Best known for his scene stealing turns on TV’s Parks and Recreation and the dearly departed Party Down, Adam Scott proves in Friends with Kids that he works just as well on the big screen as he does on NBC’s Thursday night line-up. Written and directed by Jennifer Westfeldt, the film follows Jason (Scott) and Julie (Westfeldt), a pair of best friends who decide to raise a child together. Anchored by a stellar cast that includes Jon Hamm, Maya Rudolph, Kristin Wiig and Edward Burns, Friends with Kids is a humorous and moving look at the impact of having children. Toeing the line between comedy and drama, the film doesn’t shy away from delivering sucker punches alongside punchlines. In one scene, Scott’s Jason delivers an impassioned defense of Westfeldt’s character that will surprise anyone who thought they were wandering into a light rom-com. We caught up with Scott to talk about working with babies, surviving the New York winter and the possibility of a Party Down movie.
ELLE: Can you tell me how you got involved with the film? I read that you had been friends with Jennifer Westfeldt and Jon Hamm for a while before working on this.
ADAM SCOTT: We’ve been friends since the late nineties. She and Jon asked me to come to a table read at their house. We all just sat around and drank wine and read the script out loud, then they asked me to do it. I kept reminding them that they could easily get someone far more famous than me and have an easier time getting the movie made, but they stuck with me for whatever reason.
ELLE: You guys had a really short shooting schedule during last year’s terrible winter, and you worked with a lot of adorable, but possibly difficult babies. Did you have any logistical issues while making the film?
SCOTT: Yeah, it’s not like there are trailers for the actors. It was a low budget movie, so you’re just in this apartment with babies and toddlers. In between scenes there isn’t like a room to sit in by yourself…I remember once I fell asleep sitting on a bed and woke up and someone was applying make-up to my face, while I was sleeping. I was like ‘I need to go find a small dark space to sit in, or I’m going to kill myself.’ But that’s making an independent movie, that’s the way it is. I’ve done many of them, so I’m used to it.
ELLE: Is it easier to work with friends?
SCOTT: Oh totally, starting a few years ago I’ve clued in to the fact that it’s way better to make things with your friends than to make things with people you don’t know. It’s more fun, and it’s more familiar and comfortable. As I get older—or as I get old—I kind of realize that time is kind of precious, and I want it to be as enjoyable as possible. It’s fun to [work] with people that you love and love being around.
ELLE: This is Jennifer’s third film that she wrote and directed. Would you ever want to direct or write your own film?
SCOTT: Maybe, it’s such as a big job and the little directing I’ve done was just like a Funny or Die video. As far as a whole movie, it’s two years of solid work. Where I am, I don’t know if it would be any good frankly. I think I need a bit more experience before I do my own thing. But I would love to at some point.
ELLE: Do you think you would start out doing something on Parks and Recreation?
SCOTT: I would be nervous directing the actors on that show because they’re better than I am. So me suggesting something to them would be absurd.
ELLE: You mentioned that a lot of this movie came together through different readings with Jennifer Westfeldt, while she worked on the script. After seeing different versions of this story did anything surprise you when you saw it onscreen?
SCOTT: Just watching the film come together into one story was really surreal. It’s one thing when you’re just [in a few] scenes of a movie and you’re like, ‘Oh yeah, that’s great they were making that movie, and I was doing that.’ But when you’re shooting the whole thing out of order, and you’re there every single day, you’re like ‘Oh my God, this actually makes sense!’ It was all chaos in my mind. She did a great job.
ELLE: I have to ask about Party Down and if you think it is going to live on in some capacity?
SCOTT: Well we’re trying to get a movie together, hopefully we’ll get it made sooner rather than later. We’re just all crossing our fingers that it will happen very, very soon.
ELLE: If Arrested Development can pull it off, I think you guys can do it.
SCOTT: I’m very excited for Arrested Development, [but] the risk with making a movie about a TV show that was good is that then you screw it up. We just don’t want to screw it up. We want it to be as good or better than the show was. That’s the big challenge, of not ruining everyone’s memory of it by making a shitty movie.
ELLE: You’ve had a great run over the past few years with Party Down and Parks and Recreation. What are you looking for in roles now?
SCOTT: I just try to find things that I can bring something to and be good in and not suck. [I try to] find people that I really want to work with. I’m going to work with Ben Stiller on a movie this summer and I’m super excited about that. The Ben Stiller Show was a really important show for me back when it was on Fox in 1992…It’s surreal to talk to Ben Stiller. I still can’t believe he knows who I am, but he totally does and it’s awesome.