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Adam Scott on His Much-Discussed Nude Scene in The Overnight —and the Appeal of the Duplass Brothers

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Actor Adam Scott attends the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. ©Sundance Institute | Stephen Speckman

Jeremy Kinser

For the past two decades, Adam Scott has steadily built an impressive resume of appealing performances on both the small screen in cult series like Party Down and Tell Me You Love Me, and in mainstream studio films such as The Aviator and Monster-in-Law.

Probably best-known for his winning portrayal of Ben Wyatt in the recently departed NBC sitcom Parks and Recreation, Scott has also become a regular at the Sundance Film Festival over the years with his work in comedies such as 2011’s Our Idiot Brother, 2012’s Bachelorette, and last year’s A.C.O.D. The 41-year-old actor has two films at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival: The Overnight, Patrick Brice’s comedy about two couples whose innocent playdate leads to sexual hi-jinks and Sleeping with Other People, which reunites him with Bachelorette director Leslye Headland.

Scott spoke with Sundance about the intense interest in his nude scene in The Overnight, his move to producing and the appeal of working with the Duplass brothers.

What appealed to you about The Overnight? What was interesting about this particular story?

I just thought it was a fascinating little slice of life about a couple of people who are confronted with a reexamination of their lives and how they feel about themselves at a time when they were not expecting it. I just thought it was really, really interesting with terrific characters and fun writing.

It’s a very smart and surprising comedy, but a lot of the post-screening chatter is focused on your and Jason Schwartzman’s nude scene. Did you guys expect it to get so much attention?

No, no, I didn’t actually. I can see why, though. It’s pretty stark. When I was watching it on a big screen in a theater full of people I was like, “Oh, right, we did that.” [Laughs] I really loved the scene. I think the movie wouldn’t work without it. It’s not gratuitous. It’s a huge story shift and a huge moment for the characters.

Your character is somewhat anatomically challenged and you wear a prosthetic penis in the scene. How involved were you in choosing your own prosthetic?

My wife [Naomi], who also produced the movie, and I looked at photos, but Patrick the director had the final say. We all went through a lot of photos.

You have a producer credit on The Overnight as you did on last year’s A.C.O.D. What are some of the benefits of producing films you also star in?

It’s great to be creatively involved in more ways than just acting. I love filmmaking in every way. It’s nice to watch something grow from an embryonic stage to coming to Sundance. It’s a fascinating process. This one is near and dear to my heart because it started with a laptop and a phone in our kitchen and here we are less than a year latter. It’s such a great feeling.

Adam Scott and Taylor Schilling in ‘The Overnight.’

You also have a role in Sleeping With Other People. It must be exciting to have two films premiere in the festival this year.

It’s great. It’s a rare thing to have two films here. I’m proud to be in both movies.

How has Sundance changed over the years for you?

The festival still feels very similar. It has the same beating heart it’s always had. All the hoopla and all the parties and gift lounges will always be here, but the beating heart is the people who love movies, and that will never change.

The Duplass brothers are having quite a year. You’ve directed Mark in a comedy short, and he’s produced The Overnight. Why are they such It boys right now?

They’re very high quality. They make great stuff. You can trust those guys and their brand. It’s a dependable brand.

Which other films are you excited to see this year?

I’m excited to see Going Clear. I want to see The D Train. There are a lot of them, but I haven’t had time to sit down and figure out which ones I’m going to see.


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Sundance Institute Piloting Direct Individual Support for Mediamakers Through the Sundance Institute | Humanities Sustainability Fellowship

Long before the COVID-19 pandemic upended life in general, and halted production and distribution for many creatives, the nonfiction field was plagued by issues of sustainability. For several years, sustainability has been an urgent and vigorous topic of study, debate, and organizing, as more and more filmmakers find it difficult, if not impossible, to make a living solely on the basis of their creative work. 

In Memoriam: Diane Weyermann (1955–2021)

A singular force within the documentary film world with a global reach, Diane Weyermann passed away at age 66 after battling cancer. Over the course of her 30-year career as a funder and an executive, her work elevated the documentary form and expanded its cultural impact.

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