“A.C.O.D.” is an abbreviation for Adult Children of Divorce and the movie stars Adam Scott as Carter, a man who suffered through his parents’ bitter divorce as a child. Now as an adult, he owns a restaurant and appears to be a well-adjusted person despite what he has been through. But then his younger brother Trey (Clark Duke) informs him that he has just gotten engaged, he asks Carter to see if they can get their parents, Hugh (Richard Jenkins) and Melissa (Catherine O’Hara), to come to the wedding. This proves to be quite a challenge as neither Hugh nor Melissa can stand to be in the same room with one another, and this leads to a number of surprises that no one sees coming.
Scott started off as a dramatic actor, but in recent years he has proven to be quite adept at doing comedy. He starred in the movie “Friends with Kids” opposite Jon Hamm and Kristen Wiig, and he has given memorable performances in “The Aviator,” “Knocked Up” and “Torque.” Many still remember him best for his roles on the television series “Party Down” as failed actor Henry Pollard who rejoins a catering company and on “Parks and Recreation” where he plays the competent but socially awkward government official Ben Wyatt. The star of that show, Amy Poehler, also appears in “A.C.O.D.” as Carter’s stepmother Sondra.
I got to participate in a roundtable interview with Scott when he was at the SLS Hotel in Los Angeles, California for the “A.C.O.D.” press conference, and he talked about working with Clark Duke and Amy Poehler, and he also gave us an update on Ben Stiller’s upcoming adaptation of “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.”
Adam you were terrific in this movie as the exasperated older brother. What was it like working with Amy Poehler who plays your bitchy stepmother?
Adam Scott: Thank you. It was really, really fun because usually we’re just making googly eyes at each other on “Parks and Recreation,” so it was just fun to hate each other’s guts. I remember when I asked her to do it. I just said, “Would you like to come play my stepmother? Don’t worry, we’re the same age” (we are the same age in real life). Luckily she said yeah. It was really, really exciting that she would even consider doing it. It’s just always fun working with Amy in whatever capacity. Sometimes I do yard work for her (laughs).
How much of this movie was improvised and how much of it was scripted?
Adam Scott: The movie is pretty much all scripted. There’s not much improvisation at all in the movie. It was just a really strong script. There was no need for improvisation and there wasn’t much time to mess around just because we had to shoot the whole thing so quickly.
When you are playing a character like Carter, how do you keep him grounded in reality?
Adam Scott: I think the script is very grounded in reality. We could all relate to certain bits of it so I think it all starts with that. And the atmosphere and tone that Stu Zicherman (the co-writer and director) was setting with the movie was a very real and grounded one.
There is a lot of family dysfunction to be found in this movie, but the relationship your character has with Trey is one of the more tame, genuine relationships of brotherly love. How did you go about establishing that chemistry and working together?
Adam Scott: We never even talked about it, but I think that Clark and I just sort of get along in regular life so that just kind of carries over.
And does Clark also help out with Amy Poehler’s yard work?
Adam Scott: Yes, we all work full-time for Amy at her mansion. Clark and I are in charge of all of her wigs (laughs).
How did this project come to you and what was it about it that spoke to you?
Adam Scott: I just read it and immediately wanted to do it back I guess it was now a couple of years ago. I just thought it was really funny. It reminded me of “Flirting with Disaster” which is one of my favorite movies. I thought it was really smart and really funny, and I was already a fan of Ben Karlin (the movie’s co-writer) and Stu. I didn’t even hesitate. I just tried to get the job immediately and at that point there was no cast signed on to it, so it was sort of a steady stream of these wonderful surprises of amazing people they were getting to fill out the rest of the roles.
Ken Howard plays Melissa’s current husband Gary in the movie. What was it like having the President of the Screen Actors Guild on set?
Adam Scott: Super scary. He carries a pistol (laughs). He deputized Clark and I during filming and we each got a firearm.
What are you working on next?
Adam Scott: I’m doing “Hot Tub Time Machine 2” with Clark, “Parks and Recreation” starts this month, and then I’m in “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” which comes out on Christmas.
Regarding “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” have you seen the original movie before coming into this one?
Adam Scott: Yeah I saw it years ago and loved it. This is very, very different from the original for sure. The story itself (written by James Thurber) is so short that any movie that’s made out of it is going to have to wildly extrapolate from what it was. It’s a really, really, really good movie.