Adam Scott (as Carter)
<em>They fuck you up, your mum and dad/ They may not mean to, but they do./ They fill you with the faults they had/ And add some extra, just for you.</em> British appeals-court judge Lord Justice Wall once quoted that bit of Philip Larkin to a couple fighting over custody of a nine-year-old. A.C.O.D., which stands for Adult Children of Divorce, serves as a comedic expansion on the theme. Adam Scott plays Carter; they had to call the cops at his ninth birthday party, so fiercely were his parents fighting. (Scott comes across as a more likeable, less wounded Ben Stiller; he’s fun to watch, but the extra woundedness would have helped here.) Carter is keeping his shit together, but when his man-child younger brother decides to get married, he sets out to get Mom and Dad to attend the wedding without killing each other. Complications (copulations) ensue.
Matthew Lickona: What did the script do right that attracted you to this project?
Adam Scott: I thought it was really funny. I thought it was kind of a new, untapped genre — the divorce comedy. I hadn't really seen that before. I also liked the character, how he was sort of a very grown-up control freak who sort of devolves back into a kid over the course of the movie. Usually, what you see in movies is sort of the opposite. I thought it was structurally interesting and really funny.
ML: Speaking of the character: I have a friend who says it's difficult to make a character out of a crazy person — to avoid just disappearing into the neuroses. Could you talk about the challenge of that?
AS: I don't think the character was crazy. Slowly, I think, he becomes more and more neurotic about his place in the world, the effect his parents' insane divorce had on him and his behavior and his life. But I'm not sure he's a crazy person.
ML: Some people might say he moves in the opposite direction, toward letting go or getting over his neuroses — by the time he's going through the box of his childhood stuff...
AS: By that point in the movie, I think he's starting to get a little bit of perspective on it, but that's more toward the end. I think that on the journey there, he becomes more and more neurotic, kind of caught up in his past and all of the things that sort of bother him that he didn't realize were still bubbling beneath the surface.
ML: Would you say this film tends more toward farce or black comedy?
AS: I'm not sure it's either farce or black comedy. It's not a particularly dark movie, so maybe more farce. But I'm not sure it's either.
Hey look! Mom burned Dad's face out of this photo!
ML: One thing I couldn't figure out was how seriously the film itself took divorce.
AS: Well, I think it's a comedy, and it's a comedy about divorce. I think the stakes of the divorce are pretty clearly laid out, because we're seeing the effects of the divorce twenty years later on. So I think in the context of the movie, the characters take it pretty seriously, because their lives are pretty screwed up by it. But it is a comedy, so it's trying to, you know, make it funny as well.
ML: I ask because of that bit during the credits, where you have all those crew members saying "I am an adult child of divorce" or "I am not an adult child of divorce." Was it something that got talked about on set? Was there a feeling that you were opening up some new vein of conversation?
AS: I don't know if it was necessarily opening up a vein. But it was the subject of the movie. I think everybody had a shared experience — a lot of people in the cast and crew had some experience of divorce, so people were certainly talking about it.
ML: Were there particular comic actors who, when you were younger, you looked at and said, "That's what I want to be like" or "That's the arc I want to follow"?
AS: Well, not as far as emulating a career exactly. But growing up, my guys were always Steve Martin, Albert Brooks, and David Letterman. They were my favorite guys and they still are. I still think those guys are just the funniest.
ML: What about their humor made them work so well for you?
AS: I don't know. Everybody's different. I think it's whatever just really makes you laugh. And I've never laughed harder than while watching Letterman on TV or watching Albert Brooks and Steve Martin movies, or listening to them doing standup. That kind of shaped me in a lot of ways.