This weekend, Party Down cast members Adam Scott, Lizzy Caplan, Ken Marino, Martin Starr and Ryan Hansen reunited for a Q&A moderated by Paul Scheer at Cobb's Comedy Club as part of the San Francisco Sketchfest. It was awesome.
From their interactions with each other, I'm convinced the characters they played are not all that different from their actual personalities; the dry wit of Adam Scott, the goofiness of Ken Marino, Lizzy Caplan's sarcasm, and Martin Starr's “stoner” persona all shone through. But fortunately Ryan Hansen is much more much more likeable than his insufferable character, Kyle.
You can't get a bunch of comedic actors together and expect straightforward answers, so most of the questions were answered with banter and bits — but despite that, some sincere information was revealed as well. Here are some highlights:
- Party Down had one of the lowest budgets on any network show ever. The editors had only three days for post-production after filming, which didn't allow for many improvised takes to make it to the final cut, although the actors tried a lot of things. One of the best bits of improvised footage, according to the cast, was Kyle's response to “can you pop a lock?” in the episode “Joel Munt's Big Deal Party.”
- Many party themes were pitched as potential episodes, but were scrapped because of budget, and perhaps would have been seen if the series continued. One of the party ideas was a pet funeral, but animals are more expensive than extras, so it was deemed too expensive. According to Ken Marino, an idea was pitched where in the cold open, he would announce that he had terminal cancer, and after the credits, the cast would be seen coming from his funeral to their next gig. Ron would leave a posthumous video giving them advice, yet still somehow screwing it up — Ron can't even do things right when dead.
- Jennifer Coolidge was never meant to be a full-time replacement for Jane Lynch; her episodes (the last two of the first season) were still intended for Lynch, thus resulting in her playing the same type of character and the last minute idea of making her Constance's roommate. During the gap between filming the pilot and starting subsequent episodes, Lynch filmed the Glee pilot, which was picked up during the filming of the first season. Jennifer Coolidge was great to work with, according to the cast, but subsequently didn't remember working with any of the actors when asked.
- For the second season, the writers wanted a character different than Jane Lynch. Megan Mullally was suggested by Adam Scott because she was the only famous person he knew who actually watched the show. On the first day of shooting, Mullally broke her wrist, and was thus in a cast and peeking in doorways to hide her injuries for the rest of the season.
- After Jane Lynch wrapped her last episode, many of the cast thought it would be funny to hire a (female) stripper for the party, against Ken Marino's wishes. When it got uncomfortable, they blamed the idea on Marino. In Lynch's recent memoir, she relates the story of how Marino humiliated her. Marino has since been wanting to set the record straight.
- Adam Scott was very welcoming to the guest stars and wanted them to feel included, so he would talk to them at lunch and give them a “Hollywood 45”, asking about the highs and lows of their careers. The cast had high praise for all the guest stars, but named Steve Guttenberg as one of the most memorable and nicest to work with. Subsequently, his birthday episode was one of their favorites.
- Ken Marino's favorite episode is when the group caters his high school reunion because it's one of the darkest stories he's ever been in.
- In the episode in which Casey watches one of Henry's films, the production got the rights to one of Adam Scott's older films. A very young Adam Scott appears in the film, because the original film was about fifteen years old at the time of filming.
When asked where they imagined their characters would be now, each of the actors hoped that their characters had found their success, but admitted that it was more likely that were still struggling to find happiness and perhaps, leaving the two seasons to be just a slice of the long struggles of the characters. Adam Scott suggested that Casey would likely find out that she was pregnant with Henry's baby, trapping them in a miserable relationship.
Of course, the most anticipated question of the night is if their was going to be a Party Down movie. “We really don't know,” summarized Adam Scott. Although he said he thinks everyone would be up for a continuation of episodes, as Netflix is doing with Arrested Development, because of the busy schedules and career trajectories of the cast, it really seems unlikely.
If nothing else, the love for Party Down can only help other low-budget, character driven ensemble comedies to be given a chance. And we'll always have those twenty amazing episodes…and maybe (fingers crossed) a movie.
Image via Adam Scott.
Robin Hardwick is a writer based in Oakland, CA.