Interview: Scott Speedman Talks About 'Underworld'

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Scott Speedman got his start in films with the short feature, Can I Get a Witness, which screened at the 1996 Toronto International Film Festival. Born in London but raised in Toronto, Speedman came to the attention of American audiences with his role as Ben in the TV series Felicity, opposite Keri Russell.

Underworld director Len Wiseman had seen Speedman on Felicity, but what sold him on Scott was his attitude toward the project.

“Scott takes everything in this film seriously and wants it to be as real as possible,” commented Wiseman.

Hunted by a Clan of Werewolves

As the young doctor Michael Corvin in 2003's Underworld, Speedman’s hunted down by a clan of werewolves. This hunt attracts the attention of the vampire Selene (Kate Beckinsale) who comes to Dr. Corvin’s aid while trying to discover just what it is about Corvin that makes him a target of the werewolves.

While his medical research was done on his own time at a hospital in Budapest, the filmmakers put Speedman through training courses to get him prepared for the action sequences.

“I fight like a girl so I had to. It was fun. I was really cranked to do that stuff, more the wire training than the hitting people. That was really fun to get pulled up in the air and pretend you know what you’re doing,” joked Speedman, adding, “I wasn’t so bad. I’ve got some scars on my back from being dragged along. There was a nail on the ground once and they were pulling me on wires. The stunt guys are so macho that I went and showed it to them and they’re like, ‘Yeah, whatever.’ You don’t get any sympathy.”

Kate Beckinsale's Vampire Character Selene

Beckinsale’s character is proficient with weapons so the actress underwent special training with guns. Scott’s character doesn’t need to have that prowess so his personal lack of gun knowledge worked in his favor. She explained,

“I get to carry a gun once in the movie and I didn’t know what I was doing, and that was appropriate. I’m the ‘girlfriend’. Every time I’ve got this shocked look on my face and she throws me to the ground. I’m screaming in terror. When I was watching it I was like, ‘Wow, how weird.’ I’m fine with it. I’m glad I didn’t have to know what I was doing with guns. That was easy for me.”

The Challenge of a Movie Set

Perhaps the hardest thing for Speedman to do was to sit through five hours of werewolf makeup. He mentioned that it was a challenge and that the set was worried because he has a hyper personality. When the make-up artists are at work, they tend to talk to the actors as they mold them and perform their artistry. Speedman elaborates, "If you move, they get kind of nervous. I was pretty fascinated watching [them]."

Speedman enjoyed his time on the set so much he returned for the 2006 sequel, Underworld: Evolution. He said that the most difficult types of acting were his favorite parts, from the makeup to big fight sequences. These types of scenes were fun but challenging for him. He explained, "I’ve never done anything like this and I didn’t think I would unless it was good. It took me a long time to rest and get over it." Speedman also mentioned that the work can be grueling, and he can get obsessive, but it still motivates him to work hard to do the job well.