Jennifer Westfeldt is a hidden gem that most people will only be hearing about with the release of her latest film Friends With Kids – her first directorial effort and her third starring and screenwriting credits following 2001’s critically acclaimed Kissing Jessica Stein and 2006’s Ira and Abby.
The film also stars fellow under-the-radar actor Adam Scott who’s currently starring on TV’s Parks and Rec and has garnered a cult following with his roles in the now-defunct show Party Down and supporting turns in movies like Step Brothers, Knocked Up and Our Idiot Brother.
Recently, we spoke with Jennifer and Adam about parenthood, friendship and how they inspired their new film into fruition. Check it out below.
WGTC: Was any of this film autobiographical?
Jennifer Westfeldt: None of the characters are directly based on anyone in my life. But the kernel of the idea does come from my life — that is, from being out of sync with my peer group, and observing so many friends and people in my sphere making this profound, seismic life transition — and observing the ways in which different people handle that transition, the ways in which the friendship dynamic can shift and morph for a time, the ways in which the romantic relationships can be affected, the way you miss the one on one time you used to have.
Adam Scott: I just know I’m one of the many couples in Jon and Jennifer’s life that had kids and in our particular case; we just dropped off completely because we got so busy and were overwhelmed by child rearing. We dropped off the face of the earth for 6 months.
WGTC: So what was it that inspired you to actually write the movie?
JW: I am lucky that I have so many close girlfriends who were incredibly candid with me about the experience and the identity shift and I noticed a theme or thread in what they all said — they all said that they had never experienced a love as profound or deep or rewarding as the love for a child — and also, that it was the hardest thing that they had ever done. It was that duality that really intrigued me.
WGTC: Adam, what was it about the script that made you want to work on the film?
AS: I was really moved by it because I thought Jennifer really pinpointed what it’s like to have a kid and how it changes you. I was taken aback by it especially since Jen doesn’t have kids of her own, and I was surprised she really got what it feels like to have kids. It’s a great character, a great role, and I was really thrilled that they wanted me to do it. I wasn’t totally sure why, but was more than happy to oblige.
JW: Adam came and read the role at our house the very first night I finished the first draft — we had a group of actors and sat around our dining room table, pasta and wine and a cold table read. Adam was fantastic, as I knew he would be — and after that, I honestly couldn’t picture anyone but him playing this role. I didn’t want to make the movie without him. I think the film is really about Jason, and we needed an actor with tremendous range to pull it off — that’s Adam. I’ve known Adam for fifteen years, and I’ve seen him in almost everything he’s ever done — onstage, on TV, on film. I think he’s just as good as it gets.
WGTC: Was improv encouraged on the set, especially with comedic actors like Kristen Wiig & Maya Rudolph?
JW: I wish we had had time for more improv on this shoot, given the unbelievably talented comic actors we were so lucky to have! But when you are on an indie, up against it every day and not sure if you’ll even make the day, it’s hard to find time for too much of it. It was easier in the two person scenes then in the group ones — just given how many people you have to cover and the time constraints with our budget. But there are definitely some improv that made it into in the cut — maybe 10% of the film?
AS: The set was similar (to TV) in that it moves pretty quickly – we didn’t have much time to shoot it, just like on TV. With TV, we have about 5 days to make a whole episode and here, we had 25 days to make this whole movie. So it was very similar pace-wise with TV.
WGTC: Adam, you once said you still felt like a guest star. Do you still feel the same way? If not, what has changed?
AS: I still kind of operate form that mentality. When I went to Hollywood, I didn’t know anybody and movies and TV was just something I grew up with, thinking it was another world. Even though it’s been 18 yrs, I still feel that way – I can’t believe I get to be on TV sets and movie sets – I really am excited and thankful that this is my job. Every time a job ends, I’m hoping it’s not my last.
WGTC: Jennifer, are you writing anything now?
JW: My next project is a pilot I am attached to co-star in, with Alan Ball (True Blood) Executive Producing — I am teaming up with another writer to write the pilot based on an idea and treatment I sold a year ago (it was put on hold when Friends With Kids got green lit). They have been very patient with me! I am so happy to be diving back into that next.
This concludes our interview. We’d like to thank Jennifer and Adam very much for talking to us. Friends With Kids was released on March 9, 2012.