‘Parks and Recreation’: Adam Scott Almost Played Rashida Jones’ Love Interest in the Series

Sit-com Parks and Recreation has gained so many fans throughout the years that it’s almost reached a cult-classic status, much like the show it was originally a spinoff of, The Office. The show, which originally aired from 2009 to 2015, now able to be streamed on Netflix, creating a whole new generation of fans. The many awards heaped onto Parks and Recreation speak to its brilliant comedic genius, which is to be expected from stars and writers like Amy Poehler and Rob Lowe.

Actor Adam Scott was a series regular on Parks and Recreation playing one of the most hilarious characters on the show, but fans found out recently that Ben wasn’t the original role that Scott auditioned for! The Parks and Rec universe could have looked very different if he’d gotten the original role he wanted. So what character did Adam Scott really want to play?

What is ‘Parks and Recreation’ about?

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Parks and Recreation is set in a small government (you guessed it — the parks and recreation department) office in a small town in Indiana. If that sounds boring to you, then you’ve probably never watched an episode of the show.

Much like The OfficeParks and Rec features veteran comic actors who make even the most ordinary moments hilarious. Some of the show’s most celebrated stars include Amy Poehler of Saturday Night Live, Rob Lowe, Aziz Ansari, and Aubrey Plaza. 

Poehler plays the protagonist, Leslie Knope, who is the director of the government office, and has to deal with the crazy (but hilarious) antics of her fellow public officials, although she is pretty absurd herself. The show is at its core a political satire about government bureaucracy, but it’s also about friendship, camaraderie, and love.

Who is Adam Scott, and who did he play on ‘Parks and Recreation’?

Perhaps the first time that Scott’s name really started making its way into the mainstream was with his role on Parks and Recreation, but he was acting long before then. He started in small roles way back in the 90s in shows like Boy Meets World.

Since Parks and Recreation ended, his most notable performance has been on The Good Place, where — although he plays a demon — he’s really gotten the opportunity to keep showing off his comedy chops.

On Parks and Recreation, Scott plays Ben Wyatt, a state auditor who has come to evaluate the government office. Ben becomes more important in the series when he dates and later marries Leslie Knope, the protagonist. Scott plays the serious, blunt, sometimes passive-aggressive Ben perfectly. So perfectly, in fact, that we can’t imagine him in any other role.

Scott originally auditioned for another role

Parks and Rec
Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope, Adam Scott as Ben Wyatt Danny Feld/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

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However, Ben Wyatt actually wasn’t the original role that Scott auditioned for. Scott explained to GQ in 2011 that he was originally reading for the same parts that costar Nick Offerman was.

“Nick [Offerman] and I were reading the same scenes when we were going in and auditioning,” he said.

Considering that Offerman has stated that he originally auditioned for the part of Rashida Jones’ love interest, Mark Brendanawicz, it follows that there could have been a Scott and Jones love story. That would have been a couple we would have liked to see.

Actually, Scott almost didn’t make it onto the Parks and Recreation cast at all. He told GQ, “I actually auditioned for it before it was even on the air. I really wanted it and didn’t get it; I actually kind of blew it, and so I was obviously pretty upset—I really wanted to be a part of it from the beginning.” Luckily for us, he got another chance. It wouldn’t be Parks and Recreation without Ben Wyatt!