Reid all about it
Story by Christine Tran
Photo by David Needleman
When you’re talking to Reid Scott, he’ll say things like, “I’m in L.A. It’s a disgusting 74 and sunny right now,” or he’ll tell you, “I’m very very fortunate I’ve been able to have the career I have thus far,” and you’ll quickly learn he’s a fan of repeating words like very very. When you’re talking to Reid Scott, he might even tell you about his adorable pit bull, Bella, whose name often stirs up conversation about vampires. “Everyone asks me, ‘Oh, so you’re a Twilight fan?’ and I say, ‘No. She’s older than Twilight. She’s ten years old!’” Reid Scott will tell you this and more 3,000 miles away, but you’ll feel as if you’re having casual conversation over brunch and coffee, old pals the pair of you. You might even tell him you’re blushing, that you don’t know why but you’re falling in love a little bit, and he’ll laugh and say aw as if he’s genuinely surprised he has this effect on you…and just about everyone else too. That Reid Scott, he’ll charm the pants off just about anybody, and he doesn’t even know it.
Scott, it may surprise you to learn, is only 34-years-old. Young though he looks, he’s quickly become an industry veteran. The Albany-born actor grew up in New York and attended Syracuse University, where he graduated as its first recipient of a dual Theater/Film Directing degree. “That’s actually what I started off doing,” Scott tells me, “or what I intended to start off doing. I was certainly interested [in acting] and certainly I pursued it, but I really wanted to be a director.” Coincidentally, a professor encouraged Scott to try his hand at acting, telling him that if he wanted to direct and work with actors, he should first put himself in their shoes, so Scott heeded the advice and followed suit.
Work came and success soon followed. After appearing in several television commercials, a recurring role on All My Children and off-Broadway productions such as Much Ado About Nothing and Cargo, Scott landed the role he’s perhaps best remembered for today. For four seasons, he starred as dreamboat DJ-turned-business-owner Brendan “Brendo” Dorff in the TBS sitcom My Boys. And though Scott has attributed My Boys with being one of his best experiences and having one of the most memorable casts (he took part in Jamie Kaler’s wedding and attended several christenings of co-workers’ babies), there’s often a pigeonhole danger that can come with playing such a role. Yet somehow, Scott, who’s consistently versatile, has always managed to surprise us.
He plays hunky oncologist Dr. Todd Mauer opposite Laura Linney in The Big C and stars in the new HBO comedy series, Veep, a re-adaptation of the highly successful BBC television sitcom, The Thick of It. Set in the office of a fictional U.S. Vice President played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus and starring Matt Walsh and Anna Chlumsky, Veep allows Scott to channel his less likeable side as Dan Egan, Deputy of Communications at the White House and Bona-fide Asshole, the latter title unofficial. Asked what it’s like playing heartless D.C. political legend Egan, Scott responds, “Surprisingly easy.” He laughs and explains, “I guess you have to say for any actor, whatever character you’re playing, there’s some of you in there. There has to be. So I guess there is some Reid Scott in Dan Egan, but he’s more abrasive and just way meaner than I am, for sure.”
But don’t be fooled into thinking there’s a shred of asshole in Scott. Quite the contrary. Unlike a lot of Hollywood stars, Scott is an active patron of the arts, of the Los Angeles theater scene to be specific. Drawing from his theater background, Scott is currently directing a fresh production of The Elephant Man, a play made famous in 1979 by Bernard Pomerance, earning the top New York theater honors including a Drama Desk Award, a New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award, and a Tony Award for Best Play. Reid was first approached by fellow actor and close friend, Barbar Peerzada, whose passion and love for the project ultimately convinced Reid to take on the role of directing. He tells me, “I’ve been in front of the camera long enough that I’ve been trying to get back and sort of do something, you know, to be the boss as it were. And here it was, this wonderfully safe environment in which to do it. I knew half the cast beforehand. It’s a small theater. It’s something we can experiment and really play and put up something because we love it.”
At one point, Scott even offered up his basement and living room to scene rehearsals, a clear testament to his dedication and commitment, because for Scott and others, the L.A. theater scene has been ‘lacking’ for quite some time. “Our goal for the most part, honestly, is this very L.A. centric kind of movement. A lot of our friends in our circle are very successful actors, directors, designers, performers, what have you, and we said, ‘Wow. We would really be remised if we didn’t put our collective heads together and try to do something great.’” At a recent fundraiser, Scott gave an eye-opening speech with a very clear and powerful message, “I want to be the guy, who in twenty years from now, wakes up and says, ‘We built this thing twenty years ago and look at it now.’” And for Scott, the purpose is simple: In a position that affords him (and many others) access to money, talent and opportunities, he has a duty, as it were, to give back and try and improve the L.A. theater community. “The Elephant Man was sort of the trial run. This was a big production to be our first but we pulled it off, I think, exceptionally well in my own humble opinion.” The L.A. Times, I might inform you, wrote a great review on the Grimy Corps presentation of The Elephant Man. “Humble,” Scott says. He kills me.
When the exceptionally-humble Reid Scott isn’t filming or directing, he can be found hiking the hills of Los Angeles with his named-pre-Twilight pit bull or skiing, snowboarding, and surfing. If you’re lucky, you might even catch him with girlfriend in tow.
“Blondes or brunettes?” I ask him.
Hesitantly and ever the diplomat, Scott answers, “I don’t really have a preference. Blondes have more fun and brunettes are more mysterious. But then again, to me, it’s just lovely window dressing. It doesn’t really matter.”
“Do you have any dating tips?”
“Do always, always, always, always be yourself.” That’s four ‘always’ in case you’re counting.
I ask whether Scott has any advice to pass on to younger actors and directors, and it’s clear he finds satisfaction in sharing the wisdom of his experiences. “Find a community. The support system that you set up early on in your career will pay huge huge dividend. This isn’t about networking. This is about cultivating a repertoire sense among your peers. Work on your support system and just take a long time to get where you want to be, if you ever get there at all. And just keep in mind that you’re never going to be a finished product, you’re always going to be evolving and you’re always going to be changing, and if you’re open to that, then you’re on the right path. This pursuit of perfection is what you’re going for, and you’re never perfect. But the closer you get, the greater the high, and it’s just so damn fun.”
I almost propose marriage. Almost almost.