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Adam Scott stars in ‘Party Down,’ joins ‘Parks and Recreation’

In the acclaimed Starz comedy series “Party Down,” now in its second season, Adam Scott plays Henry Pollard, a former actor working as a team leader for an L.A. catering company.

Henry had scored one big success as the star of a beer commercial, but then he couldn’t get arrested. He’s accepted the fact that he already had his chance at the brass ring and dropped it. However, Henry’s co-workers are still chasing their pipe dreams, hoping to become the next big actor or screenwriter.

Scott, 37, never had to toil as a waiter or work for a catering company when he was a struggling newbie in Hollywood. But he did some humiliating extra work.

“I was an extra in a Tia Carrere music video,” says Scott over a Diet Coke at the Brite Spot in Echo Park, namechecking the actress who starred in “Wayne’s World” with an amused smile. “She made an album. You don’t have the album? I’ll get it for you.”

Scott was 19 at the time, freshly out of a two-year stint at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, then in Pasadena, when he got a manager who charged him a monthly fee. “I guess it’s unethical, but at the time it was like, ‘Who cares? I’m 19. She is getting me auditions. Who am I to complain?’”

Of course, she’d tell Scott she had gotten him an acting job. “I would show up, and it was a music video, and I am in a caveman outfit, and there is a band playing, and we are all sitting in the audience. I remember thinking, ‘This is extra work. I’m an extra.'"

The married father of two young children points out that even after 16 years in the business, “I know that I am not entitled to anything, and when somebody thinks they are, that’s a step in the wrong direction. There is nothing more unpleasant than watching someone on a TV or movie set act like they are entitled to a particular kind of treatment just because they have been doing it for longer. We are all in the same boat — one job at a time.”

Scott falls into the “Oh, him!” category of actor. You may not know his name, but his face is probably familiar from projects such as the erotic HBO series “Tell Me You Love Me” and his role as Will Ferrell’s ambitious sibling in " Step Brothers.” He also was nominated for a Spirit Award — losing to Jeff Bridges’ “Crazy Heart” performance — for his uncomfortable, complex and often darkly funny turn as a very angry young man in the 2009 indie drama “The Vicious Kind.”

Even his longtime friend, John Enbom, who is a creator and executive producer of “Party Down,” was taken by surprise by his performance in “Vicious.”

“It was fantastic to see him ripping into something so dramatic and being so excellent at it,” says Enbom, who was introduced to Scott by Paul Rudd (whom he says he met through Dan Etheridge and Rob Thomas, the other producers of “Party Down”). “I have known him for quite some time, and I’m ill-informed as to his actual depth as an actor.”

Scott says he never thought he would be primarily known for his comedic chops. “It just kind of happened completely by accident when I got the part in ‘Step Brothers,’” he says. “I thought I would be a dramatic actor — everyone starts that way. If I can paraphrase what Will Arnett said in an interview — at the end of the day you just end up naming your dog Brando.”

Although he’s worked primarily in cable series, a broader audience may get a chance to see his comedic flair now that Scott has joined the cast of the NBC comedy series “Parks and Recreation,” playing the role of an auditor who, along with a fellow auditor ( Rob Lowe), arrives in a the fictional town of Pawnee, Ind., to go over the financial books.

“Everyone is frightened of us because they think we are going to fire them, and Leslie [ Amy Poehler] is frightened that we are going to steal the budget away from the department,” says Scott. “I think that’s all I am allowed to say.”

Because of his new gig, Scott won’t get to “Party Down” much if that series gets picked up for a third season. “I hope to be involved as much as I can,” Scott says. “I can only do a few episodes as a guest star, so we’ll have to figure out something.” He’ll appear on the last two episodes of “Parks” this season before starting up full time in the fall.

When asked how Scott has fit into the “Parks” ensemble, Michael Schur, who created and executive produces “Parks” with Greg Daniels, deadpans: “He’s a total disaster…. No. He’s doing exactly what we hoped he would do. It’s exceedingly difficult to find a flaw in him as a human being so far, but I’ll find one!”

Schur is in awe of Scott’s chameleon-like quality as an actor.

“The range he demonstrates is ridiculous,” says Schur. “He can go from the most dramatic drama to the goofiest comedy, and he completely owns the performance. If you see an actor who is that versatile and funny in that many different ways, you just go get the guy. Like it’s a no-brainer.”

susan.king@latimes.com


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