Scott Patterson

Scott Patterson

Can't Trust Happiness

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The Mike Brady Clause has been conquered.

As Faithful Readers of this site know, the Mike Brady Clause has been the bane of many potential TV Single Dad shows. Briefly stated, the Mike Brady Clause requires that "The TV Single Dad must be single for the majority of the run of the series." That simple rule has kept TV Dads of the likes of Tom Bradford on Eight is Enough and Ned Flanders of The Simpsons from achieving the pantheon of TV Single Dadness.

The moratorium ends, though, with the November, 2002 triumph of The WB's Gilmore Girls, ostensibly a show about a TV Single Mom. The would-be romantic lead for the series, however, is a single guardian of his own nephew, established in the middle of the show's first season. The character of Luke Danes, played by Scott Patterson, became a TV Single Dad for the majority of the run of the series the week before Thanksgiving.

Scott was quite willing to discuss all of this, so let's get to the part where

The Interview Begins

I get a lot of emails in when I post up who I'm going to be interviewing next. It's a mailbag, and I've gotten a lot of questions from different viewers. They're kinda scattered, so if they seem not connected, it's just that...

Scott - What are the majority writing in? What age group?

It varies: there's some teenagers, and then there's some women in their 30's and 40's...

Scott - it's mostly women?

Yes, mostly women.

Scott - Gotcha. Okay.

Okay, here's the first email... This is one of many, but "Gwen from NY" wrote in with 'I have no questions for Scott but tell him he's GREAT!'... So, "you're great, Scott."

Scott - Okay! All right!

Good, just wanted to get that one out of the way. Okay, "Cokie" writes, "Do you still do your own laundry?"

Scott - Uh, no. [laughs] No, I don't. I have a maid.

That's great. That's a good level of success.

Scott - Oh yeah! [laughs]

Next one: "Was the hat your idea?"

Scott - No, that's from [producer/creator] Amy [Sherman-Palladino].

Okay, next: "Did you ever have your own baseball card?"

Scott - Yes.

Do you remember the first time you saw it?

Scott - The first - - well, I had a bunch of them in the minor leagues. I think the only major-league card I might have had was with Texas.

Hmm. Did you ever play for the '89ers?

Scott - No. Oklahoma City?

Right- -

Scott - No, actually we played - - when I was with the Rangers, -- I broke camp with the Rangers, but we went to OK city and played with the 89ers, because that was their AAA affiliate. But after the game, they told me they were selling me back to the Yankees.


Scott - Yeah, so that was my one experience in Okie City.

Photo © 2002 The WB Television Network.Amy Sherman-Palladino, who
created Gilmore Girls and gave
Scott the part.

Okay, "You have three sisters. Do any of them give you acting advice?"

Scott - Actually, yes. Actually, one of them does. She's a very perceptive, very intelligent, very artistic person, and she will call and give me a critique of my performance.

Wow. And you get this after every show?

Scott - Every show - - the next day, she'll call and say, "hey, let's talk!" [laughs]

Great - - you have a coach!

Scott - Yeah, well - - she sees things that I don't see, because I don't get to see the show very often. You know, they send it to me on tape, but sometimes I don't get to see it. Yeah, she's always got really constructive comments. She's terrific, yeah.

Here's one: "which episode did you hate doing the most?"

Scott - Hmm - which episode did I hate doing the most? Well, I have to preface this comment with the following: I don't hate doing any of them. I love doing them...


Scott - But the one that was the most-- strenuous - - - involved many, many days inside Miss Patty's Dance Studio, where we do the town meetings.


Scott - and it gets very hot in there. And I have to be wearing that Army jacket, and thermals, and a flannel shirt underneath - - so it gets so hot, you pass out. So, I think it was the second season - I can't remember the episode name or number, but I just remember sweating a lot! [laughs]

"What is the strangest thing you've ever had to autograph?"

Scott - Hmm - well, what do you think?

I - I think we'll just leave that to the viewers' imagination.

Scott - [Laughs]

Okay - "With the amount of script pages on your show, do you ever have to resort to cue cards sometimes?"

Scott - No.

Allright - - "Growing up in Haddonfield, NJ - do remember watching any TV Single Dad shows as a kid?"

Scott - Hmm - "Courtship of Eddie's Father."

