If you’ve never partied down with Party Down, now’s your chance. The first season of the Starz ensemble comedy is out now on DVD — and streaming on Netflix — just in time for the second season premiere this Friday. Created by Rob Thomas (the Veronica Mars guy, not the singer), the show follows a motley catering crew that does party after party every episode, and usually before the end of the night, something goes terribly and hilariously wrong. And it’s been a boon for the career of Adam Scott. He plays Henry, a one-hit acting wonder forced to resort to food service in the first season, but now runs the crew as the second season starts. “It’s my very, very favorite thing to do,” Scott says. “Other than being with my wife and my kids, I want to be with those people at Party Down.” I talked with Scott for an item in last week’s Who’s News page, but we talked about Party Down, his memorable role in Step Brothers and how he’s getting bloody for his next movie. Read below for our conversation, and check out a sneak preview of this season of Party Down with Scott, Lizzy Caplan and new cast member, Megan Mullally.
Photos courtesy of USA Today, Starz, Dimension Films
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That first season of Party Down came out of nowhere to be a cult hit. Will this season garner even more fans?
A lot of people, ourselves included actually, didn’t know what we had when we started season one. It took a couple of episodes. If you watch season one, the first couple are a little shaky creatively because we’re all sort of finding our footing. Then it finds a groove and after a few, we really found something special. We don’t feel this that often, this kind of pleasure from a job. The audience reacted in a similar way. People who stuck with it really ended up finding something special there. Both us and the network now know what it is that we have, and we all know how to sell it now.
With Henry, he’s kind of quiet those first couple of episodes because everybody bugs him and he’s new, but the first episode of season two, he’s in charge and a lot more talkative. It’s almost like he’s a different character.
Yeah, everybody starts in a completely different place in season two. It’s really exciting. Henry is now where Ron [played by Ken Marino] was at the beginning of season one. But what we’ll find through the season is that Henry might discover that being team leader at a catering company perhaps isn’t what he’s meant to do. Casey [Caplan] comes back into the fold with the catering team, and there’s some unfinished business there.
The show is known for it’s A-list guest stars. For the regular cast, does that infuse you with more energy because these new people bring in their own enthusiasm?
The show lives and dies by its guest cast, which is really unique — not many shows can say that. Every week, the show is in a completely new world, and the world is dictated by the guest cast and whoever’s hired Party Down to cater their event – not only the people who hired us, but the people who are attending the party, they really drive the narrative every week. We have to get the best people in there as possible, but the trick is that it’s not the most well-known show and we don’t pay very much, so whoever it is we get tends to be friends who are doing us a favor. We have been so lucky to get people like JK Simmons and Kristen Bell and Tom Lennon and Breckin Meyer and all these great people over the years. In season two, Jane Lynch comes back for the season finale. Jimmi Simpson really kills it in the season premiere. We’ve just been super lucky.
And you’ve got Steve Guttenberg this season, too.
That is pretty amazing. We cater Steve Guttenberg’s birthday party, but his friends had thrown him a surprise party the night before, he shows up and realizes he forgot to cancel the catering. So we just hang out with Steve Guttenberg for the night. It’s awesome, and he’s such a wonderful guy and was so humble and sweet. Playing yourself is a tricky thing, and he really hit a home run.
You’ve been working as an actor for years. Do you have that signature role, like how everybody knows Henry from his commercial?
These days, it’s Step Brothers people usually know me from, especially young males. [Laughs] When somebody who’s 13 years old comes up to me and wants to talk about Step Brothers, it’s great because you can tell that maybe they weren’t supposed to watch it because it’s rated R. But when I was that age, that’s all I watched – Blue Brothers, Animal House, Trading Places, all those hard R comedies. Those were my favorites. If I ran into the bad guy from one of those movies, I would have just lost my mind. It’s such a treat when teenage kids are interested. And then they figure out that I’m a pretty boring guy and I’m not the guy from the movie, and they lose interest. It’s pretty cool for the first few moments.
You do seem to balance dramas and comedies – for every Step Brothers, there is a Tell Me You Love Me. Is that a conscious thing?
No, it’s not. I did Tell Me You Love Me, which is maybe the most serious show in the history of television, and I thought it was wonderful and didn’t really get its due. It was a tough time at HBO and didn’t really fit in over there. It’s a tough show to market. I did that and I had friends who were working on Knocked Up and I was around, so they had me go in and do that little part as a nurse. That’s how I met Judd Apatow. It was a fluke. Judd was working on Step Brothers, so that helped with that. It’s all just a series of accidents. They were the great jobs that were there at the time.
You’re in Piranha 3D, which comes out in August. Did you grow up on horror movies, too?
Oh yeah, all those Friday the 13th and Freddy Krueger movies. I loved Piranha. It was a really fun horror film. This one will be really cool – Alexandre Aja, who directed it, is a pretty incredible guy. He directed High Tension a few years ago, which was a wonderful horror film that was really artful and really terrifying and disgusting. As far as horror films go, it was about as good as you can get. This’ll be a nice mix of a lot of humor in there — it doesn’t take itself very seriously – but also I think the trick will be you’ll be laughing because there’s a lot of comedy, but as you’re laughing, then you’ll be hit with horrible, disgusting violence. [Laughs] And from what I’ve heard, it’s the bloodiest movie in film history.
That’s something to put on the resume. I take it this is the goriest thing you’ve ever done.
Yeah. There’s a massacre scene where all the piranhas attack a big party that’s happening in a lake, where they had a gas tanker truck that was filled with blood. On the side of the lake, it had a tube coming out of it, going underground and coming up at the bottom of the lake, and it was just pumping blood into the lake for this massacre scene. I think there actually is more blood spilled in this film than ever before. But it was some special biodegradable fake blood, because we were in a lake.