Scott Evans: Leading man

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Scott Evans

It’s time at last for qFLIX, our annual LGBT film festival. The beloved fest was postponed a number of times due to Covid-19, but it’s here now in a virtual fashion. The festival will run from November 5-30 with numerous opportunities to watch the films. As always, there will be comedies and dramas, documentaries and web series, and a bevy of stars. One of those stars is the lovely and talented Scott Evans. (Scott and his brother Chris — aka Captain America — have been a hilarious duo on late night talk shows). I had a chance to speak to the actor known for his start on the soap opera “One Life to Live” and role in films like The Lovely Bones and Confessions of a Shopaholic as well as a regular role on the NetFLix hit “Grace and Frankie”. His film “Almost Love”,  a charming comedy about romance in the smartphone era will open the festival. 

So let’s jump into it, I read that you’re from Beantown. 

Yes, I was born in a hospital in Boston but I was raised in Sudbury, Mass which is a half hour out of Boston. 

Tell me about the Evans household. 

Oh gosh! Well, first and foremost we were a very theatrical family. My older sister actually started doing shows at a local children’s theater and when my brother and I came of age and started doing after school activities, my mother decided it was easier to carpool if we all did the same thing! We liked it and eventually it became a big family affair. My mother actually ended up taking over the theater troupe when the original owner retired and she’s still running it to this day! 

I understand that your father was a dentist and your mother was a dancer. Does that mean you had good teeth and good moves?

Well yes, we had a dance floor in our basement and we’d get tap lessons in the basement. We were all in love with it so it never seemed like work or training, it was like, “Yes! This is fun, let’s all do it!” And of course if we ever had any dental problems, my dad could take care of it. 

What was your best show moment?

Goodness, I think it was a time when all four siblings performed together at a regional theater. My older sister was a senior in high school and my little sister was in 5th or 6th grade and it was the best fun. I even got my dad to act! I was in a show and one of the cast members had to drop out. For some reason, my 10-year-old brain told the director that my dad studied drama at Yale. Crazy, but he ended up doing the show. I’ve been in a show with my mother too, so I’m the only one that’s gotten everyone up on a stage with me! 

You and Chris are obviously very close, I’ve seen the both of you on Jimmy Fallon, but brothers squabble. What’s the dumbest fight you ever had?

You know it’s crazy, we’ve always been so close we’ve never fought in anger. We loved to roughhouse and wrestle to the point where you had those moments when you’d look up and our mother would be standing there glaring and you’d think, “Oh boy, we’re in trouble” but we lucked out and never had that sibling rivalry or anger towards each other. We blossomed from best friends as kids to best friends as adults. 

Who got his head bashed?

[Laughing] I have had my head bashed open two times, the first time was my older sister’s fault and the second time was my brother’s fault. We had a trampoline in the backyard and at 2 years old I wanted to do whatever they did and paid for it with a trampoline injury, but it was one of those, “Can we keep playing?” “No, you need stitches…” types of things. It was always in good fun. 

Did you ever see the episode of the Simpson’s when Homer got a trampoline? There’s a scene that spoofs Gone with the Wind, with all the wounded lined up on the ground. 

No, I haven’t! 

I’ll send you a link; it’s hysterical. What was a memorable stage moment?

When I was young, around 10-13, there was a musical called “Falsettos” that the local theater was putting on. My mother asked if I wanted to audition for it. I did and I got the part. After that, I kind of got passed around to every local company doing the show. Eventually I got to do it with the Boston Conservatory and toured with them on the East coast. Being a 12 year old kid getting to travel with college kids doing what I loved was an experience that can’t be beat. 

That does sound cool. What do you think was your breakthrough role?

Oh gosh, I don’t even know! We did, so many, so many shows growing up, but I will say one of the best experiences was at the high school I went to. We usually didn’t do musicals, it was more Shakespeare shows set to music, but my sophomore they did “Damn Yankees” and I got to play young Joe Hardy and it was so much fun and such an amazing moment. [Laughing] My voice didn’t change until I was very old, so a lot of the parts I played were young and the song keys and to be changed for me! 

What was an early sign that you were gay?

I don’t really have any memories of when it clicked for me. I grew up in such an accepting environment that it just kind of was. But I do remember that when we toured with “Falsettos” we went to Provincetown, which of course is a big LGBTQ resort town. I remember walking down the street and seeing drag queens and guys in speedos and men holding hands and thinking, “Huh, okay, I think this is me. This makes sense here.” When I grew up there weren’t many gay people on TV or chances to see people like me, so to be immersed in a town full of LGBTQ people it started clicking for me. I thought, when I get older, this is where I’ll come back to. 

We used to go to Fire Island and it wasn’t until years later that I realized, “Oh, that’s why I used to like it so much!” How old were you when you came out?

I graduated high school early and moved to NY to go to school. I knew that I wanted to leave Sudbury and move someplace where I could figure myself out. I met people in school and in the city, and I just was out, later I told my sister and then the rest of the family. 

Were you ever concerned about being an “out” actor?

You know, back then it didn’t even strike me, I feel for the people who felt they had to stay in the closet, I know people who have stories of roles disappearing once they came out, but for me, I never thought, “Do I want to be an out actor?” I just knew that I wanted to be an out person and that was more important than worrying about jobs later on. 

I read your bio on IMDB and under trivia it says, “He is kissed 35 times by Nadia Bjorlin in “I Know Where Lizzy Is.” 

