Spirit Award nominated turn in the indie drama “The Vicious Kind.” Scott is much more familiar on the small screen, however, headlining the cast of the beloved cult comedy “Party Down” and as the “will they or won’t they” love interest of Amy Phoeler on NBC’s “Parks and Recreation.” Last Friday, Scott found himself with his most prominent film role yet in Jennifer Westfeldt’s new dramedy “Friends with Kids” which premiere at the 2011 Toronto Film Festival.
Set in modern day Manhattan, “Friends” follows good buddies Jason (Scott) and (Julie) (Westfeldt) as they try to deal with the fact their lifelong friends (producer Jon Hamm, Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Chris O’Dowd) have dramatically changed after marriage and children. Looking for a better solution which would avoid all the bitterness and marital discourse they’ve observed they decide to have a child just as “friends.” And, as you’d expect, it doesn’t go as smoothly as they thought it would.
Sitting in a Toronto hotel on Saturday, Scott was still taking in the film’s great reception the night before. Westfeldt and Hamm have been real life friends for over a decade, but Scott still feels incredibly grateful they had faith he could pull off this role.
“I know that there”s no way I would have gotten this part if I was not friends with them,” Scott remarks. “I mean, I”ve very lucky because I think that, you know, I don”t help with financing of a movie. I”m really lucky that they took a leap with me in the part and [I’m] grateful to them for doing that. I am, you know, one of those people in their lives that had kids and our friendship — not that the friendship”s over, but my wife and I didn”t get to spend as much time with them. You just don”t [after you have your own kids]. So when I read the script, I was kind of like, ‘Oh boy.’ Like, ‘Man. I”m so sorry you guys.’ But then making the movie was actually the most time I”d been able to spend with them in, you know, four years or however long it had been since we”d started having children. So it was actually kind of nice.”
Scott is pretty quiet about his private life, but admits his own social habits changed after the arrival of his own kids. He notes, “I used to be able to go out and get beers a couple of times a week. I mean, I was just, you know, do whatever the hell you want. You don”t realize when you have kids, it”s like, ‘Oh, that”s over.’ I mean, you know, you still have a life and everything, but it”s different. My life used to be a lot different. [Although] I was never quite as smooth with the ladies as Jason, unfortunately.”
As a father though, Scott knows how children can change you and how you think about the world. That’s why the dramatic elements of Westfeldt’s very funny script appealed to him. He admits, “I found it to be a really poignant movie about kids and the love they kind of bring to your life. And I just feel like my kids have enhanced my life in so many ways and have made me such a better person. And I just can”t imagine my life without them. ”
What Scott found more remarkable was that Westfeldt, who does not have children, was able to observe and chronicle moments depicted in the film he’d assumed only parents were aware of. And that includes the significant journey his character takes during the film.
“I mean, I know she did a lot of research and everything, but she really found something really special I don”t think that”s been captured before in movies,” I always found it very moving and watching how this character kind of changes through having started a family.”
Of course, one of the challenges of shooting any movie about kids is the young kids or babies that are in the movie itself. Scott’s skills as a dad were somewhat helpful, but the indie wasn’t sparred the inherent diva nature of toddlers. And, moreover, there are a lot of young kids in the film and specific scenes may remind viewers of an out of control preschool (something Westfeldt was likely going for).
“Those kids were really young,” Scott recalls. “So sometimes they were really like, ‘Fuck you! I don”t want to make a movie.’ And so every once in a while if we had to quiet a baby down or get them to stop crying or something, I would at least try. And once in a while I was successful of kind of distracting the kid. But not always. And their parents were there. And it”s challenging working with babies. I mean, the last thing they care about is whether you”re rolling or not, so, yeah, I came in handy once in a while, but I certainly wasn”t able to come through every time.”
Hopefully he can use those skills when he gets his shot toplining a new studio comedy or dramedy which should happen any day now. Especially after his work in “Kids.”
“Friends with Kids” should hit your local theater sometime in 2012. “Parks and Recreation” has its season premiere Thurs., Sept. 22.
For year round entertainment commentary follow Gregory Ellwood on Twitter @HitFixGregory.