Interview: Scott Coffey from "Adult World"

Photo Credit: © Courtesy of Tribeca Film Festival
February 18th, 2014

Actor/Director Scott Coffey spent the first years of his career in front of a camera in films like‭ ‬“Mulholland Dr.‭”‬,‭ ‬“Ferris Bueller‭’‬s Day Off‭”‬,‭ ‬and‭ ‬“Lost Highway‭”‬.‭ ‬These days Scott is spending his time behind the camera and has just released his new film‭ ‬“Adult World‭”‬ starring John Cusack and Emma Roberts.‭ ‬Scott sat down with us here at Movie Room Reviews and told us all about making this film,‭ ‬and working with these wonderful actors.

‬Nick Leyland from Movie Room Reviews:‭ ‬Hey,‭ ‬well,‭ ‬I just got done watching your movie,‭ "‬Adult World‭" ‬and you're the director of it.‭ ‬It stars Emma‭ ‬Roberts and Evan Peters,‭ ‬and co-stars,‭ ‬one of my favorites,‭ ‬Cloris Leachman and John Cusack.‭ ‬I've seen a lot of films with John Cusack over the last couple weeks he did‭ "‬Grand Piano‭" ‬and‭ "‬The Bag Man‭" ‬and now this.‭ ‬It came out on Valentine‭’‬s Day,‭ ‬right‭?

Scott Coffey:‭ ‬Yeah,‭ ‬on VOD and yeah,‭ ‬and in New York and LA,‭ ‬but otherwise it'll be available to everybody on Video On Demand,‭ ‬like iTunes and Amazon and In Demand and On Demand and all that stuff‭; ‬regular cable channels.‭

MRR:‭ ‬Well,‭ ‬for our audience out there do you think you could explain a little bit about the film.‭ ‬Because when I watched it,‭ ‬it brought back a lot of nostalgia for me when I left college.‭ ‬So,‭ ‬could you kind of tell our audience about it‭?

Scott Coffey:‭ ‬Yeah sure.‭ ‬It's about a moment between sort of becoming an adult and leaving your childhood‭ ‬behind to become an adult.‭ ‬And it's that moment where you still have that incredible amount of confidence,‭ ‬and you think you can do anything in the world and that you figure you're sort of powerful and special and amazing.‭ ‬And everybody sort of has the moment when they realize that maybe they're not,‭ ‬as sort of incredible as they think they are.‭ ‬And I think that part of the American Dream‭ ‬has been you could sort of do anything you want to,‭ ‬anything with your life no matter what that it is that you choose.‭ ‬And to a certain extent that's true,‭ ‬but that kind of big giant idea what the American Dream is tarnished a little bit.‭

‬I think people still sort of tell their kids that they're special,‭ ‬and incredible,‭ ‬and perfect,‭ ‬and they can do anything they want‭ ‬to.‭ ‬And sometimes,‭ ‬that's great,‭ ‬but‭ ‬sometimes it can meddle with people.‭ ‬It's a story of a young woman who is over-educated and comes out into a world that‭’‬s not ready.‭ ‬That doesn't have any jobs for her and she thinks she can make a living being a poet and that's not the most realistic way,‭ ‬to sort of get about in life.‭ ‬Poetry is a great wonderful thing,‭ ‬but it‭’‬s unfortunate that we don't live in a society that recognizes how important poetry is.‭ ‬I think,‭ ‬she sort of comes up against that.‭ ‬But that's thematically kind of what,‭ ‬the movie's about.‭ ‬It's a story of a young woman finding love for the first time and a sense of herself,‭ ‬and becoming an adult.‭ ‬And,‭ ‬all that kind of great stuff.‭

MRR:‭ ‬There's a few scenes in the film that I really enjoyed.‭ ‬And the one that just hits you so hard,‭ ‬now that I'm older,‭ ‬is when the dad's talking to her about how she has‭ ‬$90,000‭ ‬in student loans,‭ ‬and she's trying to be a poet.‭ ‬And I think,‭ ‬that's such a hard reality for so many college kids.‭

‬Scott Coffey:‭ ‬Right.‭ ‬I think,‭ ‬that realizing that suddenly you know,‭ ‬what you've done,‭ ‬it affects other people.‭ ‬It's a really hard thing.‭ ‬I think it's a really difficult thing,‭ ‬especially now,‭ ‬when the economy's hard and bad,‭ ‬and kids are trying and parents are trying to put their kids through school,‭ ‬and they've mounted insurmountable amounts of debt,‭ ‬and suddenly they have to like,‭ ‬pay that off,‭ ‬and get a job,‭ ‬and there aren't the kind of jobs that they've been trained to do,‭ ‬and that they're prepared for.‭ ‬It's a cold reality‭ ‬they have to face.‭ ‬And I'm really empathetic about that and sympathetic to that character.‭