Yep, that seems to be the number one show that most people remember. Do you key any of your performances off the TV Single Dads that you saw as a kid?

Scott - No.

My Favorite Nephew

"What was the planning like for the character Milo plays? Was it done from the start?" - I guess, was he considered as part of the story arc when you first began the series?

Scott - I don't know. I think they wanted to see how my character was going to play out. And as my character was working out, chemistry-wise and plotline-wise, and it grew in prominence, then I think they wanted to give me more to do, and to give Rory more to do. So, bringing the nephew in served - - it was a multi-- it served multi-functions.

Photo © 2002 The WB Television Network.Luke's nephew Jess, played by
Milo Ventimiglia.

Right, it really opened up the plotlines.

Scott - Yeah, it really helped out a great deal with plots and storylines. It created a lot of tension that otherwise wouldn't have been there, so -- I'm sure Amy planned it from the beginning. She just doesn't - - you know, she keeps everything close to the vest. As she should.

Do you have any input into your character's development? I mean, do you discuss things with her? Things that you might notice in the -- while you're developing a scene, that you think might add to it?

Scott - [sighs] I mean, I have - - - I have had discussions, but I trust her implicitly. I don't really question her. She's thought it out, beforehand, and -- no, I have to admit I don't - - but of course, there have been, on the set, when she's directing an episode of course, little things here and there. But that character came fully-formed.

You don't have a chance to improv, I would imagine.

Scott - Improv? Oh, no. Oh, no. I mean, if you miss a period, they do another take. If you say "the" instead of "and," they do another take. You don't - - you know, the writer is GOD. As well it should be. You don't flub a comma, or a pause, or a word. So, that's no improv on there. No, no, no.

Who's the best at 'One-Take' - not blowing a line?

Scott - [laughs] Who's the best at it? Oh, we all blow lines. I think we're all guilty of that. I don't think anybody - - it's not realistic, at the pace we're required to go, with all the dialog, somebody always blows a line. But we do manage to get through it.

You're on a nine-day schedule?

Scott - Eight.

Eight-day schedule. And you're getting your scripts like, the week before?

Scott - No, we're usually getting them the day of the first shooting schedule, or the day before. We don't really get a chance to see them before we start shooting.

So it's really like 'survival acting' - - you've got so much to pack in.

Scott - Yeah, yeah.

Are you coming up on hiatus now? Are you finished shooting for the fall now?

Scott - Oh, no. Right now, we're shooting episode eleven, and we'll take a long weekend break at Thanksgiving. Then, our Christmas vacation comes on the 22nd. Of December. And then we go through January 4th and we're back at it for the last eight or nine episodes.

The most frequently-received question I've gotten in the mailbag...

Scott - [laughs]

... is the one that I'm sure you get, and that's "when are Luke and Lorelai getting together?" But, isn't that like Gilligan getting off the Island?

Scott - Yeah, that's pretty much what it's like, isn't it? I hope it doesn't happen any time soon. They don't tell me anything: I have no idea. All I know is that I'm going to be "jealous" for a while.


Scott - That's all I know, so - - I think the show really benefits from the tension. And an audience thinks they want something, but once they get it, they tend to turn away from it. So, I'm sure Amy - - if she does get us together - prematurely, in my estimation - she'll do it in such a way that it'll be compelling, and then she'll break us up and bring us back together when it's -- you know, in a higher dramatic moment. When it has the most impact, dramatically.


Scott - And she'll know when it's right to do it.

Photo © 2002 The WB Television Network. If these two ever get together, it's curtains, baby...

Are you worried about being Luke forever? I mean, if the show goes seven years, and you're on TVLand sometime in the 2010's -- you know, you're always going to be Luke. Do you feel the part will lock you out of something?

Scott - Well, I don't know. I mean, it's hard for me to be objective. I don't know what the perception out there is. I mean, I know people come up to me and they seem to be responding to the show, and the character and all that. I mean, in your estimation, is it that strong of a character, where, you know, a person could be identified with it *for life*?

I don't know. You've been an alien [in "AlienNation"] and things like that, but I would assume they'd find something in another range for you to be in. If you go to another part, you'll adopt that role. Robert Young was in Father Knows Best, and then he was Marcus Welby.

