Adam Scott And Mr. Beaks Unashamedly Share Their Feelings About Nik Fackler's LOVELY, STILL!
Published at: Sept. 10, 2010, 4:22 p.m. CST by mrbeaks
Opening this Friday in limited release is LOVLEY, STILL, a gently whimsical tale of a late-breaking romance between two lonely senior citizens. Sounds like a random piece of faux-uplift found best relegated to Lifetime, right? It isn't that at all. Written and directed by first-time filmmaker Nik Fackler, LOVELY, STILL is a surprisingly moving, wholly genuine celebration of true, lasting love that never once descends into irony or cynicism - which is all the more remarkable given Fackler's youth (he was twenty-three when he shot the movie). So much for this generation being too hip to register a sincere emotion.
Set in Omaha, Nebraska (and featuring music from Bright Eyes' Conor Oberst, Mike Mogis and Nate Walcott), the film boasts towering performances from the formidable likes of Martin Landau and Ellen Burstyn; if a major distributor was handling this movie, these two would be in the running for numerous year-end awards. Obviously, Landau and Burstyn are tremendous in their scenes together - but they're also wonderful when paired with their young counterparts, played by Adam Scott and Elizabeth Banks. Scott is particularly impressive as the putz-y grocery store manager who attempts to assist Landau in his boyish wooing of Burstyn; even if his character is thoroughly misguided, it's nice to see Scott playing a (relatively) nice guy for a change.
In talking with Scott earlier today, he seemed kind of stunned that he got to share the screen with a legend like Landau (he's been a fan of the Academy Award-winning actor since he saw him in CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS twenty-two years ago). In the below interview, we talk about his experience working alongside two of his acting heroes (he's also an avid admirer of Ms. Burstyn in ALICE DOESN'T LIVE HERE ANYMORE), the uniqueness of writer-director Nik Fackler, the intimidating intellect of Elizabeth Banks, his ambitions as a producer (the man knows his movies) and the not-all-used-up future of PARTY DOWN.
Mr. Beaks: This is such an uncommonly sweet and sincere movie. There's been such a tendency towards cynicism and irony that a movie like this really stands out. When you got the script, was this striking to you as well?
Adam Scott: It really was. It really struck me as this unabashedly sweet love story between two people who are older. You never see something like that unless it's on the Hallmark Channel - and this is not a Hallmark Channel movie at all. This guy, Nik Fackler, who directed it is this really smart young guy; I think he wrote the script when he was eighteen. He's kind of mired in that Omaha scene with Bright Eyes, The Faint, and all of these great bands. He directs music videos for them. He's this really cool, smart kid, and he got Martin Landau and Ellen Burstyn to do it. So I really wanted to do it to work with them, and work with him because he wrote this extraordinarily sweet movie. He had this real Tim Burton-ish vision for the movie, which I thought was really interesting. I think what he came up with is something that's really sweet and lovely without being overly sentimental and gooey. It's this straightforward love story between people who just happen to be older.
Beaks: It's rare to see that kind of insight in a young writer.
Scott: It really is. And when I got to the set... I'd talked to Nik on the phone, but I'd never met him. So I got there and was looking around for him to meet him. And this kid walks up to me with jeans rolled up to his knees and this weird hat on, and he's like, "Hey, how's it going?" I figured he was an intern or someone's son on the set. He was lifting boxes, like, helping the crew bring stuff upstairs. He stopped for a second to say "Hello" to me, and I was shocked that this was the guy who was going to direct this movie. It was a great way to kick off the experience. The whole thing was a really fun, playful experience. It wasn't a tough shoot at all. With a super low budget sometimes they're tough, but it was a total blast.
Beaks: Well, the bulk of your scenes are with Martin Landau, so I can only imagine. What was the dynamic like between you two?
Scott: It was terrific. He's a really sweet, open guy. When I was in high school, CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS came out, and I just devoured that movie. As soon as I could, I got a copy of it, and, in high school, must've watched it thirty times. I couldn't get enough of his performance in the movie. So we spent a lot of time talking about CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS; he loved talking about that movie and that character. It was fascinating. He's just a wonderful guy. I still can't believe I got to work with him as much as I did. We got to do some really fun scenes, and improvised a bit. I had just ten days earlier finished STEP BROTHERS, so I was coming from this movie where I was doing a lot of improvisation; that was the mindset I was in, so in a couple of the scenes we were doing, I started throwing stuff out there. And he got right in there with me. We had a really good time screwing around a bit. It was really fun.
