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Taking Off Reel Fast!

02.21.03 (The Toronto Sun)

Toronto actor Scott Speedman is not worried that he's still a small fish in the big Hollywood ocean.

Speedman, 27, knows how to swim. His Scottish parents were both athletes, and it was assumed he would be, too.

"I trained to be a competitive swimmer. I came ninth in the Olympic trials in 1992," says Speedman, who stars as Kurt Russell's partner in the gritty police drama Dark Blue.

Speedman's parents moved to Toronto, and because he was a gifted swimmer, he was enrolled in special schools for athletes and artists. When he had to abandon the sport after an injury, he was rejected by the jocks as a failure. Speedman then began to hang out with the actors in his school, where he 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 was for a role in the TV series Kung Fu: The Legend Continues. "I lied about everything. 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 a vengeance, landing small roles in other films and TV shows shooting in Toronto. His first major film role was in The Kitchen Party, in 1996.
The next year, 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, 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, is about a rookie cop who discovers that his seasoned partner plays by 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."

In 1999, Speedman was a last minute replacement for Brad Pitt on the karaoke movie Duets that filmed in Vancouver. Gwyneth Paltrow's father, the late Bruce Paltrow, was directing. When Paltrow and Pitt split up, Duets was in limbo until Speedman came on board.

Rumours abounded that he and Paltrow had a fling during the filming. "Not a word of truth to that rumour, though it didn't hurt my reputation when it was out there for a while," says Speedman. He says he is not involved with anyone at the moment.

"My sex life is pretty dull. Not many dates. No marriage proposals, but I still do get Felicity fan mail."

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

He still boasts his swimmer's body, but says "that's from playing basketball. I finally learned how, and really took to the sport. I'm in leagues in both LA and Toronto." But he doesn't swim anymore. "The only time I like getting in water these days is if it's in a hot tub."


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