I think that if we can be more mindful of others in our career, which I mentioned earlier when talking about giving back as well as receiving, then it can help our daily lives outside of acting. Looking out for other people and being supportive will help us become more accepting of everyone around us and create more unity in our lives. When you’ve learnt valuable lessons in life, offer advice to people in need, spend time with others when they are going through tough times and be more open-minded to having relationships with people that you may have shied away from in the past, you may just surprise yourself just how many good people there are out there. This is one of the reasons I love creating art, it forms a beautiful unity when everyone comes together to focus on the project rather than who/where we come from, it brings us all together.
As a part of my series about pop culture’s rising stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Scott Butler. Scott is an actor from London, England. Scott won the 2011 “Best Actor — Award of Excellence” at the Canada International Film Festival and for his stage debut, the 2009 “Best Actor” at the Pacific Coast Theatre Company. Many of the projects Scott worked on went on to receive awards, including his comedic role as Jack the Ripper on the series Hollywood Hell (2011) which won a Regional Emmy in 2011 and Serene (2010) which was nominated for a Regional Emmy in that same year. In his short 10 years in the industry, he continues to build a prolific body of work in film and TV, including the role of “Oliver” in the critically acclaimed AMC series Lodge 49 (2018). He also had roles in the Lionsgate release Wiener Dog Internationals (2015), starring alongside Morgan Fairchild, Bryan Batt and Jason London, the Warner Bros release 16-Love (2012), starring Lindsey Shaw and Chandler Massey and one of the lead roles in Holy Terror (2017) with Lisa London, Kristine DeBell and Mel Novak. Over the years Scott has studied at many acting schools in various disciplines, including the Aaron Speiser Acting Studio, the William Alderson Acting Studio and the prestigious voice acting studio Kalmenson & Kalmenson in Burbank. Scott has over a dozen new projects lined up for 2019 and beyond including the role of “Virgil Robinson” in Straight on Till Morning, working alongside Maria Olsen (Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief (2010) and American Horror Story (2011)), a role in Attack of the Unknown, starring Tara Reid and Richard Grieco and as the narrator of Gregory Hatanaka’s new film Darling Nikki (2019), starring James Duval and Jamie Bernadette.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
I was born in Croydon, South London, in a typical working class British household. We moved to Auckland in New Zealand when I was about 1.5 years old, we lived there for a few years before returning to the Kent in the South East of England, where I lived until I was 29 years old before moving to the US for work in the video games industry before I got into acting. I was a real daydreamer, I remember sitting in history class once gazing out of the window imagining dragons and spaceships flying by, the teacher shouted out loud, “Mr Butler, are you still with us”, I had a big imagination and it wouldn’t let up!
The school I went to was Ravenswood School For Boys in Bromley, Kent and was the school that David Bowie went to about 20 years before me. We both had the same music teacher, a lovely man called Mr. Lane. He would tell us stories about David being at school back then, I remember Mr. Lane saying:
“When David Robert Jones was at school, I remember him saying “One day I’ll be a rockstar and it’ll be brilliant!”, I said out loud in front of class, Mr. Jones you are always late for class, you never do your homework and you’re always late for choir practice, you’ll never make it as a rock star in the music industry with this behavior!”
When I did my exams when I was about 14, the old beaten up wooden desk I was using, had “David R. Jones was here” scratched on it, if Ebay had existed back then I would have been tempted to sneak it out and sell it! I kid, sort of!
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
By the end of 2008 I had been working, at the time, for 20 years as a video games artist, but was laid off in the great recession. I decided to try an acting class to pass the time while I looked for work. I’d never really done any acting, except for school nativity plays, and thought that if I wasn’t any good at it, it would still help with public speaking that I had to do in my corporate job.
I drove to this acting class in San Diego to audit it, and when I walked down this dark corridor to the class, I thought “what am I doing, this is silly, I have a career in games”, I then walked back down to the car and started driving off. But then I thought “no, I should check it out”, and went back to the class. That was the big turning point, none of this would have happened if I hadn’t changed my mind back!
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
There are so many, I would say one that stand out was working with the incredible Morgan Fairchild on a movie called “Wiener Dog Internationals”, directed by Kevan Peterson. She arrived on set, before hair and makeup and was ever-so sweet and polite, shaking my hand saying hi. When she returned from hair and makeup, now ready to play the villain of the movie, I said to her “you look great Morgan!”, she looked down her nose at me and sort of sneered… she was already in character, it was amazing and I thought, ok here we go, let’s do this! After we wrapped on the movie, she was lovely and tweeted that it was great working with me, I still have a print of that tweet in my office, such lovely memories of working with her.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I did the usual thing of nativity plays at school when I was 6 or 7. One of those plays I was cast as Jesus and was so excited. The day of the show I’m sitting off to the side of our little polished wooden stage with steps either side waiting for my cue.
