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First-time Emmy-nominee Adam Scott on transcending genres with Severance

It’s almost too easy to put Adam Scott in the funny-man box. And deservedly so. From Party Down to Step Brothers to Parks And Recreation, the actor has crafted an impressive resume of comedic roles over the years. But with Apple TV+’s hit Severance, he breaks type with a gut-wrenching performance that has earned him his first Emmy nomination.

Created by Dan Erickson and co-produced by Ben Stiller, the psychological thriller Severance follows employees of a conglomerate called Lumon who have voluntarily severed their personal memories while in the office, taking the idea of work-life balance to an extreme level. Scott plays Mark Scout, whose outside version is grieving the death of his wife while “Innie” Mark S. is slowly coming to terms with Lumon’s villainy.

It was that very duality that was one of the most striking aspects of the role, Scott recently told The A.V. Club. Our chat with the actor also touched on landing the part, consciously exploring projects outside the comedy umbrella, and channeling personal experience into each character he plays. The A.V. Club: You’ve done a wide range of genres, but you’re still best known for comedies. Were you looking to change things up with another drama role post-Big Little Lies when Severance came along?

Adam Scott: Yes, somewhat. After Parks And Recreation ended, I wasn’t sure what to do next. I had never been in a position of being on a TV show for such a long time. I was leaving it with more opportunities than I had going in. Parks was a life-changer for me. I didn’t know what to do next but thought I might try something less in the comedy sphere, so I went after the Big Little Lies role. I really pursued that and was thrilled to be a part of it. After Parks, it was also hard to be considered for anything other than comedy. I had to really fight for Big Little Lies, and I auditioned and read a couple of times to prove myself. Doing that was really fun and creatively satisfying. I wanted to keep going in that direction. It’s not like I wanted to abandon comedy, but I wanted to try everything and go after material that appealed to me.

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