McNairy: ‘Softly’ star gets chance to shine

10 Actors to Watch 2012: Scoot McNairy

To land the role of Frankie in TWC’s fall mob pic “Killing Them Softly,” Scoot McNairy got some help from a persistent illness to pull off the croaking two-bit gangster.

“I wanted Frankie to sound like he was sick, very malnourished and unhealthy. I kind of found the voice because I had the flu the first time I went in to read for (director Andrew Dominik) and the second time I came in to read I had a cold from being in Utah. Those two things just worked to my advantage,” says McNairy, who stars with Brad Pitt, James Gandolfini and Richard Jenkins in the pic.

With the hope of guiding his first-impression jitters into a tense onscreen pas de deux, McNairy elected not to run lines with Pitt before they meet onscreen. In the film, Pitt’s character uses naive Frankie to pull off a series of bounty hits as penance for ripping off a criminal poker game.

“There needed to absolutely be no chemistry with me and Brad, so that is why I decided not to meet him,” he says. “I wanted to take the nervous energy you have meeting someone for the first time. You have to take that newness and incorporate it into the scene.”

McNairy will reunite with Pitt in Steve McQueen’s period drama “Twelve Years a Slave” and can be seen alongside Ben Affleck in the actor-director’s “Argo,” which received strong reviews when it unspooled at the Toronto Film Festival.

The thesp first came to Hollywood to become a cinematographer but found acting roles instead.

After studios initially passed him over, McNairy stepped into producing to land meatier roles, subsequently starring in and producing the L.A.-set indie “In Search of a Midnight Kiss.”

The multihyphenate is currently writing and developing a Southern-themed pic as a vehicle to star in and direct. He describes the project as a cross between “Winter’s Bone” and “Midnight Cowboy.”

He is also producing two films, a feature based on doc “Frank and Cindy” and a follow-up to his turn as Andrew Kaulder in “Monsters.”

Lucky break: “It was a slow break over the course of 10 years. I don’t think it’s about one job or anything. It’s just persistence. I can’t tell you how many times people said, ‘No,’ ‘Get out of my office, ‘You’re awful’ or ‘You shouldn’t be doing this.'”

Career I would like to emulate: Gary Oldman. “He’s had such a great career, especially in the last five years. He is a good friend of mine as well.”

Favorite Film: “Everything from ‘The Diving Bell and the Butterfly’ to Michael Mann’s ‘Heat.'”

More Scene

  • Marianne Rendon, Matt Smith, Ondi Timoner

    Robert Mapplethorpe Biopic Team Talks 'Fast and Furious' Filming

    Thursday night’s New York premiere of the Matt Smith-led biopic “Mapplethorpe” took place at Cinépolis Chelsea, just steps from the Chelsea Hotel where the late photographer Robert Mapplethorpe once lived — but director Ondi Timoner had no sense of that legacy when she first encountered him in a very different context. “When I was ten [...]

  • Producer Mel Jones poses at the

    'Dear White People' Producer Talks Hollywood's 'Black Tax'

    “Dear White People” and “Leimert Park” executive producer Mel Jones is extremely familiar with growing up and watching “white men in all types of roles and never [seeing] ourselves as a part of those narratives.” Now, there may be some more opportunities for writers of color to tell their own stories, but, she notes, there [...]

  • Rebel Wilson Isn't It Romantic

    Rebel Wilson on Twitter Gaffe: 'It Was Purely to Lift My Fellow Plus-Size Women Up'

    “I obviously misspoke in that situation,” Rebel Wilson told Variety at the premiere of her latest film “Isn’t It Romantic” Monday, acknowledging the gaffe in which she claimed to be the first-ever plus-sized woman to star in a romantic comedy during an October appearance on “Ellen.” Following the comment, Wilson was met with criticism from Twitter [...]


    How Lena Waithe Convinced Halle Berry to Team Up for 'Boomerang' TV Series

    Halle Berry wasn’t immediately sold on the idea of a “Boomerang” reboot. The 1992 romantic comedy, which starred Berry, Eddie Murphy, and Robin Givens, told the tale of cocky ad executive and insatiable ladies’ man Marcus (Murphy) who meets his match in his new boss Jacqueline (Givens) — an exec who treats him the same [...]

  • Rebel Wilson and Miley Cyrus'Isn't it

    Why Liam Hemsworth Wasn't at His 'Isn't It Romantic' Premiere, but Wife Miley Cyrus Was

    Liam Hemsworth had every intention of bringing his wife, Miley Cyrus, to Monday’s premiere of his new romantic comedy “Isn’t It Romantic.” However, the Aussie actor was forced to skip the evening because of some “health things.” That didn’t stop Cyrus from attended the red carpet shindig at the Theater at the Ace Hotel in downtown [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content