Beaks: That must've been quite a change of pace, though. Did you have to say to yourself, "What's appropriate for STEP BROTHERS might not be appropriate for this movie?"
Scott: I guess. We could do anything, and if they didn't want it they could cut it out. That's what I learned from my STEP BROTHERS experience: try everything, and if it doesn't work they just don't use it. We did a bunch of stuff [in LOVELY, STILL] that's not in the movie that works or doesn't, but it was fun to just experiment with this acting giant, this incredible film presence. It's still crazy that I got to hang out with him and know him a bit.
Beaks: I've got to say that CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS might be my favorite Woody Allen film.
Scott: I think it definitely is my favorite Woody Allen movie.
Beaks: Did he share any anecdotes that you could perhaps pass along?
Scott: He said a lot of things. (Pause) I'm trying to parse what would be appropriate to share, because he was being very candid with me with how he approached the movie. He knew I loved CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS, so when we were working on scenes, he would drop in little anecdotes about things Woody Allen said to him. He talked about how Woody Allen works. Martin's a really matter of fact guy and so is Woody Allen, so it sounds like they had a terrific working relationship. Neither of them have a lot of time for bullshit; they just got right down to it. And it's some of the best acting and directing that's ever been done.
You know, when you're growing up and watching these movies for the first time... at least, for me, I always figured there was endless handwringing and examination and analyzation to come up with a movie that incredible and that lasting. But then when you talk to these people... like the conversations I had with Martin Scorsese [on the set of THE AVIATOR], to them it's not that big of a deal. That's still mind-blowing to me. It's fascinating to hear someone talk about making CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS or GOODFELLAS, and they're like, "Oh, yeah, we shot at that place, and it was great." They talk about it like it was a regular work day. But, for us, it's tattooed on our psyche forever. It's this iconic moment. But for them, they were just making a movie.
Beaks: You could actually apply that to your career, though. The day you were doing the "Sweet Child O' Mine" scene in STEP BROTHERS, you didn't know that this would become its own little phenomenon.
Scott: That's true. Of course, we knew it was insane. We thought it was hilarious when we were doing it, and hoped other people would think it was hilarious. But, you're right, when stuff like that happens and I'm involved, it is a little weird. I wasn't doing anything that special; I was just trying to make it work on the day. And it ended up working because it was well written and well directed. I was just a small cog in that machine. But you're right, it's funny to think of it that way.
Beaks: How was it working with Ellen Burstyn and Elizabeth Banks?
Scott: It was terrific. Ellen is another acting hero from ALICE DOESN'T LIVE HERE ANYMORE. It's one of my favorite movies. She's terrific. She's really funny, and just a really sweet woman. She's also ferociously intelligent. And Liz and I have become buddies; we just did another movie this past summer called MY IDIOT BROTHER together. She's really fun, always a good time. Very stupid person. (Laughs) I think within two years, she will completely take over show business. She is smarter than I will ever be.
Beaks: You also worked with Dana and Stephen Altman on this movie. There's a lot of history there. Did you get to know them at all?
Scott: A little bit. In their office, they had this old NASHVILLE poster that I wanted to steal. It was a vintage NASHVILLE poster from its original release. I kept walking by it and saying, "This is extraordinary, guys. I'm a person who really cares about this movie." You know, really hinting "Give this to me as a wrap present." There was no way that was going to happen.
You know, one of my favorite movies of the last few years is A PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION. It ended up being his last movie, and it's a great film.
Beaks: It's a lovely swan song.
Scott: It is. I'm so glad that got to be his last one. It's so weird. That movie is so evocative of something that I still can't put my finger on. There's something that makes me feel so nostalgic for my childhood, and I have no idea why. There's something so powerful about it. There's nothing that reminds me of my childhood directly, but I find the movie so... indirectly moving. I really think it's a great movie.
Beaks: You've started producing. What kinds of movies are you looking to make? You're obviously well-versed in film, so I imagine you'd probably like to try to do everything.
