NBC's Parks and Recreation showcases TV's most awesome assemblage of comedians with Amy Poehler, Chris Pratt, Aubrey Plaza, Aziz Ansari, Retta and Nick Offerman each delivering Emmy worthy performances this year. A season that placed renewed interest in eliciting, in equal measure, laughs and tears. Those emotions solely stemmed from the beautifully written courtship between Ben and Leslie.
And while it may not be easy playing the straight(er) man on a sitcom, Adam Scott made it look effortless thanks to expressive eyes that say more in one glance than most actors can in a whole episode and a unearthed well of emotion that could fill four Nicholas Sparks weepies. ETonline chatted with Scott about Ben's evolution, his future political aspirations and the pleasant pressure that comes from being one half of the heart fueling TV's most enjoyable sitcom.
ETonline: Parks and Recreation had fans laughing one second and crying the next this season. Did that development surprise you? Adam Scott: It's funny because I too felt weirdly wrapped up in all the characters even though I'm acutely aware of how fictional they are as a result of playing one. I think the writers have done such an incredible job of creating these lovely people while maintaining a volume of jokes that's just incredible. I felt that way even before I started on the show, so it was very surreal to step into this world a few years ago.
ETonline: Looking back on Ben and Leslie's relationship, what did you think about how things played out? Scott: It's funny, there was a rerun on the other night from the first half of the season and I'd forgotten that Leslie and Ben had no contact after breaking up in the premiere. Mike [Schur, executive producer] really kept us apart for a long time -- until we got back together in The Smallest Park [episode 8]. I think keeping the characters apart was an interesting way to build the strength of the relationship. It let the audience really feel what a tough time these people have living without one another. You don't realize because they do it in such a funny way, but it makes you see they are most likely the love of one another's lives.
ETonline: Up until this year, Ben mostly served as a function of Leslie's storyline -- but season four really developed him as a character. What intrigued you during the process of exploring Ben? Scott: I loved that their breakup allowed Ben the time to find his place in the town and his own identity within this world before getting back with Leslie. It was healthy and eventually helped him make the decision to become her campaign manager. I don't think Ben was going to leave Pawnee, but had Leslie not swooped in and asked him to be her campaign manager, I'm not sure what he could have done. I mean, Ben was getting into weird stuff with Claymation and Calzones [laughs]. But I feel like even if Leslie hadn't come in, Ben would have stayed and figured out something to do instead of waiting around for her.
ETonline: Episodes like the one you mentioned really let Ben, who is very much the straight man on Parks & Rec, have some broad comedic moments. Were you glad to flex that muscle? Scott: Totally. It's always fun to get to do stuff like that, or the Treat Yourself episode. I feel so lucky to be on a show that really allows me to play both sides. It's one of the great joys of being on the show. Since they're real characters, everyone gets to have their crazy moments as well as grounded moments.
ETonline: Given how far Ben and Leslie's relationship came over the course of season four, what does this potential job in D.C. signify for you? Scott: I think that they both have a lot of faith in their relationship now. He was willing to sacrifice things for her campaign, and in the finale, she returned the favor by being willing to make a sacrifice for his career as well. I think it's entirely possible that he could take the job. And I'm excited by that idea. Especially to see how the two of them behave in Washington, D.C. – that's like placing Mikey & Minnie Mouse in Disney World for the first time ever.
ETonline: Would you like to see Ben's political aspirations coming back to the surface as a result of working on Leslie's campaign? Scott: I think he's deeply scarred by what happened to him as a teenager. But in the very first episode I ever did, Leslie and Ben have a beer, where he's able to recognize immediately she wants to run for higher office. She's kind of taken aback by Ben seeing that having not known her at all. I think that showed it takes one to know one and that sort of ambition never really dies in a person. But it takes a process to get back there after something as traumatic and embarrassing. It's an evolution. So we'll see!