Monday night TNT premieres their new drama Men of a Certain Age, which stars Scott Bakula as one of three old friends dealing with middle age. In an exclusive interview, Bakula talked to TrekMovie about the show, working with Matt Damon in The Informant! along with what he would have liked to have done with Archer on Enterprise and how he would be interested in appearing in JJ Abrams next Star Trek movie.
INTERVIEW: Scott Bakula
Scott talks "Men of a Certain Age" and "The Informant!"
TrekMovie: In Men of a Certain Age you are playing an actor, of a certain age, is there any Scott in Terry?
Scott Bakula: Very little. He is so opposite of me. He is such a non-committal guy. He is against relationships, he is free-wheeling. He is very happy to not be in a relationship and doesn’t have a great relationship with himself. He is a little distracted by life, and he is not looking in the mirror very clearly and seeing where he is. I am not really like that guy. I know people like him. I can certainly relate to being a struggling actor, but it was at a much younger age. It is a blast to play someone like it, because it is fun to play someone that you are not like and you can go to places and say things that wouldn’t normally do.
TrekMovie: In the pilot, your character has a bit of a humbling experience going to a cattle-call type of casting experience. After Enterprise I spoke to John Billingsley and he told me that after four years on the show, he ended up having to go to a lot of auditions and re-introducing himself to casting directors. Did you feel any of that after you were doing Enterprise for four years?
Scott Bakula: I think there is a little bit of "you’ve been away" for a little while. Our business has changed so much, that for a certain level of actor, if you are George Clooney or Matt Damon, you don’t have this issue of re-introducing yourself. But the players change so much in the business now and the turnover is so great, that there are people that are new and in four years a lot changes. I have no problem going in and meeting people. That’s just what happens. Our business doesn’t work like most businesses where you get a reputation and you build on that. You kind of start from square one in almost every job.
TrekMovie: Would you call that ‘sisyphean?’ [Bakula’s character gets called out for pretension for using the term ‘sisyphean‘ in the pilot for Men of a Certain Age]
Scott Bakula: [laughs] Yeah! But then there are times, like for instance when I got a phone call for The Informant! and they say "you are in the movie" and you feel like you haven’t heard them correctly.
TrekMovie: It was that simple.
Scott Bakula: There was a lot of work going on behind the scenes that I wasn’t aware of, but Steven [Soderbergh]’s producer Greg Jacobs and I have known each other for years through our kids, but we never worked together. He called my agent and said "there was a part in the movie that would be good, but we have to through Steven and Warner Brothers and all this stuff so let’s not tell Scott yet". So our friendship wouldn’t’ be jeopardized. So I got a call from my agent who said I was in the new movie with Matt Damon and I had to call back ten minutes later saying "did you say I am in the movie and don’t have to read or anything, I am actually in the movie?"
TrekMovie: Does that kind of take away the fun of struggling for the job?
Scott Bakula: Oh no, there is no fun in struggling for the job. Sometimes you look back and it seems fun, but it is never fun when you are struggling for the job. There is nothing nice about auditioning, nothing. It sucks.
TrekMovie: On The Informant!, that was a different kind of project for you. It was Steven Soderbergh and Matt Damon, a true story, but kind of quirky. What was it like for you?
Scott Bakula: It was really interesting. Even though it was based on real-life characters and we got to meet them, Steven didn’t want us to copy them, he didn’t want me to get to know my guy personally and get into his idiosyncrasies. He really wanted the movie to have his spin, his quirky comedic spin. In hindsight, when you look back at the story of this character that Matt played, it was bizarre and stranger than fiction, and really unbelievable, but true. So Steven said, don’t do any research. Even though I was an FBI agent I didn’t go and learn how to use a gun and correct procedures or anything like that. It was really about these characters and how they dealt with this guy that nobody could figure out.
Matt was hysterical 24/7. And the movie was populated with stand-up comedians, so that was a whole other kind of experience. They are all funny guys cracking jokes and with five of them in a room together it was ridiculous. We had such a great time. And Steven works so fast, he knows right what he wants. We had a ball.
