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ByJon O'Brien/Jan. 26, 2023 12:03 pm EST
After years of bit-parts, one-off appearances, and supporting turns, Adam Scott deservedly became a genuine star when he was cast as the lovably nerdy state auditor Ben Wyatt in the feel-good NBC sitcom "Parks and Recreation." And he's never looked back.
The actor has continued to showcase his comic talents on both the small screen ("The Good Place," "Ghosted," "Wet Hot American Summer: 10 Years Later") and the big screen ("Bachelorette," "Hot Tub Time Machine 2," "The Overnight"). And Scott has shown that he has some pretty impressive dramatic chops, too, with roles in "Big Little Lies" and "Severance." Look no further than the Emmy Award nomination he received for his leading performance in the latter mind-bending sci-fi show as proof (he received another nod as producer).
But while the amiable Scott may often look like he doesn't have a care in the world, the Californian has had to face several hardships throughout his slow-building career. From family losses to casting setbacks, here's a look at nine of his saddest experiences.
Adam Scott lost his motherin 2020
In May 2020, Adam Scott took to Instagram to share the devastating news that his mother Anne had died from ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), the motor-neuron condition which results in impaired speech, movement, and later, respiration.
Alongside a baby photo in which he was being carried by his mom, Scott posted an emotional tribute which no doubt had many of his followers in tears. He wrote, "...my mom and I were very much the same. We were connected, shared a brain — we knew the exact joke or silent internal reaction the other was thinking or feeling — which as a son drove me crazy and caused me to pull away from her at certain times in my life. This kills me now that she's gone. I want to jump back to all those moments and apologize and pull her back in. But that's not the way it works."
The "Madame Web" star then posted a second photo in which he posed alongside his mother later in her life. And once again, the caption proved that the actor has a remarkable way with words: "She gave me the world, and now I look at it with her eyes, and feel her in my heart." Scott also described Anne as the "ultimate Cool Mom," recalling the moments when his nine-year-old self and his friends would often greet her with, and be greeted by, a string of curse words.
He had to work through his griefalone
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In the same year that he lost his mother Anne to ALS, Adam Scott also had to inhabit a character dealing with grief. In November 2020, the actor began shooting "Severance," the Apple TV+ sci-fi drama in which he plays Mark S., an office worker struggling to come to terms with the death of his wife. The character is able to neurologically separate his professional life and his private life,thanks to the controversial severance procedure.
In an interview with Insider, Scott revealed that the role of Lumon Industries employee Mark S. was the most challenging he'd ever accepted: "I felt like the role isn't something that I could have done, you know, 10 years ago, or maybe even five years ago. ... But it's something that I felt like I could do now — not only earned career-wise, but also emotionally."
The Californian, whose character transforms from a broken shell of a man into a confident everyman whenever he steps inside his workplace, also discussed how isolated he felt due to circumstances beyond anyone's control: "I found myself in New York, kind of by myself. Because it was a pandemic, I was either sitting in an apartment by myself, or I was on the set working. And so the grieving, I ended up doing it through the show."
His 'rabid insecurity'
You might expect that a man who hasEmmy Award nominationsto his name, appeared in the greatest sitcoms of the 21st century, and worked with Martin Scorsese would be pretty confident about his talents. Not Adam Scott. In a 2022 interview with The Guardian, the actor admitted that despite racking up more than 100 screen credits, he feels the same way that he did when he only had a few: "I started out doing background work in the early '90s. After that, I got little two-line jobs on 'ER,' 'Boy Meets World,' stuff like that. But I still have the brain of the person I was. I'm still carrying the same self-doubt, the same sense of rabid insecurity." It was this insecurity that made shooting "Severance" all the more intense: "I certainly felt the weight and the pressure to make sure the show didn't crash," Scott said. He had felt that in prior projects, his performance had been less important.
In 2023, the actor was invited to chat with Danielle Fishel, Will Friedle, and Rider Strong on"Pod Meets World."When asked about his exit from the show "Boy Meets World," Scott didn't remember much, but said, "As a kind of self-hating actor, I just figured, 'Oh, they finally figured out that I can't do this.'" About halfway through the episode, he opened up about attempting to give Rider Strong a hug one night when Strong pulled away and stared at him. "Literally, this has been tugging at me for 29 years,"Scott said, only for Strong not to remember!
Adam Scott's early career
It's fair to say that Adam Scott wasn't an overnight success. The Californian spent much of his early to mid-1990s career in blink-and-you'll-miss-it roles in forgotten projects such as MTV drama "Dead at 21" and low-budget indie "Cityscrapes: Los Angeles." And it wasn't until the 2008 comedy "Step Brothers" that he truly achieved his mainstream breakthrough.
As a result, Scott had a long period of uncertainty, as he told GQ in 2022. The actor was asked, "Did you have any experience of a soul-killing office job to draw on for'Severance?'" Though he hadn't experienced such an office job,Scott answered, "...for many years, or for what felt like forever, I spent a lot of time in a studio apartment just staring at a wall, wondering if this was ever going to come together for me. And plugging away at auditions for things that I would never want to watch but that I desperately wanted to be a part of, just wanting acceptance and acknowledgement somewhere."