When my cue came, I ran up the stairs but tripped on my overly-long tunic and landed on my belly and slid across the entire stage like a seal and went down the other stairs, ending up under the principal’s chair, who then exclaimed “Mr Butler, please remove yourself from under my chair!”. The entire audience burst out laughing, I was so embarassed but carried on with the show and was nicknamed “Flying Jesus” for years after that!
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
In 2010 I booked my first speaking role in a movie called “16-Love”, directed by Adam Lipsius. I attended the audition in a small rented office in San Diego, and didn’t think anything of using my native British accent, even though the role was for a tennis chair umpire in California, I guess they liked the idea of it though, thinking it might add a bit of Wimbledon to the movie, or something! I turned up on set and just could not believe how many people, trucks and equipment were there, it was a much bigger production than what I thought! I was there for 4 days and loved every minute of it, incredible experience!
I had the incredible honor of working on the critically acclaimed TV show “Lodge 49” this year, that stars Wyatt Russell, Sonya Cassidy, Paul Giamatti, Bruce Campbell and Cheech Marin. I was without an agent at the time, and was sent an email from Tara Feldstein asking me to audition for the show, I sent in a self tape and couldn’t believe it when I received the email saying I had booked it, I went nuts jumping up and down, I was so happy! It has taken me 10 years of auditioning and working on indie and cable project to finally get my first network TV credit!
I met Alethea Jones, the incredibly hard-working and talented director of our episode at lunch before doing my scene and she told me how much she loved my audition in front of the rest of the cast, which filled my heart with joy, but I also thought “well, I’d better live up to that now!” It was a lovely experience, once I had wrapped, everyone clapped and she gave me a big hug. I went back to my hotel so filled with joy and excitement, I am so grateful to be a part of this magical show, everyone needs to experience “Lodge 49”, it is truly special.
I also have very fond memories of working on a horror movie called “Holy Terror”, directed by Rich Mallery, and produced by Gregory Hatanaka, where I played a quite complex Priest who had very mixed feelings about performing an exorcism after an earlier one had gone so wrong, really enjoyed getting deep with this character, such a fun shoot. We are halfway through filming another movie with Gregory Hatanaka directing this time, on a wonderfully creative thriller called “HeartBeat” (working title), which I can’t wait to share with everyong once it’s complete.
Honestly, I’ve enjoyed every project I’ve worked on over the past 10 years I’ve been doing this, each one has special memories for me and I just love working, I learn something from every project.
We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?
I also believe it is very important to have diversity when casting or hiring for production, it creates a wonderful inclusive feeling, that we are all here to do a job and be defined by our creativity and our hard work. I love working with people of all ages, background and levels of experience, as everyone brings something to the table, whether it be wisdom from years of work, or a fresh perspective from people newer to the industry.
In the same way, I love working with actors, producers, crew and everyone involved, from different cultures, countries and background, it really brings a broad spectrum of perspective on how we see the world and each other and makes for a much richer experience in how we work and the work we create.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
Oh, there are so many! The first few years I was acting, I would sometimes compare where I was in my career with other actors around me, this led to frustration at times. This was absolutely the wrong thing to do as everyone has their own path, very few actors stories align. So I turned it around and just focused on my path and decided to live in the moment instead of worrying about the future or what had happened in the past.
One thing that I learned that helped me so much was to listen, listen, listen! It’s so important! Early on I wouldn’t listen to the other actor as well as I should have while in the middle of a scene, I would be too focused on my lines and waiting for the cue. Since studying the Meisner technique, which drills into you the process of listening, I feel that my acting has become more natural and in the moment.
Another thing is, be positive and grateful for everything that you receive, but more importantly, don’t forget to give too. It is very easy in this industry to be chasing everything to get ahead, but I believe that having a two-way relationship with everyone you meet, where you also support their work and think of their needs too, creates a much more balanced energy and make this life much more enjoyable.
This industry is all about relationships and your reputation, work hard, do your best work and remember that we all need each other to make content, everyone on that set is just as important as the next person. Respect that and it will serve you well, it really has helped me. When you are courteous to the people you work with, and listen and take direction well, the better reputation you will build, and people will want you to work with them again down the line, it’s so important.
