With his 50th birthday a month away, Santa Cruz native Adam Scott has cemented himself in the show-biz firmament as a contemporary everyman, from “Parks and Rec” to “Severance” to the current Starz reboot of “Party Down,” in which he first starred in 2009.
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As this fascinating piece published last week in Slate makes clear, Santa Cruz-born and Harbor High graduate Adam Scott has not only worked his way onto the Hollywood A-list, but he’s created a niche, a recognizable contemporary everyman role that’s become his calling card.
Our own favorite son actor is back in the spotlight now because of the unlikely reemergence of “Party Down,” the little-seen but beloved sitcom starring Scott before he landed his career-making role as Ben Wyatt on NBC’s “Parks and Recreation.”
“Party Down” — in which Scott co-starred with such familiar faces as Jane Lynch, Martin Starr, Jennifer Coolidge and others — revolved around a group of hangers-on and never-weres in the Los Angeles entertainment industry working for a catering company. The show debuted in 2009, but lasted until only 2010 (at which point Scott joined the cast of “Parks and Rec”). Now, 13 years after its last episode, “Party Down” has been rebooted, with Scott returning in the lead role.
I interviewed Scott — who turns 50 in April — a couple of times early in his Hollywood career, and specifically just as “Party Down” was getting off the ground. I was first tipped off to him a few years before that by his mom, the late Anne Scott Chambers, who always kept me informed of Adam’s adventures in L.A.
His story is amazing, from the moment when he first tentatively ventured into Cathy Warner’s drama classes at Harbor High, to the time when he jumped into the acting profession with both feet, fresh out of high school.
“I didn’t know a soul,” he told me back in ’09. “Out of sheer blind faith and ambition and not knowing any better, I just moved [to Los Angeles] thinking that I could be a movie star. I just didn’t know.”
It took Scott a solid decade before he started getting traction with his acting career. Before that, he was flailing as an ambitious unknown looking for a break. In 2009, he remembered a particularly surreal moment in his early career.
“I found myself on this music-video set with this caveman costume on. I remember being in the audience with this fur toga on, and this weird brown wig and dancing to some rock band on stage. ‘OK,’ I’m thinking, ‘I’m an extra.’ I called [my agent] on the phone still wearing this silly costume, saying, ‘Am I doing extra work?’ And she said, ‘No, no, honey, this is acting.’”
Now, of course, Scott is a bonafide heavyweight, vaulted into stardom by “Parks and Rec,” appearing in many movies, and most recently shining in the lead role in Apple TV’s psychological drama “Severance.”
Ironically, his role in “Party Down” is as a struggling actor getting nowhere until he decided to just quit show business, an option that Adam himself never chose. “I only got where I am now because I just never left,” he said. “The main thing I have in my corner is that I just stuck around.”
The reboot of “Party Down” is available on Starz and streaming on Hulu.