London-born actor Scott Butler has had a wonderful 2019. With his delightful turn as “Oliver” on the acclaimed AMC series Lodge 49 (described by fans as Better Call Saul meets The Big Lebowski), Butler has displayed an unmistakable talent playing comedy, drama and horror.
Butler, who studied at the Aaron Speiser Acting Studio, the William Alderson Acting Studio and the prestigious voice acting studio Kalmenson & Kalmenson in Burbank, remains busy with many projects. Audiences can soon see the actor in Attack of the Unknown (co-starring American Pie actress Tara Reid and If Looks Could Kill star Richard Greico) and can be heard as the narrator of Gregory Hatanaka’s new film Darling Nikki starring Independence Day actor James Duval and actress Jamie Bernadette (I Spit on Your Grave: Déjà Vu).
Butler was kind enough to talk to us about how he began acting, his approach in playing a diverse range of styles from comedic to frightening (Jack the Ripper) and of course, his work in Lodge 49.
Jason Sheppard: Where are you from and when did you first become interested in acting?
Scott Butler: I was born in south east London, but mostly grew up in Kent, outside of London. I also spent a few years as a child living in Auckland, New Zealand. My first memories of the idea of acting, came when I was around 11 or so years old. I’ve always been a huge fan of the Star Wars movies, and somewhere around Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, I realized that people did this for a living and it looked like so much fun! Sadly, not much happened with it. I did the usual school nativity play when I was around seven years old and remember walking into a high school acting class when I was 12 or 13, but quickly left—it looked so daunting at the time!
JS: What were your early acting years like?
SB: Aside from the school nativity play, my first real step into acting was when I was 36 years old. I was between corporate jobs (I have worked as an artist in video games for 30 years to date), and wanted to try something while I was looking for a new job. I decided on trying an acting class in San Diego, where I was living at the time. I remember driving there and walking down a gloomy corridor to the class, but had second thoughts and left before entering. I changed my mind as I drove down the road and came back. I guess that was the big turning point where all of this came from!
JS: Did you move to pursue acting? Why?
SB: I did two years of acting in San Diego, which was a nice starting point—fun little indie films, and also booked 16-Love while living there, which was fantastic. But then I decided early 2011 to move up to Los Angeles, as I was driving there several times a week for auditions and jobs, and my poor car was getting way too many miles on it. I remember it being a bit scary: new town, new people, and a lot more of a serious acting community and a ton of competition! But it was also a very exciting move with endless possibilities, I still live there today.
JS: I’m interviewing you from Newfoundland, Canada. What was the feeling you had upon winning Best Actor from the Canadian International Film Festival in 2011 for your stage debut?
SB: It was surreal. I remember being on set for a San Diego production, and had left my phone in my bag as you couldn’t take it on set. I had two missed calls. One was letting me know that they wanted me to come in for a callback for 16-Love which they ended up just giving to me as the callback slots were filled up. The second missed call was from the director of a short film I was the lead in: Abeo. He was up in Vancouver for the Canada International Film Festival, and I knew that the film was nominated for best short. When I called him back he said “sadly we didn’t win, but…you won the entire festival.” I didn’t understand what he meant, it was something like April 4th and told him that it was too late to play an April fool’s joke on me. He laughed and said “yeah, seriously, you won Best Actor for the entire festival. They’ll be in touch about sending the crystal statue and plaque to you.” They arrived a couple of weeks later. I couldn’t believe it. I was a little sad that I hadn’t attended to receive the trophy and plaque in person, but was very surprised and honored to have won.
JS: From looking at your acting reels, I have to say you put me in the mind of Hugh Grant early in his career, who you would see in a comedy role and then a drama. Do you enjoy exploring your dramatic and comedic sides?
SB: Oh yes, in general I love playing all roles, from nerdy bow-tied professors and assistants all the way over to serial killers, assassins and more. I love the variety and trying on different characters, seeing what I can do with them. I do sometimes get typecast as the nerdy bespectacled Brit, but still get plenty of opportunities to try on more grittier roles. I love comedy a lot, and want to do more of that in the future. I had a lot of fun with the regional Emmy-winning show Hollywood Hell playing Jack the Ripper. That was a blast, so fun and crazy!
