Today we’d like to introduce you to Scott Deckert.
Scott, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Well, here’s the long version consolidated into readable text in an attempt to save you from boredom. When I was growing up, my dad and I watched tons of old movies and silent films together. I began to mimic actors and imagine myself in imaginary situations all the time. I would annoyingly, I’m sure, say lines over actors when watching a movie the second time. Studying actors in films grew into a sort of an obsession. I suppose I became a bit of a prankster, seeing how far I could believably take things; and eventually started making little films and hosting our own shows with my dad and brother, Billy, on our home video camera. I had this strange feeling that I was destined to do something unique; I didn’t pinpoint it until later, but I sort of feel that deep down I always knew it would be acting.
I first started performing as a kid doing school plays but got heavily into sports in high school. The only acting I did there was entering an occasional talent contest and dressing up like a woman while singing Diana Ross and Lionel Richie’s ‘Endless Love’ to a buddy of mine. Eventually, I earned a full ride scholarship for tennis. While in college, I started filming shorts and student films. I realized that this was my passion and where I wanted to head career-wise, so I enrolled in some film classes. I had discovered a passion for music during those years as well. I wrote and was the front man in a band that played around our college town and surrounding areas.
One day I got a call from my guitarist and co-creator of the project and he told me he wanted to go to grad school. I was like, “Dude, priorities!…” I hung up the phone with a tear or twelve in my eye and someone in the room with me said, “This means you need to move to California.” I said, “Are you coming with me?” And there it was. Gone in a week. Alone, for a while, at least. I wasn’t ready to stop chasing my dreams, and looking back on it, I’m happy he chased his.
When I moved to LA, I was supposed to move in with a buddy of mine who wasn’t there when I showed up. Yup. So I called the one guy I knew out here and it turned into a crazy, epic start to life in LA. I moved in with my boy Rob, who I had shot my first feature with down in Florida the year before until I could find my own place with my college roommate, also named Rob, and a girl I’m fortunate to no longer live with. So many Robs.
So I moved in with him and his best friend for a while in Valley Village. My first three years of living in Los Angeles were some glorious and insane ones. It was quite the experience watching some of my closest friends blow up and become household names while seeing others throw in the towel. Everybody has their own journey, and living that life right off the bat was oddly like living in a movie. I went through some crazy times, lived some crazy shit, and learned a lot; but those experiences will only be written about in my memoirs. Haha.
Onto the acting part. So shortly after I moved to LA, I booked a small role on writer/director Alan Ball’s ‘All Signs of Death,’ a pilot that HBO had ordered after his hit True Blood. I had my first taste of the “Hollywood high.” I spent a day shooting and making out with the amazing character actress Dale Dickey. Yeah, literally. As an aspiring actor and human being, I was the happiest. I rolled fake joints and weighed and packaged “product” from morning ’til dawn. In-between takes I was on cloud nine, just sitting there for hours waiting with a smile on my face, looking around soaking in as much information and retaining as many memories as I could.
A producer came up to me and said, “Why are you so happy?” I said, “Because there’s no place in this world that I’d rather be.” Later on that day, she came up and called me something like Smiley, told me that Alan loved me and that I was being bumped to recurring. They gave me the book it was based on and told me I’d be in touch with the writer to understand the world the show lived in. Nothing could get me down. Not even the fact that I woke up the next day with horrible burns in my mouth from the countless fake joints I smoked on set and couldn’t swallow for close to three days. I was “taking the fast road to becoming a credible, working actor…” or not. Alan himself called just days before Christmas.
Awesome, right?! Well, nothing changes how awesome that was of him. Just a good man with the heart to tell me personally that HBO was not picking up the pilot. So the Hollywood high turned into my first “Hollywood heartbreak.” I fell against the wall in the bathroom when he told me… and it wasn’t even clean. But I learned not to get too comfortable or bank on something being the end-all in this industry. Invaluable lesson!
So many people think they’ll move to LA and just “get discovered.” I learned that the chances of that are beyond slim and that the most important thing to do is put yourself in a position to actually become a working actor… to earn it. I shifted my focus to training, training, training, and also improving my reel, getting good headshots (not the cheap ones that you end up having to get redone, but some quality headshots) and building a team around me. After training at some great LA acting schools including The Groundlings, I was fortunate to find an acting coach, Eden Bernardy, who absolutely changed my skills, my path and my life. I studied under Eden for a couple years before she sadly passed away.
