A great interview with Scoot McNairy about his new film Sleepless
You may not be familiar with Scoot McNairy, yet he is an actor whose work you may have seen before. He has had roles in films like 12 Years a Slave, Argo, Gone Girl and many others. I was able to ask him a few questions and here is what I learned about this prolific actor.
What got you interested in acting?
Scoot McNairy: Um, great question. As a kid, I always watched movies. I wasn’t a big book reader. So films were sort of my books, and I watched a ton of them. I never thought about going into the entertainment industry. I acted in a film in Austin when I was young, I was 18 years old. I was really into photography at the time, and really became a lot more interested more so in the cinematography and the camera man. So when I finished the film, I went to film school to be a cinematographer.
That is when I moved to California and went to film school out there. I had tinkered with acting before, but never really thought about it or never really wanted to do it that bad. But when I was out in California someone started sending me out on commercials. I was getting hired a lot more to act on commercials and short films and student films. So it sort of just picked me and I think when I was about 27 years old when I realized I wasn’t going to be a cinematographer. That was when I went back to school for acting.
What do you think was the greatest part in getting to play this role in Sleepless?
Scoot McNairy: I enjoyed playing this role in Sleepless because it was something I hadn’t really done before. You know, playing a sort of sick villain. So part of that interested me as well as the film maker. I really loved Bo’s last film and got on with him. We really shared the same sense of humor. So in that regard I really wanted to work with him, thought he was a talented film maker and the role was incredibly appealing. It was just something I hadn’t done before.
What was the biggest challenge for you in playing this character?
Scoot McNairy: I would say getting the courage just to try for it. There was a whole bunch of different ways that they were intending for the character to go. Multiple conversations where they sort of steered me an Bo. The film makers steered them in this other direction. I think at the end of the day, all parties involved were much happier with what we did. But that was probably the biggest challenge, was sort of getting them to say ‘Hold on. Let me do it first before you say no to it’.
What has been your most challenging role to date?
Scoot McNairy: They are all challenging in different ways. Sort of the reason why I pick them. If it’s not challenging, then I am not that interested in it. So they all have their struggles and challenges. It is so hard to say, to be honest with you. The one that is the hardest is the one that I am about to do. That is the one that is on my mind all the time. You know, I just couldn’t tell you. Killing Me Softly was a really tough one. That was a really tough role and a tough shoot. So I will just lay in with that one.
What was it like working with some of the cast?
Scoot McNairy: Oh, they were great. Jamie Foxx is such a joy and delight to have around on set. He doesn’t let the energy of a room go below five, ever. He is constantly cracking jokes and he’s always on the move. He was incredibly nice and incredibly talented. So he was lovely to work with. David Harbour is an incredibly talented individual, he was a lot of fun to work with. Michelle an incredibly talented, wonderful actor and a wonderful person. The whole cast was great. Everybody got on great. Everybody I think had a really good time. I think we all have a lot of fun working in this particular job. On this show everyone was in good spirits and having a lot of fun.
Did you get any bumps or bruises while working on this movie?
Scoot McNairy: Yeah, for sure. You always get a little beat up shooting a movie like this. You know, I still got my youth, a little bit of it. So I don’t mind a little bruising. I ride dirt bikes and race motorcycles. It is nothing worse than taking a spill on a table top.
So what are some upcoming projects you have coming up?
Scoot McNairy: At the present time I have a film that David Michod directed that Plan B produced with Brad called War Machine. It’s a Netflix original and it comes out this summer. I also got a film that is coming out called Aftermath with Arnold Schwarzenneger and directed by Elliot Lester. That releases I think next month. Then there is a mini-series that Scott Frank wrote and directed for Netflix, a Netflix original. A six part mini-series called Godless. Which looks really good, it is an 1880’s western. As well as the season 3 of Fargo that I think is about to release.
What are some roles you would love to play in the near future?
Scoot McNairy: You know, dream roles come in to like hobbies that I have. So as much as it is like ‘Hey, would you like to play this character?’ A dream role for me would be playing an indie car or stock car racer. I would love to race cars for preparation or to train for it. I tend to try to stay away from the dream roles though. Because those things are usually something that is very similar to who I am. I am usually trying to play characters that are further from who I am, that are a little more challenging. I have to do a lot more work to sort of get underneath them. But taking a Nascar racer, that would be more like me taking a break from work for a couple months to go do that.
What is some advice you would give to people who want to get into acting?
Scoot McNairy: Work your ass off. And if you think you are working your ass off, work harder. Do nothing but work, work, work. It is a cutthroat business. Everybody that I’ve known whose done nothing but stick their head down and plow through the work have done really well for themselves. The people who don’t work that hard have not. That is like the best advice I can say to you. Be nice to everybody, work your ass off and don’t give up. Just keep going and eventually if you are really working your ass off, give it like ten years you will find yourself that you will be working.