CJAD: People will remember Scott Valentine most from the television series, "Family Ties." You played Nick, who was Mallory's boyfriend.
SCOTT: That lovable monosyllabic idiot, that's correct.
CJAD: Well since you brought that up, thank you for putting it that way. What was it like....I guess it must have been easy for learning your lines, but as an actor what was it like doing that role?
SCOTT: Oh Peter, come on, that was some tough stuff there, (laughter). I'm so glad I went to the Academy and to all the other fine acting institutions so I could grunt on prime time television, (laughter). The primal dig, the date from hell. It was a lot of fun, but literally there were times where I only had to utter two guttural utterances in a show and they paid me a bundle of cash for it. I felt bad at times.
CJAD: Well, bad at times but not for long I take.
SCOTT: (Laughter) Well no not to long, but you know, after awhile it was fun doing the series, but after awhile I felt as if I was acting with Saran Wrap on me.
CJAD: You mentioned the Academy. Tell us a little bit about your acting background.
SCOTT: I grew up actually, not far from here. Saratoga Springs, New York. Moved to the city. Attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, got out of there and moved to the Actor's Studio, which was founded, I don't know if you know, by Lee Strasberg.
SCOTT: And worked in the city for quite awhile. Then had the misfortune of being hit, run over and dragged by a truck and laid up for about three and a half years and as a result couldn't get arrested in New York. So then I had to move to that lovely land of shallowness and granola and berries known as Los Angeles.
SCOTT: Yeah, and then about ten months after the move to Los Angeles is when the break came on "Family Ties."
CJAD: You mentioned this accident that took place.....
SCOTT: Yes sir.
CJAD: Did you think at that point "well that's it, now my career is over?
SCOTT: No, because, literally at the time, when I was run over, I was on my way to my agent's office to sign a contract for a soap and a contract for a feature film. And I was young enough, I was only 22 when I was run over, that there was still quite a bit of naivete and not a real sense of one's own mortality. So it was just a constant thought of "Gee I gotta get healthy, I gotta get healthy, I gotta get healthy so I can work." Meanwhile the doctors were say, "well, you'll probably never walk again and you'll never have children, so sit down and be calm." And at that time I was not one to be told to be calm. And with the persistence and not wanting to sit in a wheelchair at 55-years-old and be saying, "yeah I could have done that, I would have been great if I did it," I just pushed myself and pushed myself.
CJAD: And then you end up in L.A., as you mentioned, and soon after you're on "Family Ties." What's it like....although I don't know if you have anything to bank it up against, but what's it like going onto an established show as a regular actor?
SCOTT: I'd say I was pretty lucky, you know. As you know we get that plethora of lovely programming in the fall known as the new season, of which maybe five percent are good shows.
CJAD: Three shows are already gone?
SCOTT: Oh my God....you know, which is funny, because one of the shows is a very formidable, supposedly film actor in the film end of this business, television is always looked down upon and probably considered, "oh God if I fail here I can go there." So it's nice for people to see that it's not that easy and it's just as tough as the other side of the street. And to go on an established show makes it all that much easier. Especially if at the time when the show was just skyrocketing to number one. I was very lucky. I was very, very lucky.
CJAD: At what point did you join that show? How many years had it been on already?
SCOTT: I think it had be on three years and I went in on the fourth year.
CJAD: So there was no problem breaking into what was already a family of, I would assume, a very tight knit group?
SCOTT: It was kind of odd. I felt like I was coming on and I didn't want to rock the boat, you know? That they had their own set little arrangement. Initially I was supposed to be there for one week and then leave. So I was pretty much the date that wouldn't leave, literally and metaphorically.
CJAD: Do you think you would have approached it differently if had realized when you went in there that this was a chance for a recurring, if not regular character?
SCOTT: No, I think I would have approached things in my career if I realized.....if I had some knowledge of the magnitude of television. I definitely would have approached it different. You know, it kills me whenever you see actors that are riding that wave of success, be it the second or third wave that they have, as there's the ebb and flows in anybody's career...and when people say they have no regrets. I have quite a few regrets. There are a lot of things I would have changed if I had known the power of television. It's just unbelievable.
CJAD: What are some of the things you would change?
SCOTT: Well right out of the blocks, the first feature film I did after getting the popularity in the television show was this "wondrous" film entitled "My Demon Lover." And I'm sure it's on your video shelf at home Peter, (laughter).
CJAD: Saw it, by the way.
SCOTT: Did you really!
CJAD: Yes I did.
SCOTT: See, I would not have done that film. If I had more knowledge I would have taken a very small part in a very well respected film, and not to seem as audacious as that, "yes I could carry a film and I'm going to jump over to this side of the fence like that" with the snap of a finger. I definitely would have chosen a smaller part in an "A" film. More qualitative projects that are better business choices in the way of investment to handle things better.
