Robert Scott Speedman, actor (born 1 September 1975 in London, England). Scott Speedman’s laid back, boyish charm, teen idol looks and natural athleticism have led to a diverse career in action films, indie dramas, horror movies and romantic comedies. Equally convincing as a soft-spoken sweetheart or a smug, self-satisfied jerk, he has worked steadily in both film and television in Canada and the US. He is perhaps best known for his roles in the hit WB series Felicity (1998–2002) and the action-fantasy films Underworld (2003) and Underworld: Evolution (2006).
Early Years and Education
Speedman was born in London, England, to Scottish parents. When he was four years old his family moved to Toronto after his father was put in charge of the Canadian operations of the Marks & Spencer department store chain. He grew up in an athletic family (his mother, elementary school teacher Mary Campbell, was a record-setting Olympic runner) and had a promising career in competitive swimming. When he was 12 and 14, his relay team held the national record for the 400 m medley. He was a member of the Canadian Junior National Swim Team as a 1,600 m freestyle swimmer and ranked ninth in the 1992 Olympic try-outs, but a nerve injury in his neck and shoulder from overtraining prevented him from progressing any further.
From 1989 to 1994, Speedman attended the APGA program for elite athletes at North York’s Earl Haig Secondary School, where he caught the acting bug from his friends in the prominent Claude Watson Arts Program. He attended the University of Toronto for a year and swam for the school team before dropping out. He was taking acting classes and had landed a few small gigs when his girlfriend dared him to appear on MuchMusic’s Speaker’s Corner and express an interest in the role of Robin in Batman Forever (1995), which was holding auditions in Toronto. The appearance got Speedman an audition and subsequently an agent, which led to roles in such Canadian television series as Kung Fu: The Legend Continues (1995), Nancy Drew (1995) and the family-oriented horror series Goosebumps (1996), where he played opposite a young Ryan Gosling.
Television and Film Career
After several other appearances in television movies and series, Speedman studied for a short time at the prestigious Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theater in New York City before dropping out and returning to TV work in Toronto. After starring in Gary Burns’ indie slacker comedy Kitchen Party (1997), he got his big break in 1998 when he landed the role of Ben Covington in J.J. Abrams’s hit television series Felicity, opposite Keri Russell.
Speedman made his stage debut in the 2000 production of Edward Albee’s The Zoo Story at Toronto’s Equity Theatre and starred alongside Gwyneth Paltrow, Maria Bello and Paul Giamatti in Duets (2000). Several other Hollywood movies followed, including the police drama Dark Blue (2002) with Kurt Russell, the werewolf vs. vampire flicks Underworld (2003) and Underworld: Evolution (2006) with Kate Beckinsale, and the action picture xXx: State of the Union (2005) opposite Ice Cube, Samuel L. Jackson and Willem Dafoe. Speedman co-starred with Liv Tyler in the cult horror film The Strangers (2008), and played the title role opposite Dwight Yoakam and Kris Kristofferson in the western The Last Rights of Ransom Pride (2010).
Speedman continued to work just as steadily in Canadian films, including My Life Without Me (2003) opposite his fellow Earl Haig alumna Sarah Polley. He played a spaced-out Northern Ontario drug dealer in Allan Moyle’s black comedy Weirdsville (2007), and received a Genie nomination for best supporting actor for his quietly intense performance in Atom Egoyan’s Adoration (2007). Speedman co-starred with Jay Baruchel in Jacob Tierney’s Montréal-set thriller Good Neighbours (2010) and played the hedonistic Boogie opposite Paul Giamatti and Dustin Hoffman in Barney’s Version (2010), adapted from the novel by Mordecai Richler. He appeared in Mary Harron’s horror movie The Moth Diaries (2011) and played infamous Toronto bank robber Edwin Boyd in the gangster biopic Edwin Boyd: Citizen Gangster (2011), which earned him a Genie nomination for best lead actor.
After appearing as a quintessential smug jerk opposite Rachel McAdams in The Vow (2012), Speedman returned to the small screen as a thoughtful naval officer in the short-lived ABC mystery series Last Resort (2012–13). He starred in three films set to be released in 2014: the Atom Egoyan thriller The Captive with Ryan Reynolds; the romantic comedy-drama Barefoot with Evan Rachel Wood; and the horror-thriller Out of the Dark with Julia Stiles.