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Bright Lights: CTV

11.24.98

TOM CLARK: Well, once upon a time there was a teenager named
Scott Speedman. And then one day out of the blue, he decided to seek
fame and fortune in Hollywood. And as luck would have it, his wish
was granted. Well, that's the fairy-tale story of Scott Speedman, an
unknown Canadian who overnight has become a heart- throb idol.
Here's Sandie Rinaldo with a W-Five Hot Shot.


SANDIE RINALDO: The actor: 23-year-old Scott Speedman. The location: a
sound stage in West Hollywood. The scene: an apartment near a
fictitious New York City university. The show: "Felicity". It's a
coming-of-age drama about a 17-year-old who follows an unrequited
high-school love 3,000 miles to college. Scott Speedman is Ben, the
unattainable object of Felicity's desire -- the sensitive, savvy,
sometimes reluctant leading man.


SPEEDMAN: TV was never something I was ever, ever, ever interested
in. This has kind of come to me in a way. I opened myself up to it
and it came. It came to me.


RINALDO: And so it began -- the fairy-tale story of a young man
from Toronto with limited acting experience, a novice who found
himself starring in one of the season's hottest new hits.


Why did you pick Scott Speedman to be Ben?


ABRAMS: Well, we knew we wanted someone from Canada. [laughter]


RINALDO: The man with the sense of humour is J.J. Abrams, the
executive producer and brains behind the show.


ABRAMS: He's incredibly good-looking and incredibly charming, but
you get a sense that Scott is still forming somehow. It's like Scott
has no idea how charming he is.


RUSSELL: Scott's a hotty. Scott's a total hotty.


RINALDO: A what?


RUSSELL: A hotty.


RINALDO: Oh, a hotty -- okay. Keri Russell is Felicity.


RUSSELL: I've never met anybody who has no agenda, especially in
this town. Give me a break. And I was like, yeah, he's literally
that honest.


RINALDO: At any point, did you say to yourself, "I'm not ready for
this"?


SPEEDMAN: Right.


RINALDO: "I don't have the acting skills. How can I handle this?"


SPEEDMAN: Right. Well, yeah, I did and my friends did too.
[laughter]


RINALDO: Amy Jo Johnson is Julie, Ben's love interest.


JOHNSON: He's definitely not typical L.A./Hollywood type. That's
for sure. You can tell he's not from here. He's not all caught up in
all the crap.


RINALDO: Scott, I have a big problem.


SPEEDMAN: All right.


RINALDO: You're too nice. People are going to say it isn't possible
that all of this has happened to you and you're nice.


SPEEDMAN: Yeah, I'm nice.


RINALDO: Are you?


SPEEDMAN: Yeah, yeah.


RINALDO: Are you nice?


SPEEDMAN: There are about five people out there that are going,
"No, no, no."


RINALDO: "No, he's not." [laughter] Well, we did some digging and
some cast mates -- including Scott Foley, Speedman's TV nemesis --
gave us the dirt.


FOLEY: He's so cool. He's the sexy, brooding, beautiful -- good
feet too. Have you seen his feet?


RUSSELL: He has some funky feet. He has like broken toes. Some of
them are green. It is atrocious.


RINALDO: We asked, but he wouldn't show us his feet on camera. So
if that's all there is, how did a nice Canadian kid with foot
problems become America's hot new poster boy, the face on the cover
of all those teen magazines?


SPEEDMAN: Well, my girlfriend at the time dared me to go down and
put myself on this "Speaker's Corner" -- put a dollar in and
audition for "Batman Forever", the Boy Wonder part. [video excerpt]


RINALDO: Scott knew the film's casting director was in Toronto. She
happened to catch Scott's appearance on local TV and called.


You didn't get the job.


SPEEDMAN: I didn't get the job. I knew I wasn't going to get the
job.


RINALDO: Well, Chris O'Donnell is pretty good.


SPEEDMAN: Yeah, he was all right.


RINALDO: Didn't get the job, but got someone's attention -- an
agent. And then a small role here and there -- a short film "Can I
Get a Witness?" and "The Kitchen Party", a recently-released
Canadian movie. And then it happened. Out of the blue, the producers
of "Felicity" came calling. They were looking for someone sensitive
with sex appeal. Scott was it.


ABRAMS: Scott was really the first guy who I could understand why a
young woman would follow him 3,000 miles, but he was someone who
wouldn't quite know himself why someone would do that.


MARY SPEEDMAN: [looking at photographs] How does a body like that
end up with a body like this?


RINALDO: That's a very good question. [laughter]


Mary Speedman, who still lives in Toronto, never expected her son
to be an actor. He'd never shown interest. For years he was a
highly-ranked competitive swimmer.


MARY SPEEDMAN: He was doing so well at swimming that he seemed to
be on a career path with that.


SPEEDMAN: I was a good swimmer, but I was never a great swimmer. Do
you know what I mean? I came ninth in '92 at the Olympic trials and
then, two weeks later, I got really injured.


RINALDO: The injury to a nerve in his neck ended his swimming
career. These days he runs the trails of L.A., a personal passion
the writers of "Felicity" have incorporated into the show. The hours
he once spent swimming he now spends honing his craft. He's found a
mentor in co-executive producer Ed Redlich.


Young actors come and go. Does Scott Speedman have what it takes to
stay in the game?


REDLICH: I really think so. His natural talent -- I mean, for
someone who has not been to graduate schools in acting -- just his
pure gift, his presence before the camera is astonishing.


RINALDO: That camera presence has not gone unnoticed. Shows like
MTV's "House of Style" are lining up to interview him. Gee, it's
tough when you're billed as the babe magnet of a show.


All the questions you get about your looks and the way you dress
and the things that women are interested in and "Are you a good
kisser?" -- does that bother you?


SPEEDMAN: Yeah, it just gets kind of annoying. It's silly.


RINALDO: And so it is with the whole Hollywood scene. What's really
important to him are friends and family.


Scott told us that he knows that you're worried about him and
that's why he calls home every day. Are you worried about him?


MARY SPEEDMAN: Actually, I really trust Scott. My concerns for him
are mostly that he's been catapulted into a situation that he didn't
have a lot of preparation for.


Beautiful, isn't he? [laughter]


RINALDO: Yes, I love the face.


A proud mother showing off photographs, snapshots of a son's life.
But while there is laughter, this is also sadness. Scott's dad Roy
is fighting cancer.


SPEEDMAN: His attitude is just incredible. You know, all the stuff
I'm going through down here -- I know he's going through something
ten times harder. So, it's incredibly, incredibly inspiring to watch
him.


RINALDO: While he copes with his father's illness and the new
pressures in his life, the young man they call Speedy is thinking
about what's next. Maybe films, maybe more TV -- maybe this Canadian
boy wonder will go back to university. A fairy-tale story that's
really just unfolding, the ending's yet to be written.


What if it all ends?


SPEEDMAN: I don't know. I think about that all the time. I do a lot
of stuff. If I got hurt or screw up my face or screw up whatever --
you know, I'd do something else. If acting doesn't happen, there's
always other stuff I can do. I don't know what that is, but I know
I'll be happy.


CLARK: By the way, Scott Speedman is unattached at the moment. He
says he's just too busy for romance.



 


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