Scott Adsit [Interview]
February 2, 2013 Leave a comment
30 Rock was obviously one of the greatest comedy shows on the air in the last few years, and will more than likely go down as one of the top shows in the history of television. What is that made this show so damn great? Well, it’s obviously the great writing, which can only be hailed properly by superior acting abilities. Antics, oafs, and stress are three almost essential elements in creating a good, long lasting comedy show. It’s all about character. And 30 Rock had so many brilliant characters assembled into one hilarious setting.
One of my personal favorite characters from the show was without a doubt the whimsical man who seems to take life one day at a time, because thinking about his future might just make his head explode. I am talking about Pete Hornberger. The lovely saddened bald man who seems to be on an entire different plain than his wacky co-workers. Better known to the real world as Scott Adsit, this is an actor who has mastered the art of of portraying the lovable oaf that you just can’t say a bad word about. As recognizable as he is charming, Adsit is a character in himself, and one that we are surely going to be fortunate enough to see even more of as his career progresses with each passing day. We were fortunate enough to be able to steal a few words form one of televisions finest jewels to ask him about the show, why he loves what he does, and….is he a raging alcoholic? So, enjoy!
Within your extremely impressive career, you have mastered the art of on-screen acting, as well as improv theatre. Tell us, if you were only able to do one of these performances, which would it be?
Well, I wish improv paid what on camera pays. But I keep doing improv, and theater in general, for next to nothing. So I guess if I had to choose, I’d go with the one that benefits my visceral, artistic, guerrilla mojo, but dooms me financially because the stage is the Actor’s medium. Unlike on film, we’re in charge of what’s going on, how we react, move and deliver lines. On screen, we’re subject to a committee of opinions that control the final product: editors and producers and sponsors and studio heads. And in my experience, they generally do a great job (maybe I’ve been lucky). But on stage, it’s just me, my cast and the crowd. Also, there’s obviously a high you get from finding your rhythm with an audience. It’s a symbiotic relationship; you delight each other.
How much of Pete Hornberger is there in Scott Adsit?
Pete and I started out closer to each other than we ended up. The more we learned about Pete, the more we found out about his bizarre, off-screen life. He kind of stood out as the normal one among eccentrics and oddballs, but eventually, we come to realize that for every Micky Roarke encounter Jenna has had, Pete has a Bum Fight Club or Olympic disaster. So in that way, we differ. I’ve made better choices. I’ve also never had a wife or kids, which are a big part of Pete’s definition. I don’t avoid my family nor live my life as a coiled spring of panic, like Pete. His life is a list of regrets and missed opportunities, I’m a little luckier than Pete. The ways we’re alike would be our affection for Liz/Tina. We’re both very close with those women. Often, when you see the whole room dissing Liz or ridiculing her for some reason, if you look at Pete, he’s usually empathetic toward her. And when she triumphs, no one is prouder than Pete.
Obviously, it all comes from real encounters and situations. Mostly. I don’t recall a story from SNL’s history where Kelsey Grammer formulates a plan to make the producer look like a self-asphyxiating masturbator, but maybe I should talk to Lorne more often.
Can you tell us a bit about Reflections From the Heart of A Child? Are you often recognized for this video, and if so, how awkward is that?
It’s mentioned on my Wikipedia, as you may have discovered, so it comes up occasionally. It’s an educational film for the families of physical and alcohol abuse. It was one of my first on camera jobs, years and years ago and I played an abusive father who drank and took his frustrations out on his family. I was a nasty, violent guy. I know it’s still used as an educational tool and I imagine it’s helped a lot of people after all this time, so I’m proud of that. As a matter of fact, just this week Cecily Strong of SNL (whom I know from Second City) informed me that we’re actually castmates in that film. We never met during production, but we’re both in there, mending hearts and fixing families. It’s still out in the world, on school shelves and in recovery center dayrooms, but I’ve never actually been approached by anyone thanking me for changing their situations at home. I have, though, had a few drunks punch me and put their cigarettes out on my face for exposing them, so there’s that.
What would you say his your most prized performance in your career on a personal level?
Early in my days at Second City, I was in the touring company and we would perform on the Mainstage every Monday, when the resident cast had the night off. Now, in those days, I was 21, living check to check and facing a career that quite often never faces you back, so my future was hopeful and bleak. My mother, Genny, never doubted me or my prospects as an actor, however my father, Andy, was a lawyer, like his father and grandfather, and he always felt a little worried that I was embarking on something with no stability nor guarantees as a means of living. And certainly, he had no ins in show business like he had in law business, so he worried that he couldn’t ever give me a leg up or a healthy dose of nepotism. And while he supported every amateur play or show I ever did, he was a bit suspect of whether I had the talent to make it a career; the one thing he did know about acting was that it was brutal. But then, one Monday night on that Second City stage, I had the crowd of over three hundred laughing really pretty uproariously, acting in some scene, I don’t remember which. And rising above that wall of laughter, I heard my dad laughing harder than anyone. And I actually caught a quick look at him sitting at that tiny, cabaret table, just crying with laughter, trying to adjust himself so that he didn’t fall over. And I knew that he knew I was going to be alright. He never worried again. That was my favorite performance.
If you could portray any renowned corrupt politician in history, who would it be? Why?
Reagan. Because he got away with it.
What was the last thing that made you smile?
I just attended the SAG Awards recently and they gave Dick Van Dyke a Lifetime Achievement trophy and I’ll tell you he’s one of my all time heroes. He’s on a very short list. And there I was in the same room with him. The guy is 87 hear old and when Baldwin called him to the podium, he nearly danced up the steps to the stage. Flawless, weightless, joyful. He’s still today the man I loved since I could turn on a TV.