Adam Scott Is Surprised He Got That Indie Spirit Nomination, Too

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When the nominations for the Independent Spirit Awards were announced a few days ago, some of the names people expected to see in the Best Actor (like Michael Stuhlbarg for A Serious Man or Hal Holbrook for That Evening Sun) were left off the list, replaced instead by a name no one saw coming: Adam Scott, for playing an erudite misanthrope in Lee Toland Krieger's The Vicious Kind. Don't worry, though -- as Scott told Movieline, he's just as surprised as you are.

After playing roles in The Aviator, Step Brothers, and Tell Me You Love Me, the 36-year-old actor's had a great run of late. In addition to The Vicious Kind (which debuts this Friday), he's got the lead on the much buzzed-about comedy Party Down, and he also happens to figure into a popular Funny or Die short that premiered just last week. Is Adam Scott having a moment? He told me all about it.

First of all, congratulations.

Thanks. I'm...still not sure how that happened.

A lot of industry watchers weren't predicting that nomination. How surprising was it for you?

It was startling. I mean, I'm over the moon about it, but we weren't expecting either nomination for the movie because we haven't been released yet. It's this minuscule movie with no publicity machine really behind us at all, so it was a very, very pleasant surprise and a giant honor.

And what perfect timing, right?

Yeah! It comes out this Friday, and hopefully that'll get some more people to check it out.

Your character Caleb is pretty brutal to all the other people in the movie. How do you pitch your performance so you can get away with saying those things?

When I read it, I thought the script was really funny, and I told Lee that when we first met each other. We agreed, but oddly, no one else thought it was funny. Everyone who read it just thought it was this dark drama, and he wrote it thinking it was humorous. I think we both recognized that this movie would not work unless you could laugh at it a little bit -- you wouldn't be able to swallow the movie or buy the character unless you found him maybe a little charming. The way I initially thought of it was that there's something aristocratic about the character and how he thinks of himself and his place in the world. From an outsider's perspective, they may think he's an embittered loser living in a small town like a hermit, not really talking to anyone, but I think the way the character sees himself is that he's on top of the world looking down at everyone else. I thought he should feel that he's always dressing up, that everyone else in the world is such slobs but he always has a nice shirt and slacks on.

It's like instead of going to the city, he wants to see himself as the big fish in a little pond.

Yeah, absolutely. He's scared shitless of the outside world, that's why he's hiding out from his family and the entire world. He's bottled himself up in this hovel of a town.

Caleb gets immediately regretful when he does some of his most unconscionable things. Do you feel the same way as an actor when you're forced to manhandle Brittany Snow at the supermarket and call her some really vile names?

Yeah, I did, and she's so brave in that scene. I felt terrible! Like, she's crying, and her tears are streaming down her face and running down the fingers I'm squeezing her face with. I mean, it's horrible. I felt like a terrible asshole, but I think that's good, because that's what I was supposed to feel like. The character is losing himself in a misplaced rage -- a lot of what he says is very misogynistic, but I think it's another layer of garbage that he's hiding behind. I don't think he's a misogynistic person at all.

You have some very interesting love scenes in this film. Which was the most uncomfortable to shoot recently: the one in this movie where you're taking pictures of yourself banging a prostitute, the one in the pilot of Tell Me You Love Me where Sonya Walger graphically jerks you off, or the one for Funny or Die where Rachel Bilson uses a hairy body double?

[Laughs] I just got an email from Sonya Walger this week -- she said she just saw the Funny or Die video, and she was getting Tell Me You Love Me flashbacks from watching it. I have to say, it was much more pleasant doing those Tell Me You Love Me scenes with her than it was doing them with the director Jake from the Funny or Die video, because that's who I was really doing them with, not Rachel.

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