DIGGING FOR LAUGHS
Talking Honesty, Inspiration, and Fart Jokes, with Actor REID SCOTT
By Jonathan Metzelaar
Starring alongside actresses like Laura Linney and Julia Louis-Dreyfus is a tall order for any actor; their incredible talent and powerful personalities tend to overshadow the performances occurring around them, especially if those performances are in any way below par. Actor Reid Scott, however, has met this challenge in two separate instances, first opposite Linney in The Big C, and now alongside Louis-Dreyfus in Veep. Wielding his charm and spot-on comedic timing, Scott managed to deliver hilarious and memorable performances on both occasions. He was kind enough to talk a bit about his beginnings, his inspiration, and the inherent challenges of comedic roles.
Jonathan Metzelaar: When did you decide you wanted to become an actor?
Reid Scott: I actually started out wanting to be a director and writer. The acting part happened sort of by accident. I was pursuing it certainly, but I was also constantly driving my agent nuts by turning down auditions because, “I was this close to cracking act three on this play I’m writing,” or something like that. I’m still kind of shocked I booked my first few gigs.
JM: You’ve acted in both comedic and non-comedic roles in your career. Which do you find more challenging, and why?
RS: Comedy is always more challenging. To make someone laugh, an audience, is incredibly difficult. What’s funny to you may not register at all with them. There’s so much truth in comedy you really have to dig down deep, play it from a place of honesty, and then honor that contract with the audience. That’s probably the least funny explanation to a question about comedy ever. Sorry. Fart joke! There we go.
JM: What are you generally looking for when choosing a role?
RS: At this point I’m looking for roles on projects with the best catering. Kidding. I try to pick projects with characters that either stretch me creatively, or give me an opportunity to showcase a side of myself that may go unseen otherwise.
JM: Having a sitcom set in a political environment is, to my knowledge, something that has rarely been done before Veep. What else would you say sets Veep apart from other comedies?
RS: The swearing? And maybe the fact that it’s a comedy about American politics written entirely by Brits. It’s been a trip to be a part of a story told from such an outside perspective. It really makes you step back and appreciate the absurdity of our political system in a whole new way. This is the way the world sees us. Yikes.
JM: Having worked on shows like The Big C, All My Children, and Veep, you’ve had the chance to work with a lot of talented actors and comedians. Do you ever get starstruck? Who have you enjoyed working with the most, or learned the most from?
RS: I’ve had a few star struck moments. Laura Linney of course. And Liam Neeson when he guest starred on The Big C was pretty f-ing cool too. I try to learn as much as I can from whomever I’m working with. Everyone has something different going on, something specific that only they can bring. If you keep your eyes open you can see all their little tricks and then make them your own. On Veep I literally study Julia, Tony and Matt like I’m in class. Those guys are immensely talented.
JM: Who are some actors that you admire and/or are inspired by?
RS: My mom raised me to admire Paul Newman, and my dad was a big Spencer Tracy fan. I’d say of the old school those two are my inspiration. Of the new school I look to Mark Ruffalo, Sam Rockwell and George Clooney. Those are the guys I’m gunning for.
JM: What are you working on at the moment, and do you have any upcoming projects that you’d like people to know about?
RS: Two movies and a cartoon, actually. Losing Control and Missing William are two indies I did that will be rolling out soon, and Motorcity is the animated series I’m doing for Disney XD–nerds rejoice, it’s awesome. I’ve got a few more things in the pipe as well, but mostly just enjoying my time off right now. And still working on act three of that play…
Reid Scott is a Los Angeles-based actor who has starred in All My Children, The Big C, and new HBO comedy series Veep, among others. He can also be seen in upcoming films Losing Control and Missing Williams.
Written and Edited by Jonathan Metzelaar
Photography Courtesy of Manfred Baumann
Design by Marie Havens
Reid Scott, 2012, Photography Courtesy Manfred Baumann