Scott - Right. Look, if I'm Luke forever, well, that's fine with me. I was scrounging around, doing odd jobs, trying to pay the rent...

...and now you've got a maid!

Scott - Yeah, we're - - I mean, we've all gotten very lucky. We've hit the lottery here, and it's beyond our wildest expectations. We're on probably the best-written show on television, with the most critical acclaim. Now, we're scoring really big numbers, ratings-wise. I mean, it couldn't be a better situation. This is the kind of thing we were holding out for - - if we were going to do television, we were going to do quality television. We just didn't know it was going to be *this* good! [laughs]

When you first booked the show, when you did the reading and all that - where were you when you got the call, and what did you do immediately after that?

Scott - It was the second audition of the day... I had three, I was late for the third one. I didn't prepare the second scene: I had only prepared one, because I thought there was only one scene. There was a typo on the second scene, the character had a different name. And -- the meeting went really well, but I had been giving great readings for two years and I wasn't booking anything, so it was just another --- thing -- that I wasn't going to get. I really didn't care anymore. You know what I mean?


Scott - I kinda had the dumb courage of the Truly Burned-Out Actor. Which is what you need - -- so, I was really just being myself, and not putting on any kind of a facade. And it just worked. They were the right people, I responded to them. I felt like I was in the room with the right people finally. They got me, I got them. And then I went to the other audition and I got home, and I checked my messages and I got the job!


Scott - And I was stunned. I think the first person I called was my mom. We didn't know what it meant at the time, but I had a feeling it was something big because the script was so good. The pilot script was of such quality that - - you don't really see that come along very often, during a pilot season. I just thought that - when I read it - I thought, okay, they were going to go for a bunch of names - movie actors whose careers are on the wane. You know, they're going to get some real quality people that - - there's not a chance that - - I was shocked. They told me that they stopped seeing people after they saw me.


Scott - So, I had the job immediately, and I was just absolutely stunned.

Now, after that all clicked in, and you had a couple of episodes in the can, and then it appeared on TV and became this phenomenon - - do you have a "first recognition" story? I mean, when you're on the street and somebody comes up and says, "hey! it's Luke!"

Scott - Let me see - first recognition story... Well, they had been spotting me for the Seinfield episode, for quite a while.

Right, "Mr. Sponge-Worthy"...

Scott - Yeah, kind of infrequently. Or on other things I'd done, people would say, "are you that guy on the thing?" I don't know about the first one, but the funniest one, I think, was during the first season. Towards the end of the first season, I was helping a cab driver out of his cab after a car accident -- early-morning rush hour traffic, I was on the way to the studio, and a very big guy -- and I was helping him and there was a lot of traffic, and somebody drove by and said, "Hey Luke! When are you going to marry Lorelai?" And I'm standing there with this huge, huge cab driver who was woozy, you know, and I was just trying to get him to the side of the road.

I guess you've got 16-hour days, and you generally don't have time to watch TV. When you do watch TV, do you have any particular things that you watch?

Scott - The only things that I watch are the financial channels. I like to watch [CNBC's] Ron Insana, Maria Bartiromo -- I like Louis Rukeyser... what else do I like? I like - I love Kudlow & Cramer. I just think it's entertaining as hell. I think Jim Cramer is just hysterical. And they're both really smart and really kind of, you know, they have great guests. I never had money before, so now I have to find out where to put it. And I have a guy that does that brilliantly, but I want to *know* -- it's my new obsession - understanding how money works. What is going on with all of these issues and what's happening today. So, those are the things I watch. I'm a news junkie, so I read The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times and - - politics and investing, I'm fascinated with it.

Photo © 2002 CNBC.If Scott Patterson were a Neilsen
Family, this guy would top the
ratings (Jim Cramer of CNBC)

You've lived as a struggling actor for years and years, and it was one gig to the next, and now that you're financially stable, is it difficult to grow accustomed to that lifestyle? That you're suddenly, "well, I don't have to worry about that part," or do you worry more now?

Scott - I worry more. It's a big responsibility, because -- and I've heard this from a very good friend of mine who became wealthy, that the first thing that happens is: "your friends take one step back, and your acquaintances take one step forward." And that's exactly what has happened. Yeah, it's a strange - - burden. It's a good one, but it's definitely got responsibility written all over it.

Has it changed your relationships with people a lot, then?

