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Interview: Scott Bailey opens up about his role in romantic comedy From Zero To I Love You

Missouri-born actor Scott Bailey has been making a name for himself in the entertainment industry over the past 20 years.

With roles in Timeless, Aquarius and Ray Donovan among his credits, Scott can currently be seen as one of the leads in Doug Spearman’s new romantic comedy From Zero To I Love You. In the film Scott plays Jack Dickinson, a closeted married man who starts a relationship with a man in secret.

I spoke to Scott to find out more about the film, to discuss the way he approached the character, and to find out what his biggest challenge was while making the film…

I’ll start by saying I didn’t think I’d seen anything you’d done before this film but as soon as the Kennedy line comes up in From Zero To I Love You, I realised that I’d seen you play a Kennedy in Timeless…

When I met Doug Spearman, he had told me a couple of times that I kind of look like a Kennedy and that’s how he’d pictured for the character in the film. After discussing it, I actually went and looked up the Kennedys and I took that to heart. I started working on their accents in speeches that they had done and stuff. Soon after, I actually did get a couple of auditions to play Kennedy. One of them for a big movie, which I didn’t get, but that got me an audition for Timeless and for a show called Aquarius. On Aquarius, I played Bobby Kennedy. I guess I can credit Doug Spearman for that bit of insight because it really helped me out. When I got the audition. I already had speeches and mannerisms and dialogues and everything.

Scott Bailey
Credit: TLA Releasing

Things work out in weird ways sometimes don’t they?

Yeah, right! You’ve just got to be open. You don’t know what is gonna happen for you.

What attracted you to the role of Jack in this film?

I got fairly lucky. Doug Spearman had contacted me and he was looking to cast this film and saw me on IMDB from a friend of a friend I’d worked with. He sent me an email saying I look like his idea of the character in a film and would I be interested in reading it? I read it and I was blown away. I met with him and I read the script, and I was blown away by what a great script and what a great role it was. I feel at the time the LGBTQ community was underserved in having these great stories. I haven’t seen a story like that but I knew a lot of Jacks. There are so many Jacks but there’s not a lot of stories about Jacks. We had meetings and rehearsals and he just kept inviting me to keep rehearsing and keep working on it, and then one day we started shooting (laughs) and he kept inviting you back. I was really honoured. I really wanted that role. Once I read the script, I told him, ‘hey man, if I’m the right guy for this I would really love to play this role because it’s so multifaceted. I know so many Jacks. I think this is such a great story for people to see and I would like to bring some truth and reality if I can to it. If I’m not the guy, that’s fine but if I’m the guy, man I would give my all’. It was a really wonderful role and a great movie. I’m glad it ended up being such a happy movie because a lot of those movies end up being sad. We were thrilled that it ended up having a happy ending too.

What’s so fantastic about the character of Jack is that he’s very complex and very layered. It would have been so easy for him to be a complete cheating bastard, with no other substance, but you actually end up really caring for him. How did you get to grips with the material for Jack?

It took years to film it. We would film a section and then get more funding somehow and then come back and film another section. Over the years of filming it, not only did I learn a lot, but I grew a lot as a person as well. For instance, I learned about being a dad both on set and in real life, because I became a dad while shooting this film. I think becoming a dad and a husband and a family man really colours a lot of what’s going on in this guy who is a cheating bastard but he’s also a family man who really does love his family. Luckily you see that and understand that.

I did a film called Prayers For Bobby. This was probably 11 years ago now, but Prayers for Bobby was the story of Bobby Griffith and Mary Griffith. They were very religious and he was gay so they tried to cure him of being gay. Obviously that didn’t work and eventually he committed suicide. The fallout from that was that Mary Griffith became a huge proponent for the LGBTQ community. These characters… it’s so sad when people can’t be who they really are, be their best self, or don’t feel accepted. I don’t mean to do this lip service to it but it’s a really emotional story and an important thing. When I did that film, I really understood the gravity of it because I met so many people and I got fan mail from so many people and just talked to so many people, even people on set doing that film who were like, ‘yeah, I didn’t know how to come out. I considered suicide’. Those stories need to be told.

I take (these roles) very seriously and I think it’s really important that these these stories have some truth in them and that they’re told well, and relatable and understandable because these are really important stories to be seen and to be understood. I’m so glad that they are out there.

