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Q & A (Marilyn Beck and Stacy Jenel Smith, E! Online)

12.15.99

As tongue-tied, commitment-phobic, athletic stud Ben Covington, he finally gave in to Felicity's affection--only to blow it and lose her. So, what does Scott Speedman do now? He jumps into Brad Pitt's shoes and woos Gwyneth Paltrow in Duets. Some guys have all the luck.

Your Felicity character, Ben, has a new girlfriend, but you're not through with Felicity, are you?
Who knows? I don't even know what's going to happen. I mean, they're always trying to figure that out.

Okay, so there's all this buzz on Keri Russell's new 'do. What do you think? Be honest!
Oh, I love it, I really do. I look at her now--I can't even see her with long hair anymore.

You were quoted as saying that it was unrealistic for Felicity to have been a virgin for so long. Care to elaborate?
[Laughs.] I can't remember saying that. I don't think it's unrealistic--I just felt that we should loosen her up. I just felt like, if we're making a show about college, we should make it as real as possible and try to stay away from clichťs and what's "right" and PC.

I went to the University of Toronto for a year, and I'm always trying to get across what university is really like. And sex is definitely part of college life.

But would you say Felicity is--
To say she's unrealistic is silly, because there's a lot of 19-year-old virgins. I don't want that to be misinterpreted.

I've read stories about how you landed Felicity by way of a call from a desperate casting agent to your mother...
I had dropped out of theater school after six months and was just staying on my mom's couch at home in Toronto. I didn't really know what I wanted to do, and then I got this call from a casting director in Los Angeles. She remembered me from something years before, and she called my mom wanting me to audition for this thing. I didn't want to do it, but she sent me the script, and I read it and really liked it.

So, you knew right away when you saw the script that it was something you wanted?
It read to me like a movie. It was never my dream to be on a television show, but the words kind of flew out of my mouth when I read my part--it was a good part for me.

You've said that when you were younger, you reached a point at which you weren't enjoying acting.
Well, I started acting at 19. I dropped out when I was 21 or 22 because I was doing a lot of TV movies, and I wasn't really enjoying it, and I wanted to do some more training. So, it wasn't that I wasn't enjoying acting--I wasn't enjoying TV movies, silly movies, stupid movies of the week.

Well, obviously things turned around--you've got not only a hit TV series now, but a new movie with Gwyneth Paltrow and Mario Bello, Duets, coming out next spring, about relationships among the karaoke-bar set. Was it hard doing both your TV series and the movie at the same time?
It was very, very hard. I was up, like, three days in Vancouver and two days in L.A. And my dad passed away during [production]. It was a tough time.

How long did that double workload go on?
Duets is about six people, so it's like three different movies--three different duets. I was on the set 18 days, spread out over three and a half or four weeks. It wasn't totally grueling, as if I were on the film three months--but it was a month of intense work in terms of flying and trying to figure out both characters.

Was it intimidating to work with Gwyneth and her director father, Bruce Paltrow?
Gwyneth had just been nominated for the Academy Award, so, yes, it was intimidating. But that stuff excites me. I like that fear. It makes me work better. And Bruce is a really good director--an actor's director.

Did you and Gwyneth have a chance to buddy around?
Oh, yeah. We all had a good time. She's a great girl.

How often do you get to see her?
Now and then, depending on schedules.

So much has been made of the fact that you replaced Brad Pitt, who vacated the project after he and Gwyneth broke up. Was that a big weight on your shoulders?
I tried not to think about that too much. You've got to just go do what you do--you can't really worry about who was attached to the movie before. It would have been a good role for him. He's a really good actor.

Have you seen Fight Club?
I loved it! I think it's a smart, important movie. I'm confused by people who don't get it and who are frightened by it.

Why do you think it's important?
In terms of men in the late '90s, I feel we've been pushed into this ultrasensitive role without being too comfortable about it. I think they're frustrated by a fear of loss of power, and I think the movie speaks to a lot of those things. For me, at 24 years old, it's a great film--aggressive, adventurous. I'd like to be a part of that kind of film.

I also loved American Beauty. I like a lot of what's coming out now. I think films are in a better place than six months ago, and that's exciting.

Do you think Duets will be an important film?
In a way, yeah. It's a really good movie that a lot of people will relate to and understand. It's a small movie. I don't think it's going to make $100 million, but we never set out to make a movie like that. Hopefully, I'll get to make some more films from it, but I don't think it'll be a big, star-making vehicle.

Have there been any offers for your next project?
Yes, though most of them aren't necessarily for films I want to be a part of. I'd rather not make films than make bad ones. I'm pretty picky about what I want to do. I'd rather wait for the right movie to come along--a film with something to say and some good acting challenges.

You were once a national-champion swimmer headed for the Olympics, yet you don't swim anymore at all. Why not?
I can't swim at the level I used to. I had to retire because of an injury to my shoulder.

It seems you want to be the best at something, or you won't play around with it at all.
Yes, and that's not a good thing at times.

Has it been hard finding yourself the object of screaming teenage girls' affection?
It's weird. I'm not faced with it so much here [in Los Angeles]. You've got so many actors--so many celebrities. I don't feel like I can't walk out of my house. It hasn't really changed my life at all.

It doesn't sound like fame is going to your head.
Oh, no. I think it's really important not to let that happen, otherwise you cease to be a real person. And once you cease to be a real person, you stop being a good actor. If you don't live a normal life, how do you relate to people?

Speaking of which, are you "relating" to anyone at the moment?
You mean a girlfriend? No. It's an interesting time that way. It's hard to meet good girls down here. It seems like they're all after something and interested in their own lives.

So, what do you like to do when you're not working?
I play basketball as much as I can. I like to run. The hills here are great--the Santa Monica Mountains. I like to go up to Big Sur.

Finally, there have been rumors floating around the Internet that you're going to leave Felicity.
I heard about that. It's silly. It's really odd. No, there's no truth to that at all. No, no, no, no, no.

Well, your fans will be delighted you're staying.
I don't see the point in signing on to do something and then leaving.




 


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