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Movieline:  The Outsider On the Inside

March/April 2003

I find it peculiar that Scott Speedman doesn't own a cell phone. After all, he's a hot young actor who has jus finished a run with a successful TV series and is looking to carve out a career for himself on the big screen. What if Steven Soderbergh calls?

"My agent has been trying to get me to buy one," admits Speedman, who rose to fame playing brooding Ben Covington on the WB drama "Felicity." "But I really don't want to."

"Is it a matter of principle?" I ask. "If you get a cell phone, then they win -- you're a slave to Hollywood?"

"Maybe," the London-born, Toronto-raised actor replies between sips of beer on the patio of the Avalon Hotel in Beverly Hills. "But also, I don't think I'd be good with a cell phone because I'd either lose it or it would make me nervous, knowing that someone can always reach me. I don't want to be found all the time."

Just because Speedman doesn't cut deals while swerving down Sunset Blvd. doesn't mean he thinks he's above it all. "It's not like I open my door and there are tons of scripts with offers attached," says the 27-year-old. "I have to go out and really fight for the good things."

Such was the case with Dark Blue , a crooked cop drama from director Ron Shelton. Set during the LA riots and based on a story by crime novelist James Ellroy, Dark Blue stars Kurt Russell as a hot-tempered detective whose years of double-dealing and corruption finally catch up with him while he's trying to solve a high-profile quadruple homicide. Speedman plays his partner, an eager-to-fit-in rookie.

Q: You once said, "I think a lot of people come to LA because they're empty and they want fame because they think it will fill them up." Do you still think that's true?

A: Yeah. It's kind of gross because it's not gonna fill anybody up. My friends look at me and see that I'm just as insecure and neurotic as I was before I had any success. It's just acting. It's not gonna change nothing, man. If anything, it makes it worse.

Q: You've worked with many famous people already, like Gwyneth Paltrow on Duets . What was she like?

A: She knew it was my first movie and she was so cool to me. And she's so damn good. I can't tell you how nice it is to work with good actors. I don't do that a lot, so when I do, it's fun. Duets was a real family affair with her dad directing. It was nice to see a family that cared about each other. I was working in Hungary when I found out about his death. That was rough. he was so good to me.

Q: What about Kurt Russell, your Dark Blue costar?

A: He is a good human being. For being in this business as long as he has, he's got his head screwed on right. He was my favorite part about making that movie.

Q: And then there's Keri Russell, with whom you co-starred on "Felicity" and dated. Do you still talk to her?

A: She's in New York now. I haven't seen anyone since the end of the show because I've been away shooting movies. 

Q: How did you feel about "Felicity" being canceled? Were you ready for it to be over?

A: I wouldn't have liked for it to go on and on, but I'll tell you, the last day on the set I was more emotional than I've ever been. That show totally changed my life and then all of a sudden it was over.

Q: Do "Felicity" fans ever approach you and say crazy things?

A: Yes. They tell me things like, "You have no idea what an asshole you are," and "I really like the other guy better -- you're a dick." It was kind of cool in a way.

Q: Where's the weirdest place you've ever been recognized?

A: In Colorado. There was this river everybody rafted down on tubes. Well, the water had gotten to a super-high, dangerous level, but my best friend and I went in anyway. Everything was fine, but then I started going into the rocks and I freaked out and barely grabbed a branch. Then this girl came over, I thought to save me. Instead, she asked for my autograph. I was like, "Save my ass first!"

Q: What do you predict is going to happen to your character in the "Felicity" reunion TV movie in 10 years?

A: He'll be this fat, bloated loser chasing after 19-year-old freshmen.

Q: Getting back to Dark Blue , it takes place during a scary time -- the LA riots. Where were you when they happened?

A: Probably in a swimming pool somewhere in Canada.

Q: Did you do any research for the role of an LA cop?

A: I went around with an ex-policeman who gave me a lot of information. What I was the most surprised by was the stress of the job. The divorce rate is very high among officers.

Q: Why do you and Kurt sport long hair if you're playing cops?

A: Because we're working undercover.

Q: Like on "Charlie's Angels" when they pretend to be hookers?

A: Well, we never did that, though we thought about it. [laughs]

Q: Is your next movie, Underworld with Kate Beckinsdale a little lighter?

A: Kate plays this kick-ass vampire lady and I'm a werewolf. I had to do a lot of strange things in that movie, like a back flip onto a wall. We used wires and everything. It was exhausting.

Q: You also show the indie My Life Without Me . What's that about?

A: A young woman, played by Sarah Polley, who finds out she has cancer and decides to do things in life she really wanted to do but didn't because she got married young. I play her loving husband, which was really different for me because he wasn't a brooding type.

Q: Are you currently dating anyone?

A: Right now, I'm a single guy. I've been away, so it's not like I've been checking out the LA singles scene.

Q: What do you like to do when you're not working?

A: Play basketball. I've gotten addicted to it.

Q: Have you played with George Clooney?

A: No, but I want to. He's supposed to be really good.

Q: Have you been to the Nike warehouse where all the stars go for free stuff?

A: Yeah, it's such a nice thing. They have an MJ room, and Michael Jordan is my hero.

Q: Have you used your celebrity to meet him?

A: I'm really not good at asking for things like that. If I saw Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant, I'd get giddy and just stare at them. I wouldn't say anything.

Q: Did you like Hollywood when you first moved here?

A: Oh yeah, I had a blast. I did the "Felicity" pilot and then had to stay in town for a few months before the show started. I had a feeling my life was going to change, so I flew my best friend down here. We went to all the parties.

Q: did you visit the Playboy mansion?

A: I've been there, yes. I even peeked my head in the grotto. But my favorite part was seeing all these classic Playboy mansion kind of guys like James Caan and Tony Curtis there.

Q: Your mother and sister are both schoolteachers in Canada. Do you ever pop by their classes as a celebrity guest?

A: I did once at my sister's eighth grade class, but I had to take off because it was disrupting school. It wasn't a planned thing. I just showed up and it got a little crazy.

Q: You know, a simple cell phone call could have made all the difference.

A: It realy could've, but on principle, I'm not gonna do that. If I do, they win. [laughs]

--Dennis Hensley

 


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