Scott Bailey
Credit: TLA Releasing

Jack’s love interest Peter is a very complex character too. He isn’t just the poor single gay guy who’s fallen in love with a married man. He has his own baggage and the that makes the relationship between them both so interesting…

Even with all the baggage, I looked at it like as this great love story. There are some sad moments but when get down to it it’s a love story. Doug Spearman informed it with so much reality and real life. He’s even he’s even said that he was gonna play Peter because a lot of his life stories are in Pete. Doug is this wonderful, creative, full of life actor, director and producer, and he informed all these characters and all these stories. He wrote this as a novel many, many years ago. He wrote so many versions of the script. We filmed a good half hour or 40 more minutes than are in that film. I don’t use this term loosely but it was really a passion project, for not just Doug, but for all of us. I was honoured to get to play the role and to work with Darryl and Doug. It was an honour to work with Jay Huguley, who’s a really amazing actor, and Keili Lefkovitz, who is a really great actor too. I did some stuff with Shane Johnson who has a monologue in there and he did that in one take. It was a dream experience working on this with all of them.

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My favourite scene in the movie is when Jack’s secret is found out by his wife Karla, which you know is going to happen at some point. Jack’s reaction is to accuse his wife of not helping him embrace who is really is when she admits she suspected something. I’ve never seen a scene like that play out in this way before. How hard was that to get right?

That’s not an easy scene but for us in this passion project, that is a juicy scene that we really wanted to get right. In my thinking and research, that was my angle. I didn’t approach it like, ‘Oh, he’s this jerk and he’s whatever’. I was like, ‘no, he’s been struggling with this for a long time’. From his angle he had been struggling with this forever and if she knew how, how could she not him? That’s just what honestly came up. From all the interviews that I’ve done with a lot of people I know who have similar life experiences to Jack, that is one of the things that came up is the people that didn’t help them or that knew. If it was known, why can’t we communicate about it more? Maybe we just need more movies like this out there so people can communicate about it or can be free and be their best self. That was a struggle, she she hits pretty hard.

It’s so interesting because the film doesn’t end up being what I thought it was going to be in the beginning and that’s why I loved it so much…

Oh, that’s awesome. That’s so great to hear. Doug would love that. Thank you.

Scott Bailey
Credit: TLA Releasing

You mentioned that being respectful and truthful to the character was something you were very aware of when making this film, but what would say was the most challenging thing?

Part of the allure of wanting to work on the role on the project is because it was very challenging. When I read it, I saw so many facets or peeling of the onion, as they say, and I was like, ‘wow, I’ve got to bring this justice’. I think the biggest challenge of it was that we filmed it over (a long time). The way that I work is that when I worked on this, I was thinking about it a lot. I was in the headspace of the character and I was thinking about all the things he’s thinking about. I remembered all the people I’d talked to about it and all the books I’d read about it, and the feelings. I try to put myself in the space of where I think that character is, and also in relation to the other people. I think the most challenging aspect was that we shot it over a period of time, where I’d have to delve in and become that character for a week and then turn it off for six months and come back in for another week. Turn it off for a year and come back in for a year. Each time I hoped it matched and that I got it right. I don’t have a better answer for that question. It just felt natural to tackle this because it was such an amazing script and roll.

I can see how that would be challenging…

Usually it’s a magical experience where you just delve in for anywhere from two weeks to a couple of months, and then you’re done (laughs). In this case, we did it for a week or so every six months to a year for three to five years. But it got done (laughs).

What projects do you have coming up next?

Well, it’s a very interesting time, isn’t it Pip? (laughs) There’s a joke, you know how to make God laugh? Make plans. I’ve had plans, shows that my wife and I are working on. We have a couple of shows written and I had plans to do a couple of films, but all that’s pretty much in the ‘who knows right now?’ category. I can say that I did a Stephen King, short film that’s been at theaters called In The Death Room. That’s won a bunch of awards on the film circuit. I worked on a streaming sitcom that came out in the last year called Mood Swings, written by Crystal Hunt and one of the writers of the Golden Girls, so it has that punchy comedy feel. I play the rich jerk ex-husband who’s trying to figure out how to become a human being and a dad (laughs). Aside from that, I’m working on becoming a better human being and dad every day during this quarantine. I have a four year old who’s running around and we do Daddy play time every day. We’re going to have another baby in June.

I think the very first time I met the girls (who played Jack’s kids) in From Zero To I Love You, I didn’t have any kids yet. I was learning through their father and everyone, and talking to them about being a dad and I was asking them questions. I think we were about to have a baby but I didn’t yet so I was asking these girls and they were giving me all this advice. Now I’m a dad with a little daughter and a little boy on the way and these are the things that are filling my day now. I occasionally do get a call or an audition to put on tape or something but everything is currently on hold with no real end in sight. You can you can look at that like, ‘oh my god, I’m missing out’ or you can embrace it and go, ‘wow, what a gift’. The birds outside my window have never chirped happier. The air has never been cleaner. The view’s never been better. My daughter’s never had so much playtime and I’ve never watched so much stuff on Netflix (laughs).

From Zero To I Love You is available on DVD now via TLA Releasing. Watch the trailer below:

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