Bakula with Joel McHale and Matt Damon in "The Informant!"
TrekMovie: Back to Men of a Certain Age. The show is much more serious than I would have guessed. I had figured it was created by Ray Romano, I thought it was going to lean more to the comedy for a ‘dramedy’, but it deals with some serious issues. Is that how the show the show will continue, how will you guys strike the balance?
Scott Bakula: Ray is known for being a stand-up and for Everybody Loves Raymond, and he really wanted to go in a different direction when he coming back to television. He was the top guy on television for many years, so how do you follow that? He didn’t want to come back and do another straight comedy. It came from inside his head and Mike Royce’s head. It grew out of when he ended Raymond and suddenly nine years had gone by and his kinds had grown up and he was kind of this huge entity but out of a job, what was he do next? He didn’t have to do anything, but it offered him some kind of perspective on himself and out of it came this show. Given his druthers, it would have even less comedy in it than it does. I think it is going to show Ray in a great light. He is very vulnerable–yes very funny at times–but also it shows people what a really good actor he is.
TrekMovie: You, Ray and Andre [Braugher] seem to have a really good chemistry. Did you know each other or spend much time together before shooting?
Scott Bakula: No. We never met each other. I met Ray when I got the script. He wanted to meet Andre and myself to see how he felt about us, that was the extent of the chemistry work. We read some scenes together and it went to the network and the next thing I was hired. You can’t put a finger on it, there is a feeling that these guys are buddies and it seems to work. I am happy about that, that is always the fear that these guys are playing friends but don’t seem like friends.
Ray Romano, Andre Braugher and Scott Bakula, the three buddies at the heart of "Men of a Certain Age"
Bakula wants to beat Shatner – wanted to explore more of Archer
TrekMovie: Lets switch to some Star Trek stuff. Assuming you saw the new movie, how did you feel about the reference to Admiral Archer?
Scott Bakula: It went by so fast and there was so much going on that I almost didn’t think that I had heard it, because it was the dog reference and I was like "did I just hear that?" My two sons, they were all caught up and they didn’t care about my backstory, so when I asked them if they heard it, they didn’t remember it. So I had to confirm it with other people. I thought it was very clever. I thought JJ Abrams did a great job with the movie and everybody was great and it was a huge success for the studio.
TrekMovie: I talked to Bob Orci, who co-wrote the movie, and he told me that in his mind that reference was to your character, who was still alive at that time.
Scott Bakula: I really appreciate that. Maybe I will get in the next one. All I want to do is beat Shatner out for being in the next one.
Bakula wasn’t sure at first if he heard Scotty correctly, when referring to his character as ‘Admiral Archer’ in "Star Trek"
TrekMovie: In regards to Enterprise, in Hollywood for an actor being on a series for four years is pretty good.
Scott Bakula: Absolutely.
TrekMovie: But some people see that as it only did four years instead of seven. That being said, if Enterprise had gone three more years, what would you have liked to have done as an actor for a challenge with your character?
Scott Bakula: I think everything that happened to Archer in the first four years was about expanding his–his life experiences were limited by growing up in the system, and yet he had this incredible imagination and incredible believe in the possibilities. His character was hampered by that, because he was such an insider and such a company guy because of his father, there was a lot of breaking down that needed to go along with his taking over of the ship, which seemed natural and correct. But as he kept experiencing the possibilities and dealing with the formation of the Federation–that is where we were going, obviously–and contributing to that, and creating that politically and creating all the different factions and everything. I thought that was great. And as a human being, what we could have done with him in terms of opening his eyes more and lightening him up and different things that I thought were all elements of his character that I hoped we would have the time to explore and
Bakula would have liked to explore Archer’s arc and the formation of the Federation
Men of a Certain Age premiers Monday night on TNT at 10PM. More info at the official site. Here are some clips:
Get to know Terry (Scott’s character)
Behind the Scenes with Scott