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Interview: Adam Scott talks 'Hot Tub Time Machine 2' and comedy as work

The actor also gives us updates on the "Party Down" movie. (Spoiler: there aren't any.)

Adam Scott wasn’t always a comedic actor. He went to drama school, had stints on “Party of Five” and “Six Feet Under,” did a sex-heavy relationship drama at HBO (“Tell Me You Love Me”) and has been in action (“Torque”), drama (“High Crimes”) and a Martin Scorsese movie (“The Aviator”). But after his turn as Will Ferrell’s douchebag corporate shark brother in “Step Brothers,” he was suddenly part of the comedy fold, appearing in the brilliant but canceled “Party Down” and the just-wrapped “Parks and Recreation.” With “Hot Tub Time Machine 2,” Scott pops up in another ongoing series, playing the son of John Cusack (who is AWOL) from the far-off future of 2024.

You’re no stranger to joining things that are already midstream. Was joining the “Hot Tub Time Machine” franchise in its first sequel any different?

I already knew Rob [Corddry], Craig [Robinson] and Clark [Duke], so it was easy. I think I said yes before t hey even wrote it. Steve [Pink], the director, just pitched me a rough idea and I said sure. It was like going to summer camp in New Orleans with your friends. It didn’t really feel like work. I feels like you’re hanging out with your friends and someone happens to be filming it. I’ve been lucky to be in a bunch of TV shows and movies that are like that. I would love to hang around and make d— jokes with Rob, Craig and Clark whether it was being filmed or not. It’s just a happy coincidence that we got a movie out of it.

But it’s not all play, though. You still have to make a movie.

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It is work. We are working 15 hour days. It is actual work, and we’re tired at the end of the day. It’s not like it was a vacation. We all worked really hard to make a good movie. We weren’t just trying to make ourselves laugh. We were always trying to find what makes the best scene. It was work, but getting able to work with your friends is the best case scenario. I’m lucky enough to have friends who are really talented and funny and really great actors. It’s just a bonus that you get to work with people you enjoy.

There’s this misconception that comedy is easy, but it seems like it could be the most stressful kind of acting, given how much it relies on timing and connecting with an audience, especially one that, in movies, is not in front of you.

Yeah, it’s not easy [laughs], at all. But it’s incredibly rewarding when you see something and it works. There’s nothing better.

You’re a serious actor who went to drama school and who was primarily doing dramatic work before you wound up doing a lot of comedy. How did making that segue feel?

It was intimidating at first. “Step Brothers” was my first dip into the comedy world. I likened it to learning how to throw the javelin at the Olympics, with cameras everywhere and the stadium filled with people as you’re with gold medalists and you’re just figuring it out. It was jumping into the deep end for sure. But you couldn’t ask for a more supportive group of people than Adam McKay and Will Ferrell and John Reilly.

Your character here is very earnest and childlike.

It’s a fun exercise in every scene to find the most oblivious route to go. I think my characters’ just happy to have some friends. He’s the kind of guy who annoys people with his curiosity and his earnest view of the world. So he doesn’t have a lot of male friends. He’s not able to tell he’s annoying the s— out of them.

This isn’t hard sci-fi, but it is a film about in which in the future not a ton has changed.

Part of that was it wasn’t like we had $80 million to make a new future. They were smart to only go 10 years, where things have changed slightly but we’re essentially the same. There’s a couple minimal ways things have changed. I feel like entertainment has definitely been degraded to the point of people just watching other people suffer on television. Generally people in the film are stupider, which I think we can probably count on.

Not to make you act as a futurist, but where do you guess TV may go in 10 years, especially considering that right now we’re living in, as many commentators have crowed, a new Golden Age in television?

I’m optimistic and I think quality always rises. I don’t think good movies and television will ever stop. Reality TV is permanent, though, and I think it’s going to keep getting crazier and crazier. I dread that, but I also look forward to it. I think there’s a part of all of us that enjoys that stuff.

It’s been awhile since anyone reported any updates about the “Party Down” movie. Not that you never get asked about it.

Yeah, I think it’s been like four days since someone asked me that in an interview. I don’t know if that will ever happen, but you never know. But no, no updates.

Follow Matt Prigge on Twitter @mattprigge
 
 
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