When you meet casting directors at workshops or auditions, ask them if they take on actors to help with reading the other lines behind the camera in auditions when actors come in. You learn so much from watching 20 to 30 people come in and read for the same role, it really is so enlightening! You won’t get paid for this, but you will be rewarded so much in other ways, also in building a relationship with that casting director.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Don’t beat yourself up when you don’t book acting jobs. 99% of the time, it’s not your quality of what you did, it can be down to so many factors that you don’t know about, or have control over, your hair color, height, accent, how similar you look to another cast actor on the project, or you’re just not quite the right person for the job. Remember this, and it makes the whole process much more enjoyable and easier to deal with.
Take each day as it comes, if you work hard and build relationships, you will find yourself becoming more and more busy with your career, and if you focus yourself in the present, you will enjoy the journey, which is far better than worrying about the end goal in my opinion.
When you attend an audition, don’t spend much time thinking about it afterwards, for sure give yourself some constructive critique on how you felt it went, but remember it is out of your hands now and you should now turn your attention onto whatever you need to do next for your career.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I think that if we can be more mindful of others in our career, which I mentioned earlier when talking about giving back as well as receiving, then it can help our daily lives outside of acting. Looking out for other people and being supportive will help us become more accepting of everyone around us and create more unity in our lives.
When you’ve learnt valuable lessons in life, offer advice to people in need, spend time with others when they are going through tough times and be more open-minded to having relationships with people that you may have shied away from in the past, you may just surprise yourself just how many good people there are out there. This is one of the reasons I love creating art, it forms a beautiful unity when everyone comes together to focus on the project rather than who/where we come from, it brings us all together.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I was working as an extra when I first landed in Los Angeles, just trying to pay the rent. A British actress friend of mine who was working as a PA asked me if I wanted to work as a crowd attendee for a Wiener dog race the next day on a movie called “Wiener Dog Nationals”, I said yes and turned up to set early that next day. I was asked to change into an alternate set of clothes that I had brought along.
I spent less than 2 minutes changing and when I came out everyone had gone off to the set, which I didn’t know the location of! I asked one lone PA who was still there, and he called in and said it was ok to just wait back in base camp. When my British actress friend came back, she asked if anyone had not been used yet, I put my hand up, then she asked if I had a suit with me for a featured role. I hadn’t brought one as I was there as a crowd attendee, but this lovely fellow actor called Chris Yanke said that he had a suit I could borrow to do the role.
I said to him that he should do it, as it was his suit and would better fit him but he insisted saying that he was already used anyway. Well, months later, I had posted the trailer up for the movie as I loved working on it, and had befriended the director Kevan Peterson on Facebook. A year or so later I receive an email from Kevan thanking me for the support and told me that he had written in several lines and scenes for my character for the sequel, “Wiener Dog Internationals”, which I mentioned earlier, that’s how I got the role! So thank you Chris, we are starting our own movie productions now and I want to have a role written in for Chris to return the lovely favor.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
There are a lot of quotes that inspire me, but one that I remember, that covers a lot of what I believe in is:
“Never regret a day in your life, good days give happiness, bad days give experience, worst days give lessons, and best days give memories”
I think that a lot of problems actors have (or anyone for that matter), is taking on the burden of emotion and worry from things that often are out of our control. I feel that I’ve become much stronger from my failures and difficult times that I was able to overcome than the days that went without a hitch. Every day that I am alive and free to do what I love, is a good day to me, no matter how it turns out, everything contributes to who you are and what you become, use it all in a positive manner and you will become a well-rounded person with a full life.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
There are so many incredible people I would love to meet, I am so inspired by Anthony Hopkins work and who he is as a human being, a lot of his work has inspired roles I have played in the past. Yes, I would love to have lunch with him and discuss his process and outlook on acting (I’m buying Anthony!)
If I could have one more, then I would choose Bai Ling, I met her a few weeks ago at a convention, I just love her freewill and freedom of expression that she has, she really has a beautiful energy about her. I would love someday to sit down with her and talk about that, we often hold ourselves back in life because we fear of what others will think of us, but the older I get, the more I believe in expressing yourself fully, you can’t please everyone anyway, so why not express yourself (as long as it is in a good and positive way). As actors, freedom of expression is so important and helps us immensely with our work. So Bai Ling, let’s get breakfast or lunch!
How can our readers follow you on social media?
I am on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, if you search for @scottbutleract on all of those platforms, you should find me. I make a big effort to reply to every comment and message, and love to support other people!
This was very meaningful, thank you so much!