Inside Indie Spotlight: Adam Scott Mines an Unhappy Childhood for Comedy in 'A.C.O.D.'

Adam Scott in "A.C.O.D."

The "Parks and Rec" star tells THR how he looked to "Flirting With Disaster" and "About a Boy" to strike the film's delicate balance of pathos and laughs.

Actor Adam Scott saw an opportunity in A.C.O.D. -- one big enough to step up and become the movie's executive producer. It's a move that's becoming increasingly popular for actors escaping the studio system to track down meatier material. But what did the extra assignment mean for Scott?

"The main thing that I did as executive producer was get Amy Poehler to be in A.C.O.D.,” he jokes, but only kind of.

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For A.C.O.D.-- an acronym for “Adult Children of Divorce” -- Scott and writer-director Stu Zicherman (TV's Lights Out, Six Degrees) assembled a dream cast of comedic talent, including Poehler, Richard Jenkins, Catherine O'Hara, Clark Duke, Jane Lynch, Jessica Alba and Mary Elizabeth Winstead.

Zicherman takes full advantage of his cast, bouncing the ensemble off of Scott's Carter, the titular A.C.O.D., as the character struggles to keep a dysfunctional family together during the planning stages of his brother's wedding. Scott stepping up to EP was Zicherman's sign of support that he could go to town when it came time to film.

"Being that [Adam] is in every scene in the movie and when the idea of making him a producer came up, I was so happy that he wanted to do that,” the director says. “When you're going to shoot something like this in 24 days, you want your leading actor who's in every frame of the movie to be invested."

It helped that both Zicherman and Scott were real-life children of divorce, albeit with two distinct histories. “Adam's family was very amicable. He doesn't have any of the disastrous memories I have. But we were able to talk the same language about it. There's no kid in the world who goes through divorce and doesn't look back at it wondering how it affected them,” Zicherman says.

The film is less a wacky divorce comedy than it is a biting look at one man's personal journey after surviving a less-than-idyllic childhood. “He's the grown-up of his entire family,” Scott says of his character. “Slowly through the movie, we see him turn back into a kid and lose control completely.”

How did that affect the actor's approach to the role? “I had to wear boxer briefs. When I play people who are not quite as mature, I wear plain old boxers," jokes Scott.

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Scott praises David O. Russell's Flirting With Disaster, a film he recalls seeing three times in the theater and one that sprang to mind when mulling over A.C.O.D.. The script struck him as dramatically compelling and ripe for laughs. Finding that harmony was Zicherman's greatest challenge.

“It couldn't be a straight comedy, like a Will Ferrell comedy,” he says. “It had to be something that was grounded. So I talked to my friends [Chris Weitz and Paul Weitz] who directed About a Boy, a movie I really admired the tone of. They had suggested a few things. With Adam in the lead, we had a great opportunity to strike that balance.”

What, Ferrell's Step Brothers -- in which Scott costarred -- wasn't grounded?

"Maybe the most grounded movie in film history,” the actor deadpans.

Twitter: @misterpatches