That was an incredible devastation to me and, honestly, to all of her students whose lives she had impacted so greatly. It’s rare to come across a person in life who seems to have a sixth sense, almost a psychic ability, a way of understanding you and guiding you that you never thought possible. That was Eden. A part of me will always act for her and in her honor. She still gives me the gifts of emotion and confidence on set and I’ll always carry those parts of her with me. After her passing, I was fortunate enough to begin studying with Larry Moss, another person who has had a great impact on me. So long story short, I dedicated myself to becoming an actor instead of pretending I was one.
About two years into my career, I auditioned for an independent film called Odd Brodsky. After a callback and a long waiting period, leaving my ringer on loud and checking IMDb about ten times a day, I got the call from writer/director Cindy Baer asking if I would accept the role of Spuds. It was the first time that I got to play a lead role in a legit movie with people who really knew what they were doing. I learned so much from my experience with Cindy and her husband/co-writer/Cinematographer Matthew Irving.
They’re such creative, loving, talented people and I felt incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to work with them. We traveled the film festival circuit, premiering at the Mill Valley Film Festival. As an actor, opportunities create other opportunities. Being trained and prepared, involved and building lasting relationships has blessed me with what is turning into a true career doing what I love most in this world.
After Odd Brodsky, which kept me busy for some time, I continued to book Indi films and started working on television shows. I was ecstatic when I landed a role on Comedy Central’s Workaholics and I can still say that it was one of the best on-set experiences I’ve had. That show allowed me, for really the first time, to improv as much as I wanted.
The next season, Adam DeVine, Anders Holm, Blake Anderson and the fam brought me back as not only a recurring guest star, but a different character. So that was beyond dope of them. There’s nothing like acting on the set of an amazing comedy with some dudes who will someday be considered comedy legends, and there’s nothing cooler to me than people at such a high level not just wanting to help others build their career but actually acting on it. Building the resume and reel with projects like Workaholics led me to more opportunities like landing a memorable role in one of the first Netflix Original movies, XOXO. Shooting this movie was insanely awesome!
We shot over a period of a year and a half at real EDM music festivals on the West Coast. Aside from shooting my written scenes with actors like the delightful Sarah Hyland and Chris D’Elia, director Christopher Louie would send me into the madness with a Go-Pro and a sound crew. People attending the festival were so confused, it was hilarious! I literally got to write my own script as I went. I got into fake fights and explained myself right before things really got out of hand… I had guys literally ask me to make out with their girlfriends to get in the movie… it was quite the trip. The whole end credit sequence of the movie is footage that I shot on my Go-Pro… the perspective of Bo at the festival.
While filming at a festival in San Bernardino, I lost 40 American dollars. I thought it had fallen out of the “drug pouch” in my wolf parka costume. The sound crew and I looked all around the area we’d been shooting because I wanted to buy a sweet tank top and that was all the money I had. Months later during ADR, I told the director and producer about how my cash just disappeared that day. Well, guess what they found in the footage! As I was in character, arm around a security guard, telling him what a positive light he is in this world (mind you, he had no idea I was shooting a movie and I was not actually a drugged out festival-goer), he picked the cash right out of my pocket!
So… he made the cut and has a nice little cameo at the end of the movie being a true, real-life thief. Hilarious. Not cool, but worth it in the end for one of those great little stories to talk about! I do feel the worst, though, for what I’m sure producer Joe Russell had to witness when selecting the Go-Pro footage because I couldn’t tell when it was rolling and when it was off. I’m sure it was rolling on more than one occasion while I was in the bathroom. We haven’t talked about it but I feel that this interview is the appropriate time to sort of let it out into the world, no pun intended.
As the journey continued, I booked roles on shows like Brooklyn Nine-Nine and The Walking Dead, really trying to diversify the types of characters I play and the genres of shows I’m fortunate to book. I’m in the upcoming Sony-Marvel movie, Venom, directed by Ruben Fleischer and opposite Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed and Woody Harrelson. I cannot thank people like Ruben or casting extraordinaire John Papsidera and Caitlin Well enough for allowing me to do what I love on such a big stage. I will always be grateful to, and will never forget the people who have believed in me, given me opportunities, and helped me grow as an actor and a person. The love runs deep.
