- Photography by Mr Bruno Staub | Styling by Ms Annie Psaltiras
- Words by Mr Mike Hodgkinson
Last year, Mr Reid Scott directed a production of Mr Bernard Pomerance's The Elephant Man at a small theatre on an unglamorous stretch of Sunset Boulevard. By Los Angeles' industry standards, that makes Mr Scott a nonconformist: a strange fish. In Hollywood, doing plays is like doing time. Such dedication to the live roots of drama should have guaranteed him, at best, a solid gig waiting tables to cover the rent - but things have worked out rather well. Looking at the trajectory of Mr Scott's acting career so far, it would be reasonable to conclude that the stage has given him a sharp competitive edge.
Transplanted from New York, he progressed steadily from fizzy beverage commercial to popular sitcom (My Boys on the TBS network). He's currently a fixture on outstanding Brit-ish political satire Veep (HBO) - a Capitol Hill take on The Thick of It, chaperoned across the Atlantic with great care and attention to detail by the creator of both series, Mr Armando Iannucci. Mr Scott's experience in improv, and his back-east state of mind, teed him up perfectly for the job.
Despite his background, the Syracuse University-educated US East Coaster - and confessed former lover of miserable weather - clearly enjoys living in California. In fact, he has practically gone native. He hikes, skis and surfs like an X-Gamer, a sure route to eradicating all physical traces of the bookishness ingrained in him by his grandmother, a professor of English literature. He lives in an outrageously bucolic canyon in the shadow of the Hollywood sign: the nature boy within him has finally buried that return ticket to the Big Apple under a sun-dappled compost heap of palm fronds, orange blossom and hummingbird scat.
MR PORTER met up with Mr Scott in Venice Beach to talk about his style (comedic and sartorial), his heroes and his fictional occupation as Dan Egan, the deputy director of communications for the US Vice President.
Were you familiar with Mr Armando Iannucci's work before you landed your role in Veep?
Absolutely. I thought he was brilliant. The Thick of It is a little more sinister [than Veep]. Armando tried to explore the darker side of British politics through the lens of comedy. By taking that same style of comedy and training it on American politics, he's having a good time really elevating the absurd. And that leads us to some broader comedy. As far as I'm concerned season two is a huge step up even from season one, which I was thrilled about. It's getting really, really funny.
Who are your main comedy influences?
Dick Van Dyke is one of my all-time heroes. My parents were huge TV buffs, so I grew up watching reruns of The Odd Couple. Jack Lemmon has been huge for me, and Jack Benny. That wonderful deadpan. The "listening" that those guys employed. It wasn't always about who's going to top out. The audience is allowed to interpret for themselves what must be going on in their mind, without them having to telegraph it. I can still watch them over and over and over.
Dan Egan, your character on Veep, is a Machiavellian swine. Does the idea of hatching a cunning scheme fascinate you?
It really does. That's where the directing side of me comes from - the idea of conceiving something in your mind and then actually bringing it into reality is just the ultimate rush for me: that's like my skydiving. If you've got to manipulate a little bit along the way, I believe that the ends justify the means. My character certainly does. I mean he'll whore out his own grandmother for a leg up in the world.
Mr Scott as the deputy director of communications, Dan Egan, in the
hit political comedy TV series, 2012
From left: Ms Kellee Stewart (back to camera), Mr Michael Bunin, Mr Jamie Kaler, Ms Jordana Spiro, Mr Scott and Mr Kyle Howard in season four of the US sitcom, 2010
The Big C
Ms Laura Linney as Cathy Jamison and Mr Scott as Dr Todd Mauer in the first season of the hit TV series, 2010
the red carpet
Mr Scott arrives at the 64th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles, California, 2012
Do real US politicians watch Veep?
I was in [Washington] DC a few weeks ago for a basketball game. We went with some friends, one of whom is a chief of staff for a congressman. His communications director came along. We were pumping them for information and they were probably a little too forthcoming. I asked them, "What do you guys think?" They said, "No show is as authentic as Veep, because it's a comedy. You guys are illustrating how absurd, and how fragile and fractured and faulted these people really are. That's the way DC really is." It was wonderful to hear - very encouraging.
How are you enjoying life on the US West Coast?
I've fully assimilated. I consider myself almost a Californian at this point, because I've been here long enough. Obviously, when I first came to the land of blond-haired, blue-eyed surfer types, I was the sardonic, sarcastic, liquor-swilling, chain-smoking, dark-haired, dark-eyed guy from New York. I think that helped me out a little bit. I'm too well adjusted at this point, I'm too healthy, as I sit here eating my pickled beets and veggies.
What do you miss most about living in New York City?
I don't get to read as much here because you're always in the car, whereas in New York you're on the subway or in a cab. And I would devour books. Out here I actually have to carve out an hour a day just to sit and read. I know a lot of people hate on Los Angeles, but to me there's no better combination: you have all the urban conveniences and culture you could ever want, plus you have mountains and lakes and rivers and the Pacific Ocean. And I'll be damned if I'm not going to take advantage of all of it.
How would you describe your personal style?
Classic Hollywood is always how I try to style myself. To be casual it's always jeans - but nice jeans. And sneakers, but clean sneakers. And a crisp white T-shirt, and stuff like that. I've got to say I enjoy a good suit. Something about a really well-tailored suit; I like it. I never want it to be ostentatious or anything, just simple and very understated. To me, Cary Grant is probably the most fashionable man in the history of Hollywood. The guy was just slick. He did it so effortlessly.
The second series of Veep is airing now in the UK on Sky Atlantic and HBO