Andrew Scott on “doing unspeakable things” to Paul Mescal in romantic drama ‘All Of Us Strangers’

Andrew Scott on “doing unspeakable things” to Paul Mescal in romantic drama ‘All Of Us Strangers’

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Image Credit: ‘All of Us Strangers,’ Searchlight Pictures

Andrew Scott is in his leading man era.

The 47-year old Irish character actor has made a name for himself shape-shifting into all kinds of roles, from the villainous (in 007 film Spectre, as Moriarty in Sherlock) to the sympathetic (a bullied gay man in 2014’s Pride, a well-meaning father in last year’s Catherine Called Birdy) to the downright hot (as the “Hot Priest” of Fleabag).

But this year makes a major shift in Scott’s career, especially with the impending arrival of All Of Us Strangers, his first proper leading role on screen.

From acclaimed filmmaker Andrew Haigh (Weekend, Looking, 45 Years), the film adapts Taichi Yamada’s 1987 novel Strangers for modern-day London and delves into new thematic territory by making its lead character a forty-something gay man.

Adam (Scott) is a lonely screenwriter living in an urban high-rise, the monotony of his life broken up by the attention of a younger neighbor named Harry (Paul Mescal). Eventually, the two strike up a cautious-yet-tender romance.

Around that same time, Adam takes a train trip back to his hometown, visiting the home he grew up in, where he’s surprised to find his parents (Claire Foy, Jamie Bell) looking the same age as the day they tragically died in a car accident, decades earlier.

So, are they ghosts? Well, sort of. As Adam navigates his peculiar new relationship with his parents—where he’s somehow now older than they appear—his feelings become entwined with his connection to Harry in surprising, moving, and heartbreaking ways.

Scott is a revelation in All Of Us Strangers, and has been quietly building Oscar buzz since its debut at the Telluride Film Festival. The lauded film role, coupled with his stage work in a revival of Uncle Vanya in London’s West End and his upcoming Netflix adaptation of The Talented Mr. Ripley, has earned Scott the title of one of GQ‘s “Men Of The Year.”

In the accompanying feature, Scott shares many nuggets of wisdom and insights into his life and career, so we’ve highlighted a few of the most fascinating and illuminating below:

Andrew Scott on becoming the “Hot Priest”

On one hand, the actor doesn’t seem to mind his breakthrough role on Fleabag turned him into one of the internet’s objects of thirst:

“I think there’s a difference between objectification and admiration. So no, I didn’t, it didn’t ever bother me.”

But it does sound like the fame and attention the “Hot Priest” moniker brought him had Scott re-thinking what he does and doesn’t share with the world:

“I never shy away from showing the ugly side of myself or the ridiculous side of myself or the really fragile parts of myself,” he says. “But I think if you’re going to do that then you don’t give all of it.”

On coming out

The unique, supernatural circumstances of All Of Us Strangers mean that Scott’s character, Adam, is now presented with a unique opportunity and challenge he never thought he’d face: Coming out to his parents. The film’s approach to the subject matter had the actor reflecting on his own coming out in childhood—in Ireland, no less, where homosexuality was illegal until he was 16.

“I had a very happy childhood, but there’s an inevitable pain that you have to go through when you have to take a risk telling your family something about yourself. I really do think that that is a gift now, because to have to risk everything, and for your family and friends to say ‘we accept you no matter what,’ that’s a real feeling of love that you get confirmed at a very young age, that actually some people who aren’t queer don’t get. I mean, some queer people aren’t so lucky.”

Scott continues, remembering how he struggled to come to terms with his sexuality at the time:

“There was so much of me that was quite fearful, actually, and ignoring that side of me. What’s difficult sometimes for gay people is that you don’t get to experience this sort of adolescence where you go, ‘Oh my god, I like that person, do they like me back?’”

I think that’s maybe why [All Of Us Strangers] feels so gratifying and cathartic. Because I did have to bring so much of my own pain into it.”

On being “out” in the entertainment industry

Scott publicly came out in a 2013 interview with The Independent, but says, for years before that, he was advised my colleagues and peers to remain closeted if he ever wanted to have a successful career:

“I was encouraged, by people in the industry who I really admired and who had my best interests at heart, to keep that [to myself.] I understand why they gave that advice, but I’m also glad that I eventually ignored it.

Sometimes I find the prurient nature of the way we talk about it a little bit exhausting. It’s both very important to talk about and sometimes I feel like I wish we didn’t [end] up talking about it.’

On filming sex scenes with Paul Mescal

All Of Us Strangers has already garnered some headlines for its sensitive and sensual (and messily authentic!) depiction of sex between Scott and Mescal’s characters. And while they’re not necessarily explicit, the actor notes how they arouse in other ways:

“A lot of the time, the thing that is actually more provocative isn’t the sex, but the tenderness.”

Still, even in the most tender moments, Scott says he and his co-star couldn’t shake how funny it felt to film them in front of a whole crew of people:

“We had a laugh. Jesus, it’s f*cking 7:30 in the morning and you’re doing unspeakable things to each other, surrounded by men in three-quarter length trousers.”

On the nature of acting

Though Scott has spent most of the last 30 years of his career carefully choosing what to share with the world in order to protect himself, he’s come to realize that even “playing pretend” for a living means getting vulnerable and putting yourself out there. The GQ piece ends with one final nugget of wisdom from Scott:

“The more I continue in this job, the more I realize it’s about revealing who you are much more than it is about pretending to be somebody else.”


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