In Conversation: Adam Scott and Jason Schwartzman Talk New Indie Comedy ‘The Overnight’

the overnight
Adam Scott, Taylor Schilling and Jason Schwartzman star in 'The Overnight.' Courtesy of 'The Overnight' - Cinematographer John Guleserian

What’s the strangest dinner party you’ve ever been to? Whatever went down, it probably pales in comparison to the revelry and revelations in Patrick Brice’s hysterical slapstick indie comedy The Overnight.

It’s the tale of an uptight, 30-something couple who have recently moved to Los Angeles, Emily (Taylor Schilling) and Alex (Adam Scott), unsure of their place in the city and how to meet like-minded people. One afternoon, they take their son to the playground and unexpectedly meet the freewheeling Kurt (Jason Schwartzman), who invites them over to his palatial home for dinner and arranges a play date for their sons.

What starts out as a wine and pizza party with Kurt and his wife, Charlotte (Judith Godrèche), turns into an increasingly strange night involving breast pump videos, dance parties and bongs. As the night stretches into morning, both couples are forced to confront challenging questions about their relationship, and themselves, and reevaluate how they connect to others. The Overnight, which premiered at Sundance Film Festival last week to overwhelming applause (when we weren’t crying in laughter), and was recently acquired by The Orchard and is slated for a wide theatrical release in late 2015.

We chatted in Park City, Utah, with Scott and Schwartzman about The Overnight, what it was like donning prosthetic penises, swinging culture and the precarious nature of making friends when you get older.

A central plot point in The Overnight involves one of you donning a comically large prosthetic dick, and the other a near-micropenis. What was it like getting those elements together?

Scott: My wife [Naomi] and I helped produce the movie, and so we kind of got to see the early images of the prosthetics [the prop] guys put together. There was a lot of debate: The big one should be bigger and the small one should be smaller, and I feel like we got this—kind of the perfect place with both of them. I think that the smaller one is not quite...a micropenis? I don’t think Patrick [Brice] wanted to be that extreme with it. You know, Patrick chose the ones he thought were most representative.

Schwartzman: Yeah. I guess it’s going to be such a moment to talk about in the story, when these things are revealed that there’s a really small and a really big one, and the two of them next to each other.

Sounds like it was a blast to film that scene when you two are dancing naked by the pool.

Scott: Yeah, super fun.

Schwartzman: It was great once we’d been naked for a while. I’m pretty shy.

Scott: Me too!

Schwartzman: I’m a modest person, I’m not…

Scott: Yeah. But I felt weirdly comfortable out there. Like 15 minutes in and you think, Eh, whatever.

Schwartzman: I mean, I’m the guy who will not take his shirt off at a party. And my wife walked on-set and was like, Who is this guy? Is that my husband? Prancing around like a little pony? I was just so extremely naked in front of all these people. But it was not scary anymore.

One of my favorite lines in the film comes when your character, Adam, is finally able to be comfortable with his body and says, “I feel like I just gave birth to myself!”

Scott: Yeah, it was kind of freeing!

Schwartzman: I feel like my character is just kind of “Take it off!” and then it’s like, “Whoa.” The night is going to...this. [Adam’s] is like a powerful pull-out-the-grenade moment. Mine is more of a shocking “Oh my God, these guys are getting naked!” I like that it establishes that.

Given those naked scenes, it’s interesting that as a viewer you don’t feel quite like a voyeur.

Schwartzman: Yeah, but that look on Judith [Godrèche]’s face in the massage parlor is a look...I don’t want to see that look a lot.

Scott: A very provocative look.

Disturbing, even.

Schwartzman: Oh my God. You know one of my favorite lines in the movie happens around that time...when Taylor is driving Judith and asks, “Why am I driving your car?”

Scott: That’s funny. Originally in that scene Judith was driving, but Judith is such a terrible driver, and we started shooting this scene, and everyone was too frightened. So we had to get Taylor [Schilling] to drive and had to switch the lines around.

How was it like seeing this on the big screen at the premiere? 

Scott: You know, I was surprised by how people were laughing so much that they were missing important lines of dialogue. Which is just a terrific problem to have. We’re just so happy about that. But there were some parts that I was like, “Shut up, shut up!” because they’re either missing an important character point or the setup for another joke.

The dialogue has quite a few good one-liners. Did you work entirely off the script or was there any element of improvisation there?

Scott: I mean, we did improvise a lot on the set, but that was more to kind of get into a rhythm together. There wasn’t an insane amount. Patrick wrote a great script, so it’s pretty much all scripted. But we did mess around a bit.

 Schwartzman: Sometimes you’ll say a few things, but that was just sort of nice of Patrick to let us go. But most everything in the movie is in the script. Because it is a delicate...thing.

The film is funny, but it also taps at something more serious as well: how hard it is to make friends and connect with strangers when you’re older.

Schwartzman: That’s what I loved about the movie. I mean, [Adam] has two kids that are a little older than my two kids, but my daughter, you know, goes to school and has play dates. And I think about it all the time—it’s hard to meet people and open up to people. When do you connect with people, you know what I mean? And also, Where are you at in your own life and your partners as well? I really related to that.

How did you prepare for the role? Did you watch any documentaries about sex culture or comedies about swingers?

Schwartzman: We just kind of went into it. It’s got some moments of like, we’re going to kiss, but not a lot of that.... It’s not really a swinger comedy. Oh, have you ever seen that swinger movie called The Lifestyle, though? There’s also one called Swinging in America that’s pretty wild.

 Scott: Huh. And it’s a documentary about swingers?

 Schwartzman: Yeah, it’s about swinging culture in America. Basically, there’s a house that’s, like, the designated swinging house. There’s rules and etiquette about how you do it, but it’s a documentary, and the camera’s going in different rooms, and couples are just having sex….

Scott: On HBO’s Real Sex there was a lot of that kind of stuff.

Schwartzman: Sometimes when there’s a tense moment of silence I like to say, “Real Sex, that’s a wrap!” [Laughs.] I remember watching Real Sex as a younger person and sometimes thinking...This is hot.

Scott: Oh God, yeah.

Schwartzman: Where there’s some like unicorn mud-bath circus….and not to make fun of people’s fetishes, but there’s a moment when it stops being erotic.

Both of you are married. What was going through your head during these tense scenes where your characters realize the confines of their marriage are loosening and they are considering seeing other people?

 Scott: I don’t know. I think it’s about two people who have never really taken the time to consider that, how they feel about that with a pretty boxed-in, limited sex life and have kept their horizons pretty cut off in terms of how they view the world and themselves. And this is the first time they’ve thought about themselves as desirable people outside their own marriage. The fact that they don’t see [the other couple] that way as well, it’s blowing their minds and freaking out.

Schwartzman: I love the scene when Judith is like, “But if we weren’t married, would we do this?” That’s a terrible position to put someone in.

Scott: Terrible!

Adam, I couldn’t help but wonder if your character and Taylor’s, since they are so repressed, watch porn?

Scott: Hmm. They don’t seem like it to me. Why did you wonder that?

I was just thinking about how wildly different people express sexual desires, even people who are admittedly sexually frustrated, like Alex and Emily.

Scott: I would imagine maybe they do it in private, but I think they’re pretty innocent. That’s a good question. I would say everyone watches porn in some capacity, but they’re definitely not the kind of couple to watch it together.

Schwartzman: [In a French accent] I think we need to ask the question: What is porn? I was talking to someone once about porn recently, and they were like, the last great porn I saw was Blue Is the Warmest Color.

 Scott: Hey, that’s not a porn!

That’s a great film.

Schwartzman: [In a British accent] That’s a great fucking film!

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