Next Question

Adam Scott on Life, Death, Comedy, and ‘Severance’

adam scott

Graphic by KCM

In the newest episode of Next Question, Katie talks to Adam Scott about losing his mom and her lasting influence on his career.

To know Adam Scott is to love Adam Scott. Whether you’re a fan of his role as the straight-laced Ben Wyatt in Parks and Rec, the a cappella obsessed Derek from Step Brothers, or Reese Witherspoon’s pushover husband in Big Little Lies, we’re quite confident that Adam Scott has made you laugh before. 

His newest project, a thriller series called Severance, is a bit of a departure from the comedy that we’ve come to know and love Scott for. The show, which has already been getting rave reviews, stars Scott as Mark Scout, an office manager whose employees’ memories have been surgically divided between their work and personal lives…talk about a dystopian future. 

Just as the comedian proves that he has the chops to handle more serious fare, his conversation with Katie also proves that he’s willing to be vulnerable in all aspects of his life. He recently lost his mom, who was a high school special ed teacher, to ALS, which he calls “a particularly cruel disease.” Scott tells Katie that his mother was “the ultimate cool mom,” and recalls how excited he always felt to tell her everything about his life. He explains one moment when he was nine years old and called his mom after he saw Raiders of the Lost Ark: “I remember getting back to my friend’s house and rushing to the landline to call my mom because I had to unload all these feelings about how I had just seen something and nothing would ever be the same again.” 

When Scott was a teenager, he voiced his desire to become an actor, and his mom responded just as he expected she would. “She immediately approved of the idea,” he tells Katie. “She didn’t even think about it for a second. I was properly loved growing up, and that’s really all you can ask in a mother. So it was a particularly devastating loss.”

With his mother’s support, Scott finally broke into the business with a little show called Party Down, a comedy about Hollywood wannabes stuck in the catering business. “It was a show I just did with my friends,” Scott says. “It wasn’t for career reasons. I don’t think my representatives were particularly interested in me doing this.” Although the series, which stars other comedy legends like Jane Lynch, Ken Marino, and Lizzy Caplan, didn’t make much of a splash at the time, it’s since gained a cult following.

To hear more of Katie’s interview with Scott, including which parts of his mother’s parenting style he’s using with his own kids, check out the latest episode of Next Question.