CJAD: How many years were you on "Family Ties?"
SCOTT: Four years.
CJAD: So around some point you must have been saying to yourself, "okay, I'm a regular character on a television show, there's always the possibility, as is the wont for a network to spin characters off." And I believe, if I'm not mistaken that at one point you had a pilot....
SCOTT: They did three.
SCOTT: They did three. Can you believe it? (laughter)
CJAD: With the same character, three!
SCOTT: We did one initially with Hershel Bernardi, do you remember Hershel Bernardi?
SCOTT: Okay, he played my grandfather and I came back to live with the family. Him being the patron of the family. We did the pilot. The network loved it. We did all the publicity brouhaha that goes with it. And two weeks before they were to name it on the schedule. Hershel died of massive heart attack at three in the morning. So that cancelled that. The second time around, the writing was so bad that I said I can't do this. The third time around it was a pilot written by a gentleman named Bruce Helford, who eventually went on to executive the Roseanne show, and felt she was a raving maniac and has since gone on to greener pastures since. But to give you the idea of Bruce's magnitude, we felt we had a very nifty show. And when they aired it, it came in number two and they still didn't pick it up. Then they hemmed and hawed and went back and forth. Finally towards late summer said, "geez, we'd like a shot at this again." And I said, "you know what guys, if I do this I'm gonna be Nick for the rest of my life. And we should put Nick to rest right now.
CJAD: Were you not worried about that after the four years? I mean before you even decided "maybe we could spin this character off?"
SCOTT: Well actually, the third pilot, which I just had mentioned, happened within the forth year. All the occurrences coincided with the final year of "Family Ties." And you, as much as it was a blessing it has been a curse as well. Talking with me for the few moments you have you can hear that I can conjugate verbs and form polysyllabic words. But unfortunately in a business that is founded on creativity, there's not that much of it and I've had to fight that image and that perception.
CJAD: So to a certain degree you have been typecast?
SCOTT: Oh sure. Pigeon holed. Thrown right in that slot. And I've taken steps to change that opinion. And I think maybe now some five and a half years after we finished taping the show that that corner is being turned.
CJAD: What are some of the steps you've taken to change?
SCOTT: Change my look physically, dramatically. From looking like a leftover from the 70s to trying to look like somebody living in the decade that's the final one of this century, and take roles of more magnitude. Which some of them are being recognized. Some of them, the projects turn out to be pure faeces. And it's just a process of chipping away, chipping away, and rebuilding.
CJAD: Do you just find it's just difficult naturally for an actor, because you started very young.
SCOTT: Well, I don't know, are we considering the starting point pre-run over or post run over?
CJAD: Post, I'm talking about your popularity on "Family Ties" and that the character was relatively young, maybe younger than you actually were.
SCOTT: Yeah, almost a decade I'd say.
CJAD: Okay, so the character was younger than you actually were and sometimes there's not only the typecasting of the character but there's the typecasting in age and people don't allow you actually grow up as an actor.
SCOTT: Definitely. Definitely. I mean, presently as I talk to you on the phone, I'm 36-years old and I have three children.
CJAD: So the doctors were completely wrong!
SCOTT: (Laughter) Ah, what do they know......But I went in for a meeting on a film, say a month ago, and it was for a gentleman who had two children, and the producer right in there said, "God, I love you're work, I think what you're doing is great, but you don't look old enough to have kids. And I said "I have three" and she said, "no you're kidding me." And I said, "yes, I do." "Are they yours?" Thank you very much. So yeah, so there's that bias as well. And you know very well, as your interest in this business will let you know that roles are for guys in their late teens to early twenties and there's a large gap if you're not the flavour of the month, there's a large gap in between say 25 and 35.
CJAD: I guess most recently the actor who has made that leap would be Keanu Reeves with "Speed." Do you see.....
SCOTT: Yeah, he's doing it, you know. He doing it. He's going from this lovely handsome young thing to a handsome young man and being perceived as an adult.
CJAD: Is that the kind of leap you'd like to make.
SCOTT: Oh, I'd love to. I'd love to. I think with this role that I'm playing in "Sirens"....ah, I've just finished a TV movie in Salt Lake City before this with Dennis Farina and Katherine Mary Stuart...and another movie before that with Alan Rock and Paige Hanna, that are all adult roles. So hopefully the change is coming.
CJAD: If you could choose the type of role you want to play, what would that be? Would you see yourself as a romantic lead, would you see yourself as an action hero? What?
SCOTT: Are we talking the logic that said what would be commercially acceptable and would enable me stability to feed my children for the next ions, or the role of the acting guy inside me that says, "I want to do this."
CJAD: Well, is there not something that could marry the two? Something that would feed your family and make you happy?