Since wrapping Venom, I’ve spent time working on an incredible show that I’m not allowed to disclose down in Atlanta, and I recently started re-fulfilling my love for music, recording a Pop/EDM album with producer Taylor Sparks (Julian Martel, Aaron Reid, Neon Hitch, Pharrell, Azelia Banks).
And that is where my story ends for now. A 16-year-old man with a college degree and years of acting under my belt. Yes, I am Doogie Howser.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I think it’s very rare that an actor has a smooth road. The majority of actors that people assume are an overnight success are actually “an overnight success in ten years”… or twenty. Sure it’s possible, but it sure seems like it becomes increasingly rare. The stories of being discovered in a bar or doing construction on a set just don’t float around like they used to. In my case, I literally knew nothing about the business side (or that I’d have to become a businessman) and no one in it when I parked my car in LA. Like I said, I knew one single person on this entire west coast. It was lonely and kind of scary, I guess, but I was determined, optimistic and I was lucky to make friends fast.
It’s beyond difficult getting representation when you have few credits and I had to hustle my ass off and make things happen because no one was really even gonna give me useful advice let alone make it happen for me. I self-submitted like crazy, occasionally booking a short film or something, which allowed me to build my reel a bit and peaked interest from an agent that I was just fortunate to have a round-about connection through a connections connection to (mind blown). It took me years just to get to the point where I could get into a room that wasn’t a “cattle call.” One of my most highly dreaded questions used to be, “What have you been in?” I knew my potential and the level I felt I should be at, but I hadn’t had the opportunities, so it was sort of embarrassing answering that. I’ve never really felt like I needed to impress people, it was more to prove to myself that I’m a “doer” and not a “talker” or a “quitter,” as well as to prove to my family that this is a real career field that I belong in.
Nowadays you have to be your own social media and business person, building your followers and brand. We don’t have the luxury of strictly focusing on our craft. The television and film industry is continuously changing in many ways with so many moving parts. It’s not always about being the best or even the best for a particular part. There are a lot of variables that come into play when a role is being cast, and you have to accept things for what they are and press on, and you know what? Sometimes it actually works to your advantage.
It’s been very difficult living so far away from my family. Keeping a strong relationship with family back home and creating long-lasting relationships with good souls here in Los Angeles is very important to my happiness and health. I’m the kind of guy that often wishes I lived in a different era, but then I realize I wouldn’t be able to FaceTime or call home. Haha, we’re very lucky to live in the time we do in that aspect. I’ve had some of the most important people in my life pass away while I was in the middle of filming a movie or tv show, on more than one occasion. It sometimes feels like there are big sacrifices in pursuing this passion, but at the same time, I feel very fortunate to be able to do it.
If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
Oh, how I wish I knew then what I know now! If I could start way over, I’d probably have become a child actor so that by the time I grew up I’d hopefully be a name getting offered roles left and right, living off of residuals from my hit Nickelodeon or Disney show. Well, only if I knew I’d come out of all that with my sanity intact and my parents didn’t spend all my money (jk mom and dad).
If I could start again from the day I moved to LA, I would focus much more on banging down doors to get representation and I would consider doing a few more plays while times were slow. In reference to another side of that, I’m a very loyal person who wanted to stick with the people who gave me a chance. I still believe that loyalty is one of the best attributes you can have; but looking back, there was a situation that I should have gotten out of long before I did; so I would be a keener observer of my surroundings- if I’m being taken advantage of, how it’s affecting my career, and considering I was literally “not allowed” to leave the city and would get reamed out even if I booked out a month in advance for a quick three day trip home- when my life is being taken over to an unhealthy level and how not normal that is.
Like I mentioned, it took me years to finally get the chance to start working on television shows and even longer for a studio movie… and maybe somebody could prove me wrong, but I personally don’t think an actor can get very far out here without at least having an agent or a manager. But finding the “right” team is what you have to strive for- the team that equally respects and wants to work hard for you as you respect and want to work hard for them.
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