JS: Tell us about your role in Lodge 49? Had you seen the show previously?
SB: I had auditioned for the role of Jocelyn Pugh nearly a year prior, for Season 1. The role went to the incredible British actor Adam Godley, who was fantastic in the role. So at the time I looked up the show, but as it was still in production for the first season, all there was to go on was a brief description of the show in press articles, it being green-lit and that Paul Giamatti was executive-producing it. But when I got the audition for the role of Oliver in Season 2, I now was able to binge-watch the first season, and hand on heart, absolutely loved it. I love quirky shows (being quite quirky myself). The funny thing was that I was sent the audition directly from the casting director herself. At that time I was without representation, but she had me in her database from previous auditions when I had a rep. I did the self-tape then two days later was sent the offer. I was so ecstatic and excited! When it came to shooting, it was such a lovely experience, everyone on set was so nice and easy to work with and the detail and passion that went into that show was incredible.
JS: With the sad news that AMC had cancelled the series, the hashtag #savelodge49 began trending on Twitter with support from Tom Hanks, Russell Crowe, Ken Jeong and Amy Schumer, who all counted themselves as fans of the show. Recently, there were reports that executive producer Paul Giamatti was trying to set the series up on another service. Would you be interested in returning if that were to happen?
SB: Yes, sadly it was recently cancelled, but the cast, crew and the amazing fans are all chipping in with #savelodge49 hashtags on Twitter while the producers and creators talk to other networks to pick it up. And yes absolutely, I would love to come back if they offered it, but being honest, all of the posts I’ve put up trying to help them spread the word about getting the show renewed are just because I want the show to continue, with or without me, I really hope the show gets picked up and they make more of them as they absolutely deserve it, and the story is really starting to unfold, would love to see where it goes!
JS: What have you discovered about yourself as an actor?
SB: I think one of the big things I’ve discovered is that I am a lot braver than I thought I was from when I first started. I remember being quite scared (but also excited) by it all at the beginning and didn’t have much belief in myself to tackle much of what we do in acting. But over the years I decided to take on all of the obstacles and when I succeeded it really added to my belief in what I can do. Also I believe I’ve learned a lot about myself through my acting, observing my mannerisms, reactions and my personality that comes out under each character. I don’t like watching myself in my roles but do it so that I can better understand what it is I’m able to do and who I am. A lot of people who start out in this business don’t realize that it is a business when you are competing in the bigger projects. You have to understand yourself, as in a way, you are a product that you are trying to sell to producers to include you in their production and understanding who you really are (instead of who you’d like to be or who you think you are) is paramount to making progress.
JS: What future aspirations do you have? Are there any particular genres you’d love to play a role in?
SB: I have been gradually transitioning from large roles in smaller projects to small roles in large projects, so I’m on a path to continue that and move more into that space. I still look at smaller projects if they are exciting to me, but I am keeping my main focus on moving up. As far as genres, I would love to do some sci-fi and fantasy. I’m quite a nerd and fan of those genres. I would also love to play some really juicy villain roles. Everyone loves the token villainous Brit, so maybe I have a chance to do that on a large project, we’ll see!
JS: What is something people may not know about you but you would like them to?
SB: I’m a daydreamer. I think a lot of us in this business are. I remember when I was about 13 years old at school and my desk in History class was against the window. While the teacher was talking, I was looking out of the window up at the clouds, imagining dragons and spaceships flying around! The teacher yelled at me “Mr. Butler, are you still with us?” Yeah, I’m still that 13 year old inside, I love escapism, adventure and the idea of there being “more” out there!
JS: What can we look forward to seeing you in next?
SB: I have a few films coming out soon. There’s the sci-fi horror movie Attack of the Unknown starring Tara Reid, Richard Grieco and Robert LaSardo., I played two roles in this movie: Michael Mahal and Sonny Mahal. The producers of this movie are ones to watch, they have some great movies coming out. Also there’s a thriller called Choke from Gregory Hatanaka, a fun horror movie Los Angeles Shark Attack from Dustin Ferguson and I’m also being considered for a huge budget movie, fingers crossed on that!