OH MY Goodness! What!?! That’s so funny. Well, one of my friends watched it and the first thing she said to me was, “You and Nadia were making out the whole movie!!” I didn’t even realize it, but lucky me, she’s gorgeous. 

The soaps were your first really visible roles. Tell me about being on “One Life to Live.” 

It was incredible. I was originally supposed to do a 5 episode arc playing this nerdy character and then they brought me back and 160 something episodes later, after I’d slept with every woman on the show, they had my character come out. Being able to tell the story of someone coming out was amazing. I wasn’t the first gay character on a soap, but I was the first to do a same-sex sex scene which was cool. It’s fun to have that in my back pocket. It might not have meant much to other people but it meant the world to me. It was such a wonderful experience and I met so many amazing people as a result. 

I’m sure you got a lot of positive responses, but was there any pushback?

It was mostly positive, but I remember the actress who was playing the mother of David’s character had a problem doing a scene where she was supportive of the gay character. She objected on religious grounds and she ended up getting fired. She was on the show before me and for them to take such a strong stand was very cool. 

You hear stories about soap actors having lines hidden all over the set, is that true?

Oh absolutely! There were days when you had to go in and there were 40 pages of dialogue in a day, and in soaps there are no second takes. They have to produce 5 shows in a week, and there’s just no time for that. So you’d go in knowing your lines, but you would have scripts hidden just in case. 

Let’s jump to the film playing in the festival, “Almost Love.” How did you get involved?

I read the script and it felt like it was me on the page. Stereotypes are very real still in the LGBTQ community, we often play the sassy best friend or the well dressed witty assistant, but this script felt real. I was so excited and I immediately sent in an audition tape and I got the part. Then I realized that I was #1 on the call sheets which meant that I was playing the lead role in a film with people like Kate Walsh, Michelle Buteau, Augustus Prew, Colin Donnell, and Patricia Clarkson! It was like, what? This is crazy! But it was probably one of the best experiences in my life, working with the director Mike Doyle was such a treat. There’s a different feeling when you are being directed by someone who is an actor themselves. The cast and crew all worked together so well, it was a true ensemble piece. We all fell in love with each other. 

You’ve had a chance to work with some amazing women, of course Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda being tops on the list. 

Yeah, that was crazy! My first day on the set of Grace and Frankie was a group scene with Lily and Jane and Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston, and I remember thinking, “I do not belong here!” but they were so much fun and welcoming. Growing up, my siblings and I would watch movies over and over and one of them was 9 to 5. I could quote it backwards and forwards so it was all I could do NOT to quote lines to Jane Fonda! I was texting my family all day and my mother was like, “Tell Jane that I had her workout videos!” and I was like, “It’s great that you did, but I’m not going to tell Jane that.” 

I got a letter from Lily Tomlin once. I was a teenager and went to one of her shows. I got to meet her backstage and invited her over to my parents house for dinner! She declined, but sent me a letter later thanking me for the invite. 

That sounds like her, she was so loving. Sometimes you get divas who read their lines and then go back to the trailer, but not these guys, they’d hang out and read lines, there was lots of laughing and it was a great experience all around. 

I read that during the shutdown you and Chris watched a lot of classic animated films. 

Oh yeah, we made a huge list of movies from our childhood to watch. We started knocking out ones we hadn’t seen in ages and a lot of them were animated, like “American Tail.” Watching it again we were like, “This movie is incredible!” It’s amazing what they did without the technology we have now. 

I don’t know that I ever saw that, I think I’ve just seen bits and pieces. 

Oh my goodness, with Fievel! You have to go back and watch it Suzi. 

Okay! The funny thing is I joined Big Sisters in great part because I wanted to be able to go to the theater to see g-rated movies without looking like a pedophile, but when I took my little sis to see “The Land Before time,” she was like, “This is boring, I’d rather see Freddie Kruger…”

I’ve been there! At the risk of embarrassing myself, I saw the Hannah Montana movie, opening night, in the theater with one of my best friends. It’s hard not to look like a creep when you’re a 20-something year old male sitting in the dark with a bunch of teenage girls! But hey, I was a fan and I had to do it. 

So your film is opening night at qFLIX, have you been to Philly before?

Funny story, I was flying to NY one time and taking a red eye and there was a change over in Philly. It was 4am and they canceled the connecting flight. Problem was I had to be on set at One Life to Live at 7am! Fortunately, I knew someone in Philly. I woke them up at 4am and they were kind enough to get up and drive me to NY. So I didn’t really see Philly but I felt the hospitality of the city of brotherly love. And I love the history of Philadelphia. 

It’s very similar to Boston from that aspect. I went to Emerson College there. 

I almost went there! It was Emerson or NYU and I decided it was too tempting to be close enough to run home for dinner. I wanted a little more autonomy. 

I’m sure this isn’t the first film festival you’ve participated in. Why are they so important to you?

There’s not a huge market for small films to be seen, especially ones with LGBTQ subject matter. Big production companies aren’t chomping at the bit to finance LGBTQ romcoms. So these festivals are a chance to include these stories and these actors and to have a place where they can be shown and appreciated. It’s so important, it’s a bummer that we aren’t able to meet in person, but luckily festivals like qFLIX aren’t canceled, they’re just changing formats and finding new ways of getting the films to people. Knowing how important these outlets are for these stories, the film festivals are priceless.

A Q&A and awards presentation is scheduled for Sunday, November 29. Scott Evans will be receiving an Artistic Achievement in Acting Award, and Director of Almost Love, Mike Doyle, as well as Haaz Sleiman from Breaking Fast will be participating. Details will be available soon at qFLIXPhilly.com.