Scott knew he wasn't alone in feeling that way as an actor, and his experiences at least paid off with his role in "Severance," the workplace sci-fi partly about the crushing mundanity of office life. He explained to GQ that finally, he was reading a script for a show he'd actually watch. "It felt like the thing that I'd been spending all these years toiling away for, earning the chance to get a role like this," Scott added.
Adam Scott lost out on his dream role
It's hard to imagine anyone other than Michael C. Hall playing middle child David Fisher in acclaimed dramedy "Six Feet Under." But another future TV regular very nearly got the role ahead of him. And the near-miss left the man in question, Adam Scott, utterly devastated.
Speaking to Uproxx in 2022, Scott recalled how the knockback gave him a crisis of confidence: "[I] went through the wringer, so many auditions, and obviously didn't get it. And that was a real heartbreaker, where I was sort of like, 'Maybe I just can't do this. ... I don't know if I can take this brick wall I keep running into.'"
Scott's wife Naomi, whom he was dating at the time, even asked him, "'Have you ever thought of anything else?'" She told The New York Times that in response to her curiosity about a "back-up plan," "He was like, 'There is none.'" Of course, everything worked out for both parties in the end. And Scott is far from bitter about the actor casting directors chose instead, as he praised Hall's performance in the role.
Girls ignored the teenage Adam Scott
Adam Scott may now be consideredperfect boyfriend material thanks to his role as Leslie Knope's other half Ben Wyatt in "Parks and Recreation." But the star, who has been happily married to Naomi Sablan, the mother of his two children, since 2005, had pretty much the opposite reaction while growing up.
Indeed, in a 2010 interview with Slash Film, Scott admitted that he wasn't exactly a lothario in his teenage years. Referring to his first kiss as an eighth grader, the actor said, "...for a lot of kids at my school, that actually made me a late bloomer. I went through a real chubby phase, so I was not getting girls for a long time. So, the first girl I did get, we made out. It was at a locker."
The self-deprecating "Party Down" star also revealed why he and the girl in question didn't last the distance. "...I think she kind of just ceremoniously dumped me one day. We were girlfriend and boyfriend and then one day she was like ... 'You're a...lame-ass.' And got rid of me. But I am glad to have been a part of her life." The former flame has since come out as a lesbian, and she and Scott kept in touch.
Adam Scott struggled to cope with fame
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Adam Scott spent years in relative obscurity before the triple whammy of "Step Brothers," "Party Down" and "Parks and Recreation" helped put him firmly on the Hollywood map. But in a case of "be careful what you wish for," the Californian found it difficult to deal with the success he'd craved.
Scott was particularly wary of going out in public, as he told The New York Times more than a decade later: "I started getting recognized, and it just felt completely different than I had imagined that feeling for those 15 or so years. It felt more like I had a disease on my face than it did being recognized. It didn't feel like this warm acceptance and hug. I always thought it would feel like love or something, but it's a weird, isolating feeling."
In a chat on "Boy Meets World" rewatch podcast "Pod Meets World" in 2023, Scott freely admitted that during his early career on the sitcom, he was desperate to be recognized. In fact, he even used to scour online message boards to find the slightest bit of evidence that the American public knew who he was. Someone on the '90s internet spread a rumor that Danielle Fishel was telling people that Scott was disliked. Decades later, Fishel debunked the rumor and gave her former co-star some reassurance.
His parents divorced when he was young
Adam Scott has been a happily married man since walking down the aisle with producer Naomi Sablan in 2005. And judging by the gushing comments he regularly makes on Instagram, their relationship is still very much going strong.
Sadly, the "Little Evil" star's parents didn't manage to last the distance. Indeed, Dougald Scott and Anne Quartararo, both of whom used to earn a living as teachers, divorced when the actor and his older siblings David and Shannon were kids.
Scott spent much of his subsequent childhood residing with his mom, a period he later recalled while paying tribute to her in the wake of her 2020 death from ALS: "I think back often to my tween years — roughly 11 through 13. My mom and I lived together, my sister having left for college and my brother living mostly at my dad's or out and about enjoying his newfound teenager status. So it was my mom and I. Frick and Frack. The world wasn't ready for us but boy were we ready for the world." The actor still appears to have a good relationship with his dad, as evidenced by the loving Father's DayInstagram message he posted later that same year.
Adam Scott was twice struck down with COVID-19
There was one particularly notable absentee from the screening of the well-received Season 1 finale of "Severance": its leading man. And this wasn't due to a fallout with co-stars or a simple case of laziness. Adam Scott, who plays Lumon Industries employee Mark S. in the Apple TV+ hit, was recovering from being struck down with COVID-19. In a pre-recorded video, the Californian told attendees from his Costa Rica hotel room that he'd tested positive for the virus and that he regretted missing the occasion (via Page Six).
Coincidentally, Scott's first bout of COVID occurred while he was filming "Severance"in February 2021, as he shared on Twitter months later. "Only way to describe is ... run over by a train then placed under a hovercraft for 10 days? Wouldn't wish upon anyone," Scott wrote, imploring his followers to get vaccinated. The star had already dealt with isolation from his family for months on end due to COVID protocols at work — he was in New York, and his wife and kids were in L.A. "I was either eating and sleeping alone or I was working under the fluorescent lights at Lumon. So that sense of isolation really paralleled my own life," he told The Guardian.