For Adam Scott, a childhood birthday party may have been one of the biggest moments of his young life. Why? He received an Imperial ship from “Star Wars.”
“I was pretty blown away that this girl that I barely knew got me this badass ‘Star Wars’ spaceship,” says the 40-year-old “A.C.O.D.” star, who also plays Ben Wyatt on NBC’s “Parks and Recreation.” “I think I was so young that [whether she had feelings for me or not] wouldn’t have even registered. I think I was just like ‘This person is OK in my book from now on.’”
In the comedy “A.C.O.D.” (short for Adult Children of Divorce), opening Friday, Carter (Scott) has a much more painful b-day memory. His parents’ (Richard Jenkins, Catherine O’Hara) massive fight at his ninth birthday party scars him for years. The pain still lingers as an adult, when Carter forces his divorced folks to behave at his younger brother’s (Clark Duke) wedding. To his chagrin, they reconnect, and Carter must remind the pair why they’re better off apart.
By phone from Los Angeles, Scott—who says “it was fun hating each other’s guts for a few weeks” in regards to his “Parks and Rec” wife, Amy Poehler, playing his stepmom in “A.C.O.D.”—talked about childhood fear, modern marriage and the joy of his awesome TV show.
As “A.C.O.D.” shows yet again, you’re so good at getting frustrated with people onscreen as if your character is thinking, “You can’t be serious right now.” What makes you feel that way in everyday life?
My children get smarter and smarter every day. And kids get really smart really fast. Way faster than you think. Especially girls. So when they start manipulating you and figuring out ways around you and your rules, that’s when I’m at my most flummoxed. I’m not sure what to do, and I usually just give them what they want and try to figure it out later.
What’s a way they’ve manipulated you recently?
This morning, my son, it was very early in the morning and he figured out a way to get me to give him a piece of gum. It’s a sugary piece of gum, and it’s absolutely against the rules in our house. It’s against what I think a kid should be eating on the way to school, but he just figured out a way to get that gum from my hand into his mouth. And he won.
In the movie, Carter remembers almost drowning when he was a kid. His brother Trey was scared of spiders, shoelaces and the mailman. What’s something that scared you when you were younger?
There was a TV movie “The Atlanta Child Murders.” Do you remember that? You’re probably younger than I am, but this was on when I was in like elementary school. It was a terrifying TV movie or miniseries, but it was just on TV. And it scared the [bleep] out of me. Like for years, it was tough to function. The Atlanta child murders is a real thing; [this was] just a dumb TV movie depicting it, and it kind of destroyed me for years. I was way too young to watch something like that.
When you say “for years,” do you mean you’d have nightmares years later?
I think I just had trouble going to sleep for a really long time.
I thought you were going to say, “I just had trouble going to Atlanta.”
[Laughs] Well, that too.
“A.C.O.D.” touches on something interesting that the culture may or may not change as a generation of people who grew up with divorce gets older. What do you think the impact on the world will be as those children of divorce get older?
I think that I see now with my generation, I know a lot of people waited a lot longer to get married. Those who did get married waited a little bit longer because a lot of us grew up with divorce, and so I see people making much more measured decisions about marriage and children and stuff like that just because we’ve seen how the generation before us got started a lot earlier with marriage, family and all of that. Just because culturally it was the norm. They saw it backfire for some people, so I think the difference behaviorally and culturally is people are waiting a lot longer now.
Do you think that will make the divorce rate go down?
I don’t know. That’s a good question. Have divorce rates gone down? I don’t think they have. The fact remains that people aren’t getting married as early by and large these days.
I think the first time I saw you was on “Boy Meets World.” What would you think if someone called you up for the new series “Girl Meets World” and said, “We want to bring Griff back”?
[Laughs] That would be hilarious.