When the nominations for 2009's Independent Spirit Awards were announced last week, a few awards-season prognosticators (including us, for a second) expressed mild surprise that some presumed shoe-ins were passed over in favor of The Vicious Kind's Adam Scott. But you know what? Screw them (and us!) — Scott is awesome and has improved the quality of some of our favorite entertainment (Party Down, Step Brothers, Eastbound & Down, Tell Me You Love Me) of the past couple of years. In advance of Friday's release of Kind — in which he plays a misanthropic construction worker who falls for his brother's girlfriend (Brittany Snow) — we spoke to the actor by phone about his Spirit nod, doing Party Down without Jane Lynch, and a little film called Piranha 3-D.
Congratulations on the Spirit Award nomination.
Well, thanks! Yeah, quite a surprise. I had no idea. I didn't even know they had seen the movie so we were all pretty startled — pleasantly so, that's for sure — but, yeah it was a giant surprise.
Your character in The Vicious Kind, Caleb Sinclaire, still comes off as a fairly likable guy, even though he does some really weird and, at times, scary things.
[Director/Writer] Lee Toland Krieger and I thought early on that we needed to try and find some sort of humor and try and make the character somewhat charming; otherwise it would be intolerable sitting there watching this thing. It was the first time I had a job where I remember saying to my wife the night before I started shooting, "If I suck in this, the whole thing doesn't work." It was the first time I had that pressure: If I don't pull it off, the whole movie will suck. Those first couple days, you see the looks from everyone — you better not suck. It's terrifying.
You were smoking a cigarette in almost every scene. Were those real or the Mad Men–style herbal cigarettes?
Those were the herbal ones. They were disgusting. They give you a headache. It vaguely tastes like pot, but all it does is make you feel terrible.
Caleb has a pretty memorable scene delivering nude photos of himself making obscene gestures while sleeping with a prostitute to his ex-girlfriend's house ...
How do you like those photos? Should I have that as my head shot? Good Lord, that poor girl. It's always awkward to shoot sex scenes. That was a particularly awkward one because of what we were doing but, at the end of the day, who gives a shit? I just wanted the actress to feel comfortable and not feel like we were exploiting her or making fun of her. I probably went overboard in trying to make sure she was okay and she probably just thought I was a smothering weirdo.
At least you didn't end the scene by borrowing your Step Brothers line, "I'm Audi 5000."
Is the Audi 5000 an actual car? Is there an Audi 5000? [In Step Brothers] we were just on the hunt for just horrible, douchey things to say.
What can we expect in Party Down's second season? You lost Jane Lynch who's now on Glee ...
We just finished shooting a week and a half ago. It's "in the can" as they say in show business. And, yeah, it's great for Jane. She's deservedly become a pop-culture icon. It's weird because we just finished shooting season one in February and she came back for the season two finale and it's like, "Wow, it was like six months ago and here you are now and people are going as you for Halloween." It's also great because we get Megan Mullally, who's incredible. She plays a stage mother and she is so fucking hilarious.
So you're not going to hold up production of season three with your new "I'm a big shot award-nominated movie star" attitude?
That would be hilarious, wouldn't it? I would love to even try doing that to Party Down and see what they would do. I will do Party Down until they tell me to just stop. It's my favorite thing to do. We are all in love with it; I hope it never ends. I know that all sounds a little melodramatic but it's true.
We are strangely fascinated by Piranha 3-D. You're not playing a sketchy jokester, are you? Those guys don't seem to last too long in films like this.
The title kind of says it all, doesn't it? No, I'm a geologist and I come to help Elisabeth Shue out with this mysterious problem that's happening at the lake. There's an earthquake, so we come to investigate the earthquake — which may have opened up a chasm at the bottom of that lake which may be where all these mysterious fish are coming from. Three-dimensional fish that will fucking tear you apart.
Is this the first 3-D killer fish since Jaws 3-D?
Maybe. I remember seeing Jaws 3-D in the movie theater as a 10-year-old. And me being a 10-year-old, I was able to discern that that was a terrible movie. So hopefully we'll be able to convince 10-year-olds otherwise. The cool thing about Piranha 3-D is that it's a popcorn movie from the planet popcorn. It's going to be hilarious and so, so gory. It's going to be awesome.