Out Friday in limited release, "Friends With Kids" finds Scott playing Jason, a single New Yorker who decides to have a child with his platonic best friend (Jennifer Westfeldt, who also wrote and directed the film) as a way to beat the system of love-marriage-kids. This results in a beautiful baby boy, as well as some major emotional complications. Scott spoke to Moviefone in New York on Monday about what attracted him to the new film, the possible "Party Down" movie, and why he was dressed "semi-homeless" when he met director Mike Nichols.
Was this a case of you looking for a leading role, or did Jennifer Westfeldt approach you to star? Jen didn't write it with me in mind, but she asked me to come do a reading of it at her house very early on. Right when she finished the script. I think she finished the script the day she had us reading in her house, which was two years ago. I jumped at the chance to do that. It was a great script. From there, we just did a series of readings. We did them here, during the summer. I was here working -- so we would do them in town, and we did one upstate for an audience. She had this tireless energy. She was trying to get at the heart of it, and she would ask questions of the people that would sit there and listen and watch. She was just trying to leave no stone unturned. To be honest, the script didn't really change that much because it was pretty airtight to begin with.
She mentioned a reading you did with executive producer Mike Nichols as well as Tina Fey. It was crazy. I do remember showing up for that reading -- it was at the Soho House, in one of their rooms. It was a super-hot summer day. I had been walking around running errands and stuff, and I had this reading to go to. I went, and I got there, and it was kind of a fancy room. Everyone was a little dressed up. A little bit. Like, casually dressed up for this reading. And I was in shorts and a t-shirt and totally sweaty. You know when they put four long tables together to form a square? It was Mike Nichols, Tina Fey, a bunch of fancy people, and then a bunch of people reading. Everyone had like nice clothes on, and I was just like, "Fucking Jesus, what the hell is wrong with me?" I just didn't even think about it.
Maybe they should have sent you a text. I should have known! I knew that Mike Nichols was going to be there. "What is wrong with me?" I may as well have been nude, I felt so stupid about it. But, luckily, the reading itself went well and they all liked it. But it's hard to have a reading go wrong because the script is so good -- everyone could close their eyes and it would work. Anyway, it didn't matter that I was dressed like a semi-homeless person.
One of the things I love about your character is that he's a bit of a jerk. Did that appeal to you? She wrote a great character and the more interesting the character, the more fun it is. I just liked the big change the character goes through. That really appealed to me. It was a great part -- I was lucky that Jen wanted me to do it. I reminded her many times that she could find someone far more famous than me and have a much easier time getting this thing made. I didn't get [what she saw in me]. I was like, "Just have Jon [Hamm] play the part."
You play Ben on "Parks and Recreation," one of the nicest characters on television. Do you worry that will typecast you as this nice everyman? I'm just psyched to be on the show. That's a very champagne problem -- playing this great character on the best show on television. If that's a problem... I'm just really excited to be there. I just still can't believe I'm actually on that show. It's great.
It seems like everyone's favorite show. I felt the same way before I was on the show.
Another "everyone's favorite show" was "Party Down." What's the status on the movie? Is that still coming along? Yeah, our fingers are crossed. We're hoping sooner rather than later. But, you know -- you never know.
It's probably hard to get the schedules together. Yeah, that's the tough thing. Everybody is pretty busy now, which is really nice, because when we shot the show, no one was busy. But we're all just trying to get it together. It would be really fun. Everyone is totally in; everyone wants to do it.
"Party Down" has really gained cult acclaim since going off the air. Do you worry that the expectations for the movie will be too great? That fans are setting themselves up for a disappointment? Of course. That's the biggest risk -- that you screw it up and make a shitty movie. Part of the reason the show worked is that there were no expectations and we were doing it completely in a vacuum. Even the second season, when the first season had aired, still no one knew what it was. We were just doing it because it was fun and we loved working with each other. Now that a lot of people know -- literally dozens of people know what it is -- there is going to be an expectation and we don't want to screw it up. It's happened many times, when people make a movie from a beloved television show and they fuck it up. It's happened. So I think the important thing is to not make it too big -- which I don't think would be a problem, because it's going to be a low budget thing anyway -- and not get an outside director to come in and spruce it up. Stay with what we did and just make it exactly the way we made the show, and hopefully it would keep it in a straight line.
Manage the expectations. It's not like we're going to put a car chase in or explosions. But I hope we get to do it at some point.
You're part of two of the most beloved television comedies of the last five years. Do fans approach you more about "Parks & Rec" or "Party Down"? I do get "Party Down" every day. But, I'll tell you, when we were making the show, never in a million years did we think that we would be getting recognized for "Party Down" every single day. It's all kind of icing -- on the cake -- because we never really had any expectations for it.