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SPECTRE: Andrew Scott Profile – political schemer or villainous traitor?

Immediately after Sam Mendes had announced the cast members of the new Bond film ‘SPECTRE’ on December 4th, Andrew Scott was widely perceived as an intriguing choice for a role in the upcoming film. 
Not an unfamiliar face in British television, and most certainly well known to “Sherlockians” around the world as the modern day mastermind and Holmes nemesis Professor Moriarty, there is something about the casting of Scott that made Bond Fans speculate from the very moment he took his place among the other cast members on the stage at the Pinewood press event: will his character turn out to be good or bad?

Andrew Scott was born on October 21, 1976 in Churchtown, Dublin, Ireland. His parents worked as a state school teacher and an employment manager in the public sector. Scott attended Gonzaga College, a private Jesuit Catholic school on the south side of Dublin, took Saturday classes at a drama school for children, and appeared in two ads on Irish television. 

At the age of seventeen Scott was chosen for a starring role in his first film, Korea. He dropped out of his drama degree at Trinity College, Dublin to join Dublin’s Abbey Theatre and once stated to the London evening standard magazine that he always had a “healthy obsession” with acting. After filming a small part in Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan, Scott worked with film and theater director Karel Reisz in a Gate Theatre, Dublin, production of Long Day’s Journey Into Night taking the role of Edmund, the younger son, in the Eugene O’Neill play about a tortured American family in the early part of the 20th century. He won Actor of the Year at the Independent/Spirit of Life Awards and received an Irish Times Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. 


Andrew Scott in the studio

Scott appeared in the small part of Michael Blodgett in the film Nora, with Ewan McGregor, and in a television adaptation of Henry James’s The American, alongside Diana Rigg and Matthew Modine, before making his London theatre debut in Conor McPherson’s Dublin Carol with Brian Cox at the Royal Court Theatre. He was then cast in the BAFTA winning drama Longitude, opposite Michael Gambon, and the multi-award winning HBO miniseries Band of Brothers. In 2004 he was named one of European Film Promotions’ Shooting Stars and after starring in My Life in Film for the BBC, he received his first Olivier award for his role in ‘A Girl in a Car with a Man’ at The Royal Court, and the Theatregoers’ Choice Award for his performance in the National Theatre’s ‘Aristocrats’. He then created the roles of the twin brothers in the original Royal Court production of Christopher Shinn’s ‘Dying City’, which was later nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. In 2006, he made his Broadway debut opposite Julianne Moore and Bill Nighy in the Music Box Theater production of The Vertical Hour written by David Hare and directed by Sam Mendes, for which he was nominated for a Drama League Award. 

Scott as Professor Moriarty in ‘SHERLOCK’

Scott is most well known for portraying Sherlock Holmes’ nemesis Moriarty in the BBC drama Sherlock for which he won a BAFTA in 2012 for Best Supporting Actor as well as the IFTA, the Irish television award for Best Supporting Actor in 2013. In addition to his stage and TV work, Scott is also known for his voice acting in radio plays and audio books, such as the roles of Jay Gatsby in Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and Stephen Dedalus in James Joyce’s Ulysses. Most recently Scott took to the stage in Birdland, written by Simon Stephens and directed by Carrie Cracknell at the Royal Court Theatre, playing the central character of Paul, a rock star at the pinnacle of his career on the verge of a breakdown. Scott received positive reviews for the performance, with comments such as ‘beautifully played’ and [he] ‘ pulls off the brilliant trick of being totally dead behind the eyes and fascinating at the same time, an appalling creature who’s both totem and symptom’. Beside 11 TV series and 23 stage credits, Scott has appeared in a total of 19 films, ‘SPECTRE’ will be his 20th.

Andrew Scott grew up in Dublin, Ireland with an older and a younger sister, Sarah and Hannah. Scott is gay, and has commented that “mercifully, these days people don’t see being gay as a character flaw. But nor is it a virtue, like kindness. Or a talent, like playing the banjo. It’s just a fact. Of course, it’s part of my make-up, but I don’t want to trade on it.” He has lived in London for the past decade with his partner, who is “sort of” in the business. “And that’s all you’re getting.” He clams up. “It sounds maybe a little old fashioned, but the parts I want to play and I do play, you don’t want to inject too much of your own personality. What you sacrifice then is a slight mystery.”

Having worked with Sam Mendes before doesn´t necessarily land you a role in his films, but in the case of Andrew Scott and the way in which he uses his talent, it could actually have been just like that. Without thinking too much about wether his character “Denbigh” is good or bad in ‘SPECTRE’, Scott definitely has the ability to pull off both or even form a combination of the two. The clever minds of Bond Fans really began to do somersaults right after director Sam Mendes had introduced Scott as the new addition to the “Whitehall Family” which also includes “Moneypenny” (played by Naomie Harris), “Tanner” (played by Rory Kinnear), “Q” (played by Ben Wishaw) and of course “M” (played by Ralph Fiennes). Rather than standing on the left side of the stage where the “MI6” staff had assembled, Scott positioned himself on the right, facing the floor and grinning. Let´s just leave that thought there.

Scott as Moriarty opposite Benedict Cumberbatch in ‘SHERLOCK’

The ‘SPECTRE’ plot details revealed to us on December 4th, state that Bonds boss “M” […] battles political forces to keep the secret service alive […]. This could mean a whole number of things but in the aspect of Andrew Scotts recent fame as evil mastermind Moriarty, we could well see a political schemer or even a villainous traitor within the ranks of the British government or MI6 itself. This has happened before when “Miranda Frost” (played by Rosamund Pike) betrayed Bond and MI6 in 2002s ‘DIE ANOTHER DAY’ and, to some extent, “Vesper Lynd” (played by Eva Green) in 2006s ‘CASINO ROYALE’. 

When you have watched ‘SHERLOCK’ (if not, I personally advise you to do so), there is no way to not appreciate Scotts incredible ability to revive Moriarty and give him a slick but wonderfully wicked and twisted makeover for modern audiences. His performance makes you love and detest the character at the same time, constantly switching from one to the other which is a skill that not many actors can transport to the audience. Nothing less than a brilliant performance can be expected of Scott – no matter if his character is good or bad.

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