He made his breakthrough in the romantic comedy In Search of a Midnight Kiss and has since gone to give memorable performances in Monsters, Killing Them Softly, Argo, 12 Years a Slave and Gone Girl. Now, Scoot McNairy gets to be part of a great cast of actors which includes Sandra Bullock, Billy Bob Thornton and Anthony Mackie in the comedy-drama Our Brand Is Crisis.
A fictionalized account of the American campaign political strategies that were used in the 2002 Bolivian presidential election, the movie co-stars McNairy as Buckley, the hot-shot advertising expert who is assigned to handle print ads and campaign spots for the seemingly unelectable Castillo (Joaquim de Almeida). Despite the fact that this is his first time ever on a political campaign, Buckley believes he can sell anybody anything they want. But while he thinks he has all the answers, it doesn’t take us long to see that he in fact does not.
We got to speak with McNairy recently at the Los Angeles press day for Our Brand Is Crisis, and he described to us how his time working in commercials informed his portrayal of Buckley, how he injected humor into the role, and much more.
Check out below, and enjoy!
I understand that you did a lot of work in commercials. How did that experience inform your character of Buckley?
Scoot McNairy: I spent some time with some ad execs and ad creatives from doing commercials for 10 years, and in no way do I feel like Buckley is like that. I think he is more a caricature of that. But it did give me that idea of him – stuff that you’d hear ad execs say or something. It would be something like, “I never even thought about that. That’s how you’re marketing this product?”
I know that ad execs think in a different way, and so that was something that I did bring to that character. Here are these different ideas about the strategy of how I can market or advertise that. I think that is hands are kind of tied behind his back by trying to do that in Bolivia, which lends itself to comedic elements of the character in the film.
I really love to the comedy that arises from your character. What was it like putting humor into Buckley?
Scoot McNairy: I love comedy. When I first started out I was doing a lot of comedy, and in the last four years I’ve really been just doing a lot of dramas. For me it was really fun to get back to that, and it couldn’t have been a better job to do it with Sandra Bullock. She’s the best at comedy. You get to see her work on set and you realize that every single take, if she wants it to be funny, she can make it funny, or she’ll come up with some sort of creative gag or something to make it funny.
She really is brilliant, and I have to say that I learned so much about comedy from being on set and watching her. So it was a lot of fun for me to go in there and play, and also I couldn’t have been luckier to work with David Gordon Green, who is someone who really allows that and allows that sense of freedom and failure. Try it, fall on your face; that’s the stuff he likes the most. In making this movie comedically, we had a lot of freedom and confidence to play with the group that we had. That comes down to Anthony, Zoe; everybody was really, really, really great.
David Gordon Green has one the most interesting resumes as a movie director.
Scoot McNairy: He really does. The guy can jump from genre to genre to genre, and he’s always making great films. That was one of the reasons I reached out to him just saying hey, I think you’re are really fascinating director and I really want to work with you. He’s really great. His process was really great and he’s really different. It’s not so different, but it’s different in regards to you really indulges on the side of exploring. We had a blast making this movie.