SCOTT: I don't know, because what would really make me happy is actually stage. To do "Orestes" by Euripides to do "Hamlet" to do "Macbeth." That would be a thrill, but you don't get paid that much for stage, you know. To play a leading role....oh God, what's a good example....the roles that Harrison Ford gets are fantastic roles.
CJAD: Okay, you just mentioned some serious theatre there and again there's the typecasting situation. I'll bring up Keanu Reeves' name again. He's doing a play in Canada out West and everyone's screaming about it because it's Shakespeare. And they're saying, "what is he doing? This is the guy from Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure" for crying out loud." Does going back to something that is also part of your roots.....you come from theatre....does even going back to theatre pose a bit of a problem because of the role you played on "Family Ties."
SCOTT: No, not so much. The only problem it poses is my wife says, "honey, we're not gonna make money doing this. You've got to make money." (laughter). "You're going to be gone from nine o'clock in the morning until midnight and I'll never see you. Who's gonna take care of me and the kids?" So that's the only problem that poses. Theatre is actually been much more liberal in their thinking and they're much more creative. I had actually passed on doing a tour of a major play because it would take me out and away from my children too long. I just can't give up a year on the road and be away from my kids.
CJAD: Would you like to do another television series?
SCOTT: I don't know Peter. I'm looking at the fall schedule and I read some of the scripts that they put money behind and I just don't get them. I really don't. If it was a good drama, yes, but as far as a comedy, no, I wouldn't. These comedies, I read them and they just are not funny to me. I mean, I enjoy "Frasier" very much. I enjoy "Seinfeld" very much, but they are a much higher calibre than the other stuff that's being cranked out.
CJAD: Speaking of cranked out, do you think Hollywood, and by this I mean the television industry perse, not necessarily the film industry....do you think they crank out shows, they crank out actors? I was just talking about this to somebody else today. You read stories in the paper about television stars who come back and do another series and they're talking about them as if they are has-beens, and they're having a comeback. Let's use you as an example. You were in a television series for four years and that was several years ago. If you were to start in a series tomorrow, it would be a comeback.
SCOTT: It definitely would. Definitely! And all the work that I've done in between....mind you since I got off "Family Ties" I've done about 15 television movies or independent features, and have been supporting my family rather comfortably....but they would view it as a comeback. It's very much a chew em up and spit em out business. Very much. In effect, if this one didn't work, we got 20 more in line. Let's grab the next one.
CJAD: One of the other things you do in addition to acting on stage, acting on screen and acting on television is acting with your voice.
SCOTT: Yes sir
CJAD: You do some cartoon work.
SCOTT: I have this fantastic cartoon that just started airing here two weeks ago. It comes on I think Saturdays at 7am. It's called "Phantom 2040" and I tell you, I get to work with some of the best people. The best. This is the cast. Mark Hamill, okay, here's another comeback player. Margo Kidder, another Canuck and another comeback player. Ron Perlman from "Beauty and the Beast", Deborah Harry from "Blondie", Carrie Snodgrass, remember her from "Diary Of A Mad Housewife?" Paul Williams, Alan Oppenheimer, who's on "Sunset Boulevard" on Broadway. I mean, these are all people that have had magnanimous success, have faltered in some ways and a have come back in other areas and they're just a great bunch of people to work with.
CJAD: How different is it for you as an actor to do just the voice work?
SCOTT: You know, I thought it would be just going in and, you know, we stand in front of the stand, there's the microphone, you read the lines, piece of cake! You get the script days before hand. You have to break it down as if you were doing it a play or a movie. And when we go in for rehearsals, they have the same director every time....this rather obnoxious short man named Stewart Rosen who drive you like a bull and has the audacity at times to say to you from the booth, "WHAT IS THAT, YOU CALL THAT ACTING? WHY DON'T YOU DO WHAT WE PAY YOU FOR?" (laughter) So it's great because you're exercising this acting muscles and you're doing it with these great talents, so it's a real treat. A real treat!
CJAD: We just have a couple of minutes to go and they going to kill me if I don't ask you about the role you're playing on "Sirens."
SCOTT: Okay, (laughter). On "Sirens" I am playing a detective who is implicated in a murder and his fear of not so much the implication as being wrong, but the fact that his sexuality being found out. He is a man that is divorced with one child, but he is also a homosexual. So he runs the risk of not only loosing his job, but loosing the visitation rights to his children. I think it's a great area to touch on because of the myopic view that society has of people of a different sexuality. Just with people's indifference in general, especially in America. We like to say that we're the land of the free and the melting pot, and we aren't that much of a melting pot. So a chance to do a role that will open up society's eyes a little bit is quite a treat for me.
CJAD: Well I thank you for talking with us. I'm glad we had an opportunity to let the listeners realize that there's more to you than Nick Moore.
SCOTT: Thank you very much, I appreciate it.