I recently got the chance to talk to Scott Takeda about his role in Will Ferrell’s new UK release, ‘Everything Must Go’. Here, Scott talks about what it was like working with Will and director Dan Rush and about his role in Disney’s ‘Lemonade Mouth’…
Hey Scott. Thanks for taking the time out to talk to me. ‘Everything Must Go’ is currently in limited cinemas in the UK right now.
What’s the general plotline surrounding the film?
The story follows Will Ferrell who plays an alcoholic salesperson who loses his job and his wife on the same day. He comes home to find his front yard littered with his belongings and the locks changed. The film follows Will as he begins to deal with the dysfunction of his life while selling off all of his belongings in an “Everything Must Go” yard sale.
Tell us a bit about the character you play in the movie…
After Will gets tossed out of his home, he realizes that all of his debit and credit cards don’t work while trying to buy some booze. I play a bank manager who tries to help Will’s character through his financial crisis.
How did you get involved in the project in the first place?
My agent called me in March 2010, telling me that the casting people were interested in seeing me for the role. At the time I was out-of-state, so the casting director allowed me to tape and send a video file with my read. And now that I think of it, the entire auditioning process happened long distance because I also taped the callback session with notes from the director. The first time I met the director and producers in person was my first day on set. It’s just amazing how technology can allow you to work long distance like that.
How would you say this film is different and unique?
This is a drama, and Will doesn’t do a lot of dramas. However he does them so well. As a viewer, you believe that he’s a recently fired alcoholic. You believe that he’s in pain. You believe that he’s struggling to find meaning in a life that’s fraying.
I give a lot of the credit to director Dan Rush who did a great job of setting the right tone for the film. He was very specific in how he wanted us to play the scene. And when you watch the film you see why. The start of the film immediately hits you with the sense of loss, and after the first five minutes, you realize this is serious, and you’re in for an emotional ride.
The film stars Will Ferrell, Christopher Jordan Wallace, Rebecca Hall, Michael Pena and Stephen Root – with Dan Rush onboard as director – what was it like working with the cast and crew on-set?
It was great. I didn’t have a chance to meet Stephen Root, but I obviously worked with Will and spent some time with Rebecca, Michael, and Glenn Howerton off set. We spent an evening in the hotel bar during my time there. Most of them had just arrived and were working the following day, but it was so interesting learning how they all got into the business. Rebecca said she was born into the business as the daughter of Peter Hall (founder of the Royal Shakespeare Company). Glenn went to drama school. And Michael told the story of how he grew up on the streets of Chicago and went to an open call for a film and booked the role. It was so amazing to hear how all of us came from such varying backgrounds.
Will was extremely nice and professional. I was especially impressed because he came to the set with his script in a leather-bound notebook, and his script had all these pencil notes on them. (I now carry a leather-bound notebook with plenty of pockets for notes.) Also during our moments off-screen, we talked about the 2010 Oscars that had just happened a few weeks before and hung out with director Dan Rush and producer Marty Bowen.
Dan was amazing to work with. He was also the screenwriter, so he allowed Will and I to improvise some takes. Dan also wrote a last-minute change to the script that actually made my lines more comedic. He ended up leaving those changes out in the final edit, but it was an honour to share the comedy stage with Will.
Let’s talk a bit about you Scott. What made you want to get into acting in the first place?…I understand you were a journalist in news rooms early on?
I basically fell into the business without knowing that I wanted to be in it. I started my professional career working in TV newsrooms in Idaho, Ohio, Colorado, and Philadelphia. I started out as a reporter, however I looked very young in my 20’s, so I knew I had little chance to advance in my career since most people thought I looked like I was a high school student. So I moved behind the camera as a photojournalist and producer, and climbed the ladder very quickly. However I missed being on camera. I remember right before I moved to take the Philadelphia job, casting directors were holding open calls to be extras in a Steven Seagal film that was shooting where I was living. I remember thinking that if I wasn’t moving; I would have gone for it. And then when I was in Philadelphia, Bruce Willis was shooting ’12 Monkeys’ there, and I wanted to be in that, but ended up moving before I could go to the open call.
So as time passed, and I eventually left TV news, I began experimenting with acting. It was primarily as a VO talent, and then I started acting classes, got an agent, and started booking local commercials. To be honest, I primarily did it as a hobby up until about three years ago when I realized that this is what makes me happy. So I got very serious about it, and that’s when I started booking studio films and TV shows.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to get into the industry?
I’d say you have to love it. This is a tough business, so if you don’t love it, it will likely burn you out. I speak from experience having worked in TV news. I burned out in news because I just didn’t love covering local news stories. I liked it and thought it was an admirable profession, but I didn’t love it. The folks who last in TV news are hard-core news junkies. They literally live and breathe it every hour of the day. That’s just not me.
I’m not saying that the entertainment industry is the same, but it’s a difficult business. For me, my driving force to be in it is that I’m a born visual storyteller. It’s who I am, so I have no back-up plan. I have no other outlets for my passions. Telling stories through images IS my passion. I love it, and it’s what feeds me spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically.
You’ve been in a number of different TV series and films – who has been your favourite actor/actress to work with so far?
I obviously loved working with Will Ferrell. I also enjoyed working with Robert DeNiro in ‘Little Fockers’. I found him to be incredibly nice and humble. I also loved working with Naomi Watts on ‘Fair Game’. She was just so accommodating and gracious. We were working in New York which is where she lives, and her second son Sammy was an infant at the time, and had kept her up all night. However she was very professional and courteous during our long shoot.
We should probably mention that you were in Disney’s ‘Lemonade Mouth’ – what was it like working on that project? Is it one of those projects that you have got the most recognition for?
I loved working on that project because it’s such a positive, inspirational story. It’s my favourite project to date. And yes, I’ve gotten a lot of recognition from being in the film. I was just in Romania last week for a friend’s wedding, and I handed out five autographed photos to Romanian girls who knew who I was.
I know that ‘Lemonade Mouth’ recently premiered on Disney Channel U.K., and I’m just amazed at how the story has resonated with so many people. I’m very proud to be associated with that project.
Also the cast and crew were so amazing. I know as an actor, I’m supposed to say that but it’s literally true. The young leads were simply the nicest group of people I’ve been around. And the crew was literally top-notch. There were a lot of very long hot days on the set, and some scenes had literally hundreds of extras, but everything went smoothly and everyone was calm and professional through some challenging days.
What is your favourite holiday destination and why?
Well, my lovely bride and I just got back from the Transylvania region of Romania two days ago, so we loved that area. It was very beautiful with the Transylvania Alps surrounding the rolling hills. However I’d have to say that my favourite holiday destination so far has been Peru. We like traveling to parts of the world that are a little rougher around the edges and where we can be active and explore. Peru was perfect for that, with the Amazonian rain forests where our room was designed to have three walls (the fourth wall being the jungle) to the high altitude Andes where we climbed up to a lake 4600 meters high, to the mysterious Inka Trail which we climbed on our way to Machu Picchu.
What’s coming up for you in 2011/12?
Hopefully more of the same. I’m so grateful where I am in my life. I love doing what I do, and want to do it as long as I can.
On the acting front, I’ve been reading for recurring roles on TV shows as well as some nice supporting roles on studio features. I just had a callback yesterday for a very nice role in an independent feature film called ‘Stars’.
And when I’m not in front of the camera, I also work as a director. My filmmaking partner and I already have shot two short films this year, and we’re hoping to get a third one done before the years end. We’ve gotten a few of our films into festivals, so we’re excited to start looking at scripts to shoot more.
Thanks for the interview!