Life Going Swimmingly
(The Saskatoon Star Phoenix:
CENTURY CITY, Calif. -- Scott Speedman
says it's funny the way things turn out.
He's just completed four years on the television series Felicity --
in the role of Ben Covington, the hunk who captures the heart of
Keri Russell's Felicity Porter.
He has just opened in movie houses in Dark Blue, playing an
idealistic young Los Angeles cop caught up in a morass of
corruption. He has another high-profile movie coming up with the
sophisticated horror thriller, Underworld, in which he costars with
Kate Beckinsale. He's excited as well about the Vancouver-filmed My
Life Without Me, in which he and Sarah Polley play a young couple
faced with unexpected tragedy.
The 27-year-old Canadian's acting star is in the ascendant. He's
starting to cope with being recognized on the street, which he
describes as a "terrifying life experience." But he also
says this isn't how it was supposed to be -- or so he thought a
decade ago back in Toronto when his only ambition was to be a
Speedman was born in London and moved to Toronto at the age
of three when Britain's huge Marks and Spencer department store
chain expanded overseas and his Scottish father was placed in charge
of the company's Canadian operation. He grew up in a household
immersed in athletics -- his mother, Mary Campbell, was a world
record holder in indoor running, his father was also a keen
sprinter, and young Scott quickly revealed a talent for swimming.
At 12, he was part of a relay swim team that held the 400-metre
national record. At 16, as a member of the Canadian Junior National
Swim Team, he participated in the Olympic trials -- and performed
well. But then a neck injury ended his Olympic aspirations.
"It was just overtraining," he says now. Speedman
was devastated at the time, but such was his nature that he was
driven to seek a new and demanding career goal. He found one when he
went on a local TV show on a dare. He discovered he enjoyed acting.
"The opportunity came up to put my energies in this direction
-- acting -- and I just kind of ran with it, and it was only over an
amount of time that I became obsessed with it and started to love
He won a role in a short feature film, Can I Get A Witness, which
was developed at Toronto's Norman Jewison Film Centre. This led to
the lead in a Canadian feature, The Kitchen Party. Determined to
hone his acting craft further, Speedman began studying at New
York's Neighbourhood Playhouse, and finally -- with great
trepidation -- tried out for the role of Robin in Batman And Robin.
Chris O'Donnell got the part, but Speedman's audition landed
him an agent and led to a starring role in Felicity. The young actor
says he owes everything to that series.
"Without Felicity, there would be no Dark Blue. There would be
no Underworld. All these things stem from Felicity. It was great for
me. I loved every minute I was on that show."
What he really loved were the cast and crew members -- at one point
he was romantically linked with costar Keri Russell -- but he was
less enamoured with the overall TV experience because it offended
the discipline instilled in him during his years as a champion
swimmer. In fact, he wasn't even a TV fan growing up and still isn't
"I don't watch a lot of television. I never did as a kid
growing up. I always went to movies with my family -- I loved going
to movies." He no longer wants a television-based career.
"I don't want to do television just to work. I want to get
better at what I do . . . I think you can learn a lot of bad habits
He reiterates that he's not trashing Felicity specifically. "I
wasn't sick of that show. I miss those people and doing that show
tremendously." But he still insists that a TV series can cocoon
an actor too much and make him lazy.
During his 2000 summer hiatus from Felicity, he returned to Toronto
to go on stage for the first time, playing an emotionally troubled
young man in a revival of Edward Albee's The Zoo Story.
"I'd done a full year on television, and I'd never been on
stage and I basically decided to terrify myself. So I went to do a
play. That was a great experience -- so I want to do more of
Dark Blue offered another kind of opportunity. Speedman was
still doing Felicity when he read the script for the United Artists
film and decided to go after the role of a rookie cop whose belief
in the honour and integrity of the force is shattered by his
association with a tough, unscrupulous veteran played by Kurt
"I auditioned a bunch of times and got it," says Speedman,
who stresses that winning the role was no piece of cake. "It's
not like I had offers or anything like that. The good stuff --
you're going to have to fight for it."
An accelerating movie career hasn't changed Speedman's
lifestyle. He still drives a Honda Civic and refuses to buy a more
expensive car. He doesn't own a lot of clothes. He's not a party
animal, shuns the trendy Hollywood clubs, and won't discuss current
"I don't play into that stuff."