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Scott Speedman (Krista Smith, Vanity Fair)


"He is electric," says Keri Russell, star of the TV series 'Felicity', about her Canadian co-star, Scott Speedman, who was plucked from obscurity for the role of the misunderstood, melancholic heartthrob Ben Covington. A last-minute call to his mother from a desperate casting agent who remembered him from years earlier landed him the part. "We cast him off of a video audition days before shooting started," J.J. Abrams, the show's co-creator and executive producer, says. "He has such vulnerability, coupled with an incredibly hot look. You can't help but know this guy is going to be a star."

Everyone in Hollywood agrees. Speedman has just finished work on 'Duets', which also features Gwyneth Paltrow and which will be released by Buena Vista next spring. Speedman plays an ex-seminarian turned cab driver in search of himself and the meaning of life, a role originally intended for Brad Pitt. "His face mirrors his soul. You look at him and you know exactly what's going on inside," says Bruce Paltrow, the film's director and father of the actor's co-star. Speedman says, "The idea of working with Gwyneth was intimidating at first, but she is a normal, nice girl. We just had fun."

Speedman, 24, who grew up in Toronto, was once an Olympic hopeful in swimming until an injury derailed his dreams and a girlfriend's dare got him into acting. Happily, he plans on sticking around: "I don't want to blow it. I want to still be in films when I'm 40."


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