For years now, Adam Scott has been tickling our hearts and making us laugh. From endearingly awkward roles like Ben Wyatt on Parks and Rec or Henry Pollard in Party Down to his brilliantly memorable comedic performances in movies like Stepbrothers, or his forays into dramas like The Vicious Kind, we thought we’d seen all of Scott. But with his latest role in Patrick Brice’s The Overnight, we’re about to see a whole lot more of him — and not only because he spends a portion of the film naked.
Starring Scott alongside Jason Schwartzman and Taylor Schilling, Brice’s new dinner party farce meets progressive sex comedy, The Overnight, follows what happens when two Los Angeles couples share an unexpected, wild evening. As we noted in our interview with the director and Schilling: “What begins as a neighborly pizza get-together swiftly turns into a naked (both literally and emotionally) exploration of their relationships—both with their partners and with themselves. Add in some wine, some weed, some skinny-dipping, and a few bottles of champagne and you’ve got one of the most entertaining comedies to emerge on the independent film circuit in a long time, and one that’s as intelligent and cinematically minded as it is scintillating.”
As the reserved father Alex, Scott’s character goes through perhaps the biggest transformation in the film when he’s lured out of his shell by Schwartzman’s sexually curious and compassionate Kurt. We watch him through various staging of inebriation and the emotional roller coaster that ensues when he’s forced to confront his personal body issues head on—allowing for Scott to give a wonderful performance that’s as hilarious as it is genuine. Not only the star, Scott produced the film along with his wife Naomi Scott — just one of the many projects on their roster as a budding comedic force.
After premiering at Sundance in January, The Overnight will finally have its theatrical premiere this weekend. For the occasion, we chatted with Scott about his initial reservations on the role, playing opposite Schwartzman, and the psychological barrier of wearing a prosthetic penis.
What was your reaction the first time you read the script? Were you excited by the prospect of stepping outside your usual comfort zone?
Yeah, it seemed frightening. I was kind of creeped out by Jason’s character. When you read scripts and it’s far-off you never think it’ll actually happen, so I was all in thinking there was a 10% chance this could happen. So when it came together, I was like, “Oh no, I actually have to do all of this.” But I’m really glad that we did it even though it was little nerve-wracking because it’s a really entertaining, funny movie and a crowd-pleaser. When we screened it for groups of people, there were laughs and stuff, but Patrick also sneaks in a lot of interesting stuff into the movie too that subverts the laughs.
It’s a funny and entertaining movie, but there’s a lot more going on behind that. It deals with sexuality in a really open, honest, and curious way.
I was a little freaked out by the frankness of it. The touchy-feely nature of Kurt creeped me out, and I think it’s great that it did.
Did you know Jason would be playing Kurt?
No, we didn’t know who would play that part, but we were really lucky to get him.
Were you two friends before, because you had a really great chemistry and energy together.
It just worked, you know, sometimes it just clicks. Jason and Taylor are both really fun actors, so we were very lucky. Taylor came on pretty early, about four to six months before we started shooting, which was Naomi’s idea. We figured we’d never get her, but we were lucky she liked the script and wanted to do it.
How did you feel about getting naked—well, naked aside from your prosthetic genitalia.
I was trepidatious about all of it — both the emotional content and the nudity. I was like, “Do we have to show the penises? Who cares?” I was afraid of all of it. But I think that’s because it’s just not dealt with often; it’s just not something you see in movies. You don’t see it, and you don’t really hear about the emotional devastation that comes with having a small penis discussed. I was just afraid of it, and I’m glad we just dove in because it’s a really interesting subject matter. The nudity definitely gave me pause, and putting a prosthetic penis on was weird because it looks real, so you might as well be naked. It did feel like I was naked, because for all intents and purposes I am, but for whatever reason, there is a psychological barrier there. It’s not your penis, it’s a fake one, so we both felt a lot more comfortable.
How much improvising did you get to do on set? The scene when you’re in the room with all the asshole paintings, you two were so funny and had such a natural repoire with each other — was that totally on book or were you two riffing off one another?
There’s a lot of improvisation in the movie. It’s kind of peppered throughout. It was really loose on set, and definitely the scene with the paintings was a lot of that. It’s a great way to work; you can chose the stuff that works and get rid of the stuff that doesn’t.
As someone whose married with a child yourself, could you relate to your character at all and see yourself in him?
Once you’re married and have kids, you’re more set in who you are, where you fit into the world, and how you look at the world. For this character, it all gets turned upside down in a matter of a few hours. It’s a complete revelation to him that there’s this whole other life he could be living. I related to the character, and I’m at that age where I feel like I know who I am and how I fit into the world. So I had to ask myself how I would react if that were to all turn upside down.
Working with a small cast in such a condensed period of time, did you find that an exciting change from your work on TV and in other films?
It was exciting because you don’t get a lot of takes. You just sort of let it all out there and try to get one that feels right. You have to keep moving on, and we’re all sort of figuring it out as we go. There’s a real finality to it, so it’s exciting working that way. But also I like working where you have plenty of time and you can really explore everything and make sure you have it right. Doing it the other way is exciting though and it really benefitted this movie too — flying from the seat of our pants.
Throughout the course of the movie you play different stages of being drunk and high; I assume that’s a very controlled art. Do you find it difficult, because if done poorly it could be very bad.
It’s kind of hard, and you don’t want to do it badly. You try to remember what it’s like and try not to be too hammy or stupid. I always feel like when people are drunk it’s just an exaggerated version of themselves. Usually when people are drunk, they try to make it seem like they’re not drunk, so reading into it too much is sometimes a mistake. Hopefully I don’t ham it up too much and make it seem real.
You’ve got new TV shows in the works and movies coming out, but do you plan on being behind the scenes and producing more as well?
We sold a show with Joe Mand to NBC, so we’re in the beginning stages of trying to put that together. We have a movie we’re going to try to shoot over the summer that I’m not in, and other TV things we’re trying to put together. We’re staying very busy, it’s great.
Does your work as an actor and your knowledge of the industry from that end make you a better producer?
Yeah, I think just by proxy. Being on set for so many years, you get an idea of how things should work. You kind of discern what’s the right way of doing things. Applying all that experience is good.