The Maidstone. East Hampton, NY.
Interview: Rob DeStefano

IF was joined by Scoot McNairy, one of the festival’s up-and-coming and most accomplished actors in attendance, for a conversation about his persistence in the film scene. Here to represent Ben Affleck’s newest thriller, Argo, Scoot has a filmography that’s riddled with nuanced roles. For horror fans, he starred in the indie flick Monsters, which was one of the most original alien invasion stories, focusing heavily on its characters – rather than the creatures – and their personal sense of alienation. Variety magazine named the actor in their “Top 10 Actors to Watch” of 2012; his upcoming roles include sharing the screen with Brad Pitt in Andrew Dominik’s Killing Them Softly, working under Gus Van Sant in Promised Land, and serving Steve McQueen in his next film, Twelve Years a Slave.

IF: How has persistence played an integral role in your career?

SM: Yeah, I mean, I got shut down a lot. With that being said, there’s nothing that fuels me more than somebody telling me I can’t do something. If you tell me I can’t do something, I’ll next to kill myself proving to you that I can. So I think it’s all the rejection that I got that has driven me to where I’m at. Without that rejection, I wouldn’t have been driven forward. You got to stay persistent. I can’t say it enough times. Focus on the work. All the other stuff will come. You just got to focus on the work and enjoy what you’re doing and not worry about all these other things that have nothing to do with what you’re doing.

IF: You’ve worked in cinematography, producing, editing, directing?

SM: I love movies. I love storytelling. I spent so much time as a kid watching films, and they inspired me. And so coming out to California, I knew I wanted to work in the movie business and on a film set. Cinematography is something that’s always interested me, and I thought that would be a great place for me to fit in. So when I first came out, I was a cinematographer and went to film school, and then I began building sets. Eventually, I found myself in front of the camera and with that being said, it’s all for the love of storytelling. I am lucky to have the opportunity to facilitate the storyteller. I’m hoping in the future I can be the storyteller. But it all comes from a passion for loving the film format and movies.

IF: It’s been a busy year working on larger scale projections – what was one of your more interesting smaller roles?

SM: I did this one short called The Shadow Effect, and I came onto it because the character had no lines in the entire thing. And as an actor, I thought it was a challenge to do a film where you don’t speak the entire movie and you have to tell the story through your facial expressions. So yeah, each project is different and each project excites me in different ways.

IF: Ok, some survey questions: if you were a professional athlete, which sport would cause you the most anxiety?

SM: Football.

IF: Fuck/Marry/Kill – Cyndi Lauper, Batman, Margaret Thatcher.

SM: Cyndi Lauper because she’s crazy.

IF: No, you have to pick one for each, but you can’t use the same one twice.

SM: I don’t know, man! The present time I’m only sleeping with my wife! I don’t know. Batman would be interesting to go up against. I’d like to play The Penguin one day. And marry my wife…

IF: Would you rather be a housecat fed well but trapped in a crazy woman’s filthy apartment or a stray cat who is free but must search for food?

SM: Stray cat for sure. Absolutely.

IF: You passed.

SM: Cheers, man!

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