Scott: I grew up in the '80s, and just recently I hosted a screening of INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM at the Screen Actors Guild. It was a lot of fun to see it up on the big screen again. For some reason, they asked if I would like to screen one of my favorite movies there; I don't know why they asked me, but I was happy to think about what would one of my favorite movies be. I'd just recently finally seen PIRANHA 3D, and I was so pleased with that movie and that it turned out to be so much fun. Opening night, I went to a movie theater and watched it with an audience... and afterwards, I saw the audience breaking up into groups out in the lobby. They weren't going to their cars; they were talking about different scenes, about how they couldn't believe this happened or that happened. Everyone was smiling and laughing, and it reminded me of TEMPLE OF DOOM. I hadn't seen that in a movie lobby since TEMPLE OF DOOM. I just love that movie. It's been badmouthed over the years as the Indiana Jones movie that went too far or whatever, but, for me, it was always my favorite one; it's so fun, and it just doesn't stop. So that is kind of a template. Growing up in the '80s, with BEVERLY HILLS COP, BACK TO THE FUTURE, MIDNIGHT RUN... all of these action-comedies, that's kind of my favorite genre. I love how David Gordon Green sort of found it again with PINEAPPLE EXPRESS. THE OTHER GUYS was also a great continuation of that. I love the movies of the '80s.
I'm rediscovering my fondness for that kind of smart entertainment - smart, kind of broad-ish entertainment. I found myself really happy to see the audience having such a good time at PIRANHA. It was hard to find someone that wasn't laughing or couldn't believe what the fuck they were seeing. It was just audacious and a total blast. I mean, SEX, LIES & VIDEOTAPE is one of my favorite movies as well, but JAWS and RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK are on the other side of that coin.
Beaks: There's so much by-committee filmmaking when you're summer event films now. You don't get that heart or the level of invention that we saw in movies back then. You had Spielberg and Joe Dante, and miracles like GHOSTBUSTERS...
Scott: GHOSTBUSTERS, THREE AMIGOS, THE BLUES BROTHERS... those are big blockbusters where they just let the director do what the director is good at; they let them be who they are, and you got these lightning-in-a-bottle moments in blockbuster movies that we don't see anymore. That's why PINEAPPLE EXPRESS, THE OTHER GUYS and PIRANHA 3D are so refreshing in my opinion; these guys are just left to express themselves and let out all this fun on the screen. That's what a summer blockbuster should be. And INCEPTION as well. I saw INCEPTION a couple of times, and even though it's more serious-minded, I just thought it was a blast and fascinating and a great night at the movies.
Beaks: How are things going on PARKS AND RECREATION?
Scott: They're great! In two weeks, we start shooting again. We shot the first six episodes for Season Three back in the spring, and we're going to continue with Episode Seven in a couple of weeks. It's some great stuff, great episodes. It's such a terrific group of writers over there; no matter how terrible I am, I'm protected by this great room of writers. And actors. It's just a great group over there.
Beaks: It's one of my favorite ensembles on TV.
Scott: I agree. I was a total PARKS AND REC nerd before coming on, so it was a really great gig.
Beaks: I do not envy anyone having to keep a straight face in front of Nick Offerman.
Scott: It's insane. He's out of his fucking mind.
Beaks: It sucks we have to wait so long for it to come back, but at least it is coming back.
Scott: I think the network knows what they're doing. They're doing what they can to protect all their shows, and to put them on at the optimum time. We're trusting them that it's all going to work out for the best.
Beaks: Finally, is there any talk of doing a PARTY DOWN movie or getting those characters back together somehow?
Scott: We really want to try and do something. We're not sure yet what exactly, but a movie is not out of the question. We did a thing in L.A. a few months ago with Tig Notaro and Sarah Silverman, a live stage show where we all went on and did different things in front of an audience. We thought maybe a live PARTY DOWN show would be fun, too. I don't know. We all just love working together, and we would all agree that PARTY DOWN is a real pinnacle in all of our careers creatively. STARZ really gave us autonomy. So we all want to do something together.
Beaks: Would that be a touring show?
Scott: I don't know. Maybe. That would be fun, though. If people would go, we wouldn't rule it out. But a movie would be fun, too - if people would promise to go, so we could get money to make it. We're all going to get together for dinner next week, so maybe we'll figure out something that night.
I promise to go. Multiple times. And I'm sure we've plenty of readers who'll pledge their hard-earned ducats to a PARTY DOWN movie. Pipe up in the talkback, folks!
In the meantime, seek out LOVELY, STILL. It opens September 10th in New York City, and expands to Los Angeles on September 17th.