MRR:‭ ‬Now,‭ ‬let's talk a minute here about John Cusack's character,‭ ‬who,‭ ‬through the movie,‭ ‬I,‭ ‬actually,‭ ‬had thought that maybe he was just a part of her conscience.‭ ‬Like,‭ ‬a part of her that was like the devil on the shoulder,‭ ‬you know what I'm saying‭? ‬Kind of saying no,‭ ‬no,‭ ‬no.‭

Scott Coffey:‭ ‬Right.‭ ‬Yeah.‭

MRR:‭ ‬Can you explain his character a little bit‭?

Scott Coffey:‭ ‬Sure.‭ ‬He was very successful at a time,‭ ‬when that success was probably very earned.‭ ‬And he probably had to work very,‭ ‬very,‭ ‬very hard at it.‭ ‬And he was genuinely talented and an outsider.‭ ‬And somebody that probably didn't fit in society the way that most people do.‭ ‬And I think that to get his work seen,‭ ‬it was very difficult.‭ ‬To sell books and to get people to notice him.‭ ‬I think like,‭ ‬suddenly,‭ ‬this new generation of people that can find anything on the Internet,‭ ‬and think they can do sort of anything and people,‭ ‬desperately,‭ ‬wanting to be famous.‭ ‬That‭ ‬really rubs him the wrong way and he has a really hard time with that.‭ ‬I think he likes this girl but she's a symptom of a really different culture and different time.‭ ‬But I think that's hard for him to reconcile the realities that this new era that he's‭ ‬living in.‭

‬And,‭ ‬I think that,‭ ‬he's sad that he's not writing work that people are connecting with.‭ ‬That the world that he grew up in,‭ ‬and the world that he did his work in,‭ ‬isn't around anymore,‭ ‬it's hard.‭ ‬Book stores are closing and record stores are closing and all those things that were very important in his life,‭ ‬they don't exist anymore.‭ ‬They're relics of a different era.‭ ‬And I think that's been hard for him.‭ ‬He's a very sensitive guy and it's been tough for him.‭ ‬And I think that this kind of annoying‭ ‬young girl that's in his face is bringing a lot out in him that's upsetting that he has to sort of try to deal with.‭ ‬But then,‭ ‬he starts to realize that he likes her,‭ ‬and that maybe she's pretty interesting.‭ ‬And kind of takes her under his wing a little bit and has some knowledge to impart on her.‭ ‬He might do it in the wrong way,‭ ‬and he does do it in a very abrupt cruel way.‭ ‬But,‭ ‬I think he does care about her.‭

MRR:‭ ‬Throughout the film you had me wondering if he was doing the right thing or the wrong thing the whole time.‭

Scott Coffey:‭ ‬Yeah,‭ ‬I don't know.‭ ‬It's hard for me to judge.‭ ‬I just know that's what that character is.‭
‬That's a good question.‭ ‬I wonder that too.‭ ‬I think John wonders that.‭

MRR:‭ ‬Now you added a very big part of the film in terms of comic relief with Cloris Leachman owning an adult book store.‭ ‬Tell me about her‭ '‬cause I've interviewed her before and she's hilarious.‭ ‬Tell me about her being around a bunch of adult videos and toys.‭ ‬I bet that'd be hilarious.‭

Scott Coffey:‭ ‬So funny,‭ ‬so hilarious‭! ‬I mean she wanted to experiment with everything.‭ ‬She is just so much fun‭; ‬so hilarious.‭ ‬It's a very big part,‭ ‬and she really brought so much to it.‭ ‬And she was just really a wonderful actress and I loved working with her.‭ ‬She was just fantastic.‭

MRR:‭ ‬Throughout your career you‭'‬ve been an actor and now you've started doing directing a little bit,‭ ‬why have you started doing directing‭?

Scott Coffey:‭ ‬I got bored of being an actor.‭ ‬I wasn't getting the kind of roles that I really wanted to do.‭ ‬I didn't really wanna be on a TV show that I didn't love,‭ ‬and I just got burned out.‭ ‬I always wanted to make movies and I'm much happier being a writer and director‭; ‬it's much more fun for me.‭ ‬I wasn't the most comfortable actor ever and I respect acting and I‭ ‬love actors so much and I know what it takes to be a great great actor but I didn't feel willing to give‭ ‬100%‭ ‬of myself to that,‭ ‬but I am to directing.‭

MRR:‭ ‬Now is it easier to relate to the actors then while you're directing‭? ‬Are they more willing to follow your direction‭?

