Interview: Adam Scott Wants Everyone There For ‘The Overnight’

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CHICAGO – Adam Scott has become familiar to audiences through his five year run as Ben Wyatt on TV’s “Parks and Recreation,” but he is also creating a presence on the big screen, with various supporting roles in big films (“The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”) and his latest comedy, “The Overnight.”

“The Overnight” is an exaggerated and very funny truth story about marriage, sexuality and understanding the relationship to one’s self. Two couples, portrayed by Adam Scott, Taylor Schilling, Jason Schwartzman and Judith Godréche, start with a simple planned dinner party, and that gathering devolves into a substance-fueled debauchery which lasts through the night. Each individual learns a bit about themselves during the events, and Adam Scott’s character is particularly willing to participate in that change.

Adam Scott,Taylor Schilling
Adam Scott and Taylor Schilling in ‘The Overnight’
Photo credit: The Orchard

Scott was born in California, and after graduating from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Pasadena, he broke into television on the series “Boy Meets World” in 1994 (and came back the next season for three episodes). After doing a number of recurring roles in TV shows like “Party of Five” and “Eastbound & Down,” he landed on “Parks and Recreation” in 2010. Scott has also familiar at the movies, doing character parts in “Star Trek: First Contact,” “The Aviator,” “Knocked Up,” “Step Brothers” and “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.” He is also the creator of the hilarious send-ups of TV show theme openings on the Cartoon Network Adult Swim miniseries, “The Greatest Event in Television History.”

On the day “The Overnight” opened in Chicago, Adam Scott spoke to about the various issues brought up in the film. ‘The Overnight,’ interestingly enough, had a lot to say about modern marriage and fidelity. In your opinion, have the lengthening of our lives, and the options that are available to a modern human being, made the notion of marriage less relevant as an institution than ever before?

Adam Scott: I know that it’s thought of differently than it used to be. If we look at more success in marriage these days, it’s because people are waiting longer to do it. I still think it is relevant, but has a different definition, and the parameters are different. This is as much a film about California, and the hidden corners of it, than it was about the foursome in the film. What element of ‘The Overnight’ best represents the zeitgeist of the Golden State?

Scott: The funny thing about California, is that if you move in 40 or 50 miles from the ocean coast, California more like the middle of Colorado. It’s a huge land mass, but the cultural influence of the state is focused on the coastal cities. The film is more of a good barometer regarding the hipster culture, and that doesn’t just exist in Los Angeles. I was just in Cleveland recently, and there are pockets in that city that look like Silver Lake [California] or Brooklyn. That culture has permeated every city. What type of background did you envision your character Alex having? And did you give him a characteristic that you developed that nobody on the production knew, and how did that play out on screen?

Scott: I pictured Alex as a tech guy, coming from Seattle. The situation in the film is that he’s moving down to Los Angeles without a job, but will care for his son while his wife works. His is sort of a ‘Beta’ male, and Jason’s character is the ‘Alpha’ he’s looking for, and in a male friendship sense makes him most comfortable.

Adam Scott,Taylor Schilling, Jason Schwartzman
Adam Scott and Taylor Schilling With Jason Schwartzman in ‘The Overnight’
Photo credit: The Orchard The film also tests the border between heterosexuality and homosexuality, among its other quirks. Do you think beyond our hard wiring that we are all bisexual in a sense, and doesn’t the direction we go just based on the degree of the inherent needs within us?

Scott: I don’t know if we’re all inherently bisexual. Everybody is different, and sexually is more fluid. Culturally, I think, we’re finally catching up to it. What I like about the film is that it does treat sexuality in that fluid way, and where the characters end up by the end is a really honest place, and are more aware of who they actually are. You were asked to represent the size of the private part of the male anatomy that most guys consider a taboo subject. What was that like, in the context of how you built your character, and what was the process of the ‘fitting’ of the prosthetic device that you and Jason wore to represent your ‘sizes’?

Scott: We had to wear those things, and were nervous about it, but once we had them on it we were far more comfortable than was anticipated. It was just like having an interesting pair of shorts on. We were just kind of sauntering around the set, because even though we looked like we were naked, we weren’t.

It was interesting to represent the feeling of the inadequacy, because it just hadn’t been talked about in movies before. I thought it was beautifully written and intriguing. It’s great when you can get script material that hasn’t been trod upon over and over. I’ve interviewed Jason Schwartzman, and found him to be an open and caring individual. How important is it to trust a fellow actor in a film like ‘The Overnight,’ to achieve what the film wants to accomplish?

Scott: It’s really important. Jason and I didn’t know each other particularly well, but had been looking for something to do together for awhile. It was great, because there was that trust, and in doing the film we became fast buddies. He brought so much to the character, which could have come across as creepy. The way he portrays it immediately answers the question, ‘why do these people stick around all night’? Well, Jason and Judith’s characters are two lovely and charming people. I was lucky to work with him.

Adam Scott
Adam Scott in Chicago, June 26th, 2015
Photo credit: Patrick McDonald for Since this is a theme in the film, do you think people sexually identify themselves by the era that they grew up in? Given when you were born, and when you came of age, how do you think it shaped your worldview regarding sex?

Scott: My wife and I were talking about this recently, that even only seven years ago, there was Proposition 8 in California [a voter referendum to eliminate gay marriage], an evil piece of legislation. It was just struck down two years ago. At the time, we thought it was medieval, and now it just sounds plain silly.

We’ve caught up to it culturally, and it culminated in the Supreme Court decision today [legalizing gay marriage in all 50 states]. The shift happened so rapidly. It’s wonderful, and gives us a lot of faith in this country, that we can culturally and legislatively make such progress. As far as coming of age in a particular era, I think about my kids and where they will be in thirty years, and how much more progress we will have culturally. You’ve been on big movie sets, and smaller independent features. What characteristics on how a director runs a set makes you the most comfortable? And do you think that comfort affects the result of the film?

Scott: What I’ve observed, is that no matter how big or expensive the movie set is, it comes down to just one thing – the camera, the actors and the director. Everything around that basic set up tells you the size of the production, and through the storm of money, the basic elements are all that matters. It’s either happening or not happening at that core. We made this film in 12 days, and I’ve worked on stuff that takes five months to make, but at the center of it all is the camera, the actors and the director. I find that what is similar is more interesting than what the differences are. If you were an actor during the golden age of the 1970s and ‘80s television shows that you honor in ‘The Greatest Event in Television History,’ would you have liked to do a sitcom or a drama, and why?

Scott: ‘Simon & Simon’ was the first one we did, and that was because of my genuine love for that show, and how it influenced me as a kid. I love those action detective shows from that era. Those shows are a bit dated now, and sometimes hard to watch, but Gerald McRaney did great work on that show. I heard he saw our tribute piece, and thought it was funny.

”The Overnight” continues its limited release in Chicago on June 26th. See local listings for theaters and show times. Featuring Adam Scott, Jason Schwartzman, Taylor Schilling and Judith Godréche. Written and directed by Patrick Brice. Rated “R” senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

Writer, Editorial Coordinator

© 2015 Patrick McDonald,

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