Scott Speedman has played a vampire-werewolf hybrid in "Underworld," Channing Tatum's romantic foil in "The Vow," and most notably, the chiseled crush who prompts Keri Russell's titular heroine to ditch Stanford for faux NYU on "Felicity."
And now, in "Citizen Gangster," based on the true story of Canadian outlaw Edwin Boyd, Speedman takes on the role of a disillusioned World War II vet with Hollywood aspirations who becomes a media sensation after he turns to robbing banks.
Speedman talked to The Huffington Post about preparing to play Toronto's most wanted, working with Ryan Gosling way back when and finding no shame in the series that bestowed him with heartthrob status.
What attracted you to “Citizen Gangster”?
It was definitely the character itself. I just had never played anything remotely close to this. He was a very extreme guy and did a lot of crazy things, and the idea of playing him definitely scared me.
Did you do a lot of background research on Edwin Boyd?
To a point, but it’s not like playing Abraham Lincoln, where he’s so visible. At the end of the day, I put that research down and went with my instincts on what I thought was the truest way to portray this man.
What was your favorite part of filming?
I loved doing the bank robbery stuff. It was sort of like being a little kid getting to do all that -- jumping over counters and sticking retro guns in people’s faces. It was wild.
Did you rob any banks to prepare for the role, or do you veer away from method acting?
I did a lot of nerdy acting preparation stuff, but I did not rob any banks. I didn’t hold up any of my friends, or anything like that. I tried to have fun with it.
If you could rob any building or store, morality aside, what would it be?
Saks 5th Avenue? [laughs] Or, some big museum.
Have you ever stolen anything?
I stole a cookie once, from a kid in my class, and got caught. The teacher asked me if I stole a cookie, and I said no. But then she made me open my mouth and I had cookie all over my mouth. That was the last time -- I got so reprimanded. My parents were not that pleased. So, I’ve always been too scared to steal.
What do you think the film says about the nature of celebrity, given how Edwin’s acting ambition gives way to notoriety as a gangster?
I think he was looking for attention and adulation and love, if you want to get psychological about it. Probably, his dad didn’t love him enough, so he’s out there looking for love from anywhere he can get it, which I think a lot of celebrities are doing these days.
Any plans to revive the mustache you wore in the film?
I think that one’s going to be retired. I love the mustache, but it’s hard to maintain -- too much time in front of the mirror.
Of all the characters you’ve played, which does your real-life personality most resemble?
There’s something that happens when you do a TV show -- especially the one that I did -- they sort of gear things toward you. Certainly, that character was close to who I was at that time, on “Felicity.” But now, there’s a lot of me in Eddie Boyd too.
Is there a common thread throughout the roles you choose? You’ve said that you tend to play damaged characters.
There’s a reason for that -- they’re exciting and they’re more interesting to play. I have trouble playing just your average guys who are just calm and neutral and don’t have a lot of complications. That seems to be more of a problem to me than playing complicated characters that are slightly damaged. I don’t know what that says about me.
You’re currently filming “Barefoot” in New Orleans with Evan Rachel Wood. How’s that going?
It’s a romantic comedy. I’m a guy who works at a mental institution, and I have to bring a date to my brother’s wedding. I sort of kidnap a patient, and that’s Evan Rachel Wood, and love and drama ensue. She’s an amazing actress -- always ready to go.
You and (fellow Canadian) Ryan Gosling appeared on “Goosebumps” together back in 1996. What was he like?
He was the sweetest kid ever. I think he was 15 and I was 19. It was just a one-scene thing, but he was definitely the sweetest, nicest, most open kid -- very cool guy.
James Van Der Beek recently said the “Dawson’s Creek” theme song makes him want to hide. Is the "Ben from ‘Felicity’" association hard to shake?
Yes and no. That’s probably something people still identify me with, but that’s fine. It’s something I’m still really proud of doing. That’s always going to be there.
In retrospect, should Felicity have chosen Ben or Noel?
Oh my god, I don’t know.
You were a competitive swimmer growing up. Did you get teased about your last name?
Yeah, all the time. It was never a making-fun thing, but “Speedy” was my nickname. A lot of people still call me Speedy.
"Citizen Gangster" opens in theaters and on VOD April 27.
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