‬Scott Coffey:‭ ‬I think so,‭ ‬yeah I do.‭ ‬I think I have an empathy for how an actor feels on a set and what's a good way to talk to them and a good language to speak to them in.‭ ‬I think all that stuff really helps.‭

MRR:‭ ‬Now making a movie like this,‭ ‬what I would like to know is that it's on a smaller budget,‭ ‬so what are some of the positives about making a movie like‭ "‬Adult World‭"‬,‭ ‬and what are some of the hard compromises you have to make‭?

‬Scott Coffey:‭ ‬Well,‭ ‬the positive things are it could be a little bit of an edgier movie.‭ ‬It could be something that maybe isn't as big of a mainstream kind.‭ ‬I didn't have to adhere to the lowest common denominator.‭ ‬I got to sort of make the movie I want to make in a lot of ways because of how small‭ ‬the budget was.‭ ‬So,‭ ‬the content of it could be a little bit stranger and a little bit more a sort of unusual and makes it a little more personal but I think that the challenges of it is just that it was hard.‭ ‬We didn't have very much time,‭ ‬and we didn't have very much money,‭ ‬and it was hard to shoot under those conditions where you didn't have a lot of the approval that I wish I had and the amount of lights and the amount of time and all that kind of stuff.‭

MRR:‭ ‬To have like a smaller budget and to have such huge stars involved with it,‭ ‬is that something that would have been able to be done‭ ‬20‭ ‬or‭ ‬30‭ ‬years ago‭?

Scott Coffey:‭ ‬Well,‭ ‬here's what's going on.‭ ‬20‭ ‬or‭ ‬30‭ ‬years ago,‭ ‬Hollywood was making very different kinds of movies than they are now.‭ ‬Most of the movies that come out from studios for eight months of the year are giant,‭ ‬big,‭ ‬huge ten-fold movies that are either sequels or based on fantasy things or comic books.‭ ‬And movies like‭ "‬Erin Brockovich‭" ‬and a lot of the movies that studios made‭ ‬20‭ ‬or‭ ‬30‭ ‬years ago aren't being made by studios now.‭ ‬They've become independent movies.‭ ‬They've migrated,‭ ‬there are some exceptions,‭ ‬but for the most part all the kinds of movies that all those that we saw sort of‭ ‬20‭ ‬or‭ ‬30‭ ‬years ago have become independent movies.‭

‬So‭ ‬when actors wanna work...‭ ‬And John Cusack doesn't wanna put on tights and be in a stupid superhero movie.‭ ‬He wants to play a character that's interesting and rich and complicated,‭ ‬and I think this was a really great,‭ ‬great thing for him to do.‭ ‬And we worked in a way that was really fun.‭ ‬And you don't get to work that way on a big,‭ ‬giant,‭ ‬studio movie.‭ ‬We played,‭ ‬we rewrote the script while we were shooting,‭ ‬we improved things and we tried different ways.‭ ‬When you're making a big studio movie you kind of come in and take your mark and say your lines,‭ ‬and that's it.‭ ‬And that's what studio movies are,‭ ‬and I think that that's not very appealing and fun for an actor.‭ ‬It certainly isn't very challenging.‭ ‬So,‭ ‬actors want to do the work and do interesting things,‭ ‬and this is a really fun way to do it.‭ ‬And I think TV is a really great,‭ ‬place for things to go now too.‭ ‬A lot of independent things that TV is doing now,‭ ‬maybe those things would've been independent films or studio movies‭ ‬20‭ ‬or‭ ‬30‭ ‬years ago.‭

MRR:‭ ‬Well,‭ ‬my last question to you is how the audience has been responding to the film so far and who do you think is really gonna enjoy this film‭?

Scott Coffey:‭ ‬We've gotten really good responses so far.‭ ‬People are really loving‭ ‬it.‭ ‬It's been really,‭ ‬really great,‭ ‬I'm really excited.‭ ‬And our response has been great so far.‭ ‬People seem to really love it.‭ ‬It's been on On Demand for a while,‭ ‬and that's been really successful,‭ ‬and now it's on VOD and iTunes and Amazon and all those places.‭ ‬So yeah,‭ ‬it's been really fun.‭ ‬I couldn't be happier with it.‭

MRR:‭ ‬Sweet.‭ ‬Well thank you so much Scott for talking with me.‭ ‬I really appreciate it.‭

Scott Coffey:‭ ‬Thank you.‭