Scott - Absolutely. Absolutely. Some for the better and some for the worse. I guess you really find out who was rooting for you, and who was just pretending.

I have a note here from "Marni in Kansas" --- "I saw on the WB website that you write music. What types of music do you write, and what inspires you?"

Scott - Well, I -- I do. I don't write a lot of music anymore, but I went through a phase where I was thinking about it as a career, actually. Like, from about '95 to '99 - - I probably had written about 500-600 songs in that period. And none of them are any good - - maybe two are good, but I was just looking for that one song that I could perform, and maybe get a record deal. You know, every actor in Hollywood who's out-of-work is writing songs.[laughs]

You want your "American Pie"...

Scott - Yeah -- [laughs] *everybody* is writing songs out here. I was playing out in clubs on Open Mike Nights, and failing, and then sometimes I'd improve a little bit. But what inspired me then was - - and I hadn't discovered them: I was aware of them but I hadn't discovered Pearl Jam until about 1994. And I started really listening to them, and I thought, "this is really extraordinarily good stuff," because I thought the singer was a very literate guy, and it wasn't just, "hey, let's be famous rock stars and sleep with girls." It was, to me, -- it reminded me of something from the sixties, where, you know, they actually did inspire some changes, and some dialog with government agencies, and there were actual protests, and people were killed. And this guy was harkening back to those days. I just thought it was extraordinary.

Photo © 2000 Pearl JamEddie Vedder, Scott's inspiration.

So, I guess you be into bands like U2 and things like that?

Scott - Yeah. They were a little different for me. I mean, I just strongly identified with that band. And I tried to emulate them. I wasn't trying to copy them, but I -- if I could write a song this intimate and this feeling, and this poetic, and this smart - - I would be a happy man. Because a lot of their folk-ballad stuff is quite extraordinary.

Are you still involved in creating music? I mean, you don't seem to have a lot of free time, but when you do get free moments, do you still compose?

Scott - No. No. I just have so much stuff that I'm not - - and I'm kind of an obsessive-compulsive type person. When I do it, I do it 100%. So now it's the time for the show.


Scott - I picked up the guitar the other night for the first time in three years, and I wrote a little song, and I put it away. And I thought, you know, I've got to avoid that. I can't balance it.

It pulls you away from what you're trying to get done.

Scott - Yeah, I would change as a person, and -- I would need a year off from the show before I could write music again, because it's such a committment. It takes so much out of you.

What do you do on your hiatuses? Do you plan on theatrical movies, or do you try other things? Or do you just completely break and say, "I need to get away from all this?"

Scott - Well, a lot really hasn't come my way, movie-wise, that I would want to do. Given the quality of the show, I would want to do a film that is of equal, if not better, quality - - if you could even find that. So I have chosen to kind of avoid payday during the hiatus for a cheesy movie, and take it easy. I travel. I'm a big skier, so I hunt out summer skiing, actually, in New Zealand. And in the wintertime, I go crazy. Every weekend, I'm flying off somewhere for snow.

So, having this job gives you that opportunity now. I guess it's better to be a skier with money than a skier with no money.

Scott - Well, it gives me - - it's the only thing that I really splurge on. I'm not a big, you know - - I don't think this Gilmore thing is gonna last forever. So I want to sort of -- act accordingly. I'm not going to go out and, you know, spend all the money on a huge house and cars, and the whole...

Right, just to watch it all go away if something happened later on...

Scott - Yeah, I just don't think that's wise, at this point. So, yeah, the only luxury I afford myself is the ski trips. And they're pretty good ones.

Not Scott's dogNote: This is not Scott Patterson's dog.

Okay I have another note here: "Do you own a dog? What's the dog's name and does he wear a bandana?"

Scott - I don't...[laughs]

Yep, well, people have whole other lives going on in their heads when they write me?

Scott - "How did they know?" [laughs] It's amazing! No, I don't own a dog.

Okay - no pets at all, I guess?

Scott - No.

So that was the interview. Scott recorded a nice ID for the site (which you can hear by clicking here).

I felt bad that Scott was feeling isolated from the world, now that he's a critical and financial success. I hope he'll get a chance to become acclimated to his new circumstances. The ratings for his series certainly give the impression that he's going to have a lot of time to get used to his new lifestyle.