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Great Scott!

02.23.03 (The Calgary Sun)

Toronto actor Scott Speedman is not worried he's still a small fish in the big Hollywood ocean. Speedman, 27, knows how to swim.

"It was assumed I was going to be a jock. My parents are both athletes. They met at a high school track meet in (their native) Scotland," said Speedman, in a recent interview. "I trained to be a competitive swimmer. I came ninth in the Olympic trials in 1992," said the actor, who stars as Kurt Russell's partner in the police drama Dark Blue, which is now in theatres.

Speedman's parents moved to Toronto where his father became a department store manager.

Because he was a gifted swimmer, Speedman was enrolled in special schools for athletes and artists. He had to abandon the sport when he injured his shoulder and neck.

"My parents and friends were surprised I wasn't as depressed as people assumed I'd be that I had to give up swimming. I was kind of happy to be a kid and attend a real high school and not have to train 11 times a week."

Rejected by the jocks as a failure, Speedman began to hang out with the actors in his school.

"That's where I met Sarah Polley. I didn't act in their plays, but I hung out with them and attended all their shows and even went to some auditions."

One of those auditions was for a role in the David Carradine TV series Kung Fu: The Legend Continues.

"I lied about everything," Speedman recalls.

"I told them I played basketball and that I'd done some acting. It was only after I got the role that the director discovered the truth. Lucky for me he just laughed."

More importantly, Speedman discovered he loved acting and began pursuing it with the same vengeance he had once he hit the water. He landed small roles in other films and TV shows shooting in Toronto but his first major film role was in the drama The Kitchen Party which was shot in Vancouver in 1996.

"(Director) Gary Burns didn't want me for the role. I kept asking him to give me more auditions. I turned into a bit of a stalker and he eventually gave me the role. It's still one of my favourite roles and it was a great experience."

The year after Kitchen Party debuted, Speedman nabbed the role of Ben Covington in Felicity, the WB series that ran for four seasons.

"I've been offered several series since Felicity ended, but I've turned them down because I want to do feature films and I'd really like to go to New York and do some live theatre."

Dark Blue, based on a story by James Ellroy, was written for the screen by David Ayer, who also wrote Training Day. It too is a story of a rookie cop who learns his seasoned partner plays by the most unorthodox rules.

"I grew up watching Kurt Russell so it was pretty cool working with him, especially since he treated me more like an equal than some new kid and he became a friend."

Because Dark Blue is about police corruption at the highest levels, it was filmed without the co-operation of the LAPD. Still, Speedman did get to hang out with Bob Sousa, a former L.A. cop who acted as a consultant on the film.

"The most interesting places Bob took me to were cop bars. We went right at noon during shift change. You get to see a lot of interesting people. It really helped me understand my character."

Last year, Speedman filmed My Life Without Me with his old friend Sarah Polley and recently completed the horror film Underworld in Budapest with Kate Beckinsale.

When he's not filming, Speedman shares his time between Toronto and L.A.

He still boasts his swimmer's body but explains, "that's from playing basketball. I finally learned how and really took to the sport.

"I'm in leagues in both L.A. and Toronto. I no longer swim. I hate it because I suck at it now and that makes me depressed.

"The only time I like getting in water these days is if it's in a hot tub."


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