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QUESTION: So in New York you got involved in theater. And you're pretty successful. What makes you decide to go to L.A.?

SCOTT BAKULA: I went to L.A. because I had agents that I had for a very long time, Maggie Henderson, who is no longer with us, and Jerry Hogan. Maggie was out here in L.A. and Jerry was in New York and every year Maggie would come, she would make her pilgrimage to New York to see who is in the New York office and who was maybe somebody that could work in L.A. She would come out and I'd sit down with her and she'd say, "Don't come to L.A. unless you have something to do, you have a piece of theater to do, if you've got an offer, if you have something, because L.A. will eat you up, it's really hard to stay focused, it's hard to stay in the business, it's an entirely different industry out in L.A.," which I didn't know anything about then. So I just took her word for it and never went.

And finally I got — I did a musical out here called Nightclub Confidential. Started in New York then came out to L.A. So I call her up and said I got a show, I'm gonna be out there, I'm coming out in January. so it'll work out because it's time for pilot season and I'll be doing something so people can come and see me. I'd been in a very popular show in New York the season before that everybody knew about on both coasts, Three Guys Naked From the Waist Down, so I had a little bit of whatever. And then I coincidentally had done a Disney Sunday Night ABC movie that was gonna come out some time in the winter. It was the time to go. Came out here on New Year's Day, 1986. The show I did turned out to be a big hit out here. It got me a lot of attention out here and I jumped onto Designing Women in the beginning and was able to do that pilot, a couple of recurring on that and things kind of took off. But I waited and waited and waited to come out and it just, it happened that I got this show.

QUESTION: How about some of the obstacles you faced. You did a couple of pilots and the short-lived series Gung Ho and Eisenhower & Lutz. How did coming out and trying new things that ultimately weren't successful feel? Did you ever think about going back?

SCOTT BAKULA: Well, I was a little bit like a kid in a candy store. I think when people come out of New York the first thing that happens besides just the fact that you're in California, which is so stunningly different from New York, and the weather is unbelievable and I'm an outdoor person, so I was — it was wonderful to get used to the weather out here! The next thing was, the money is so much more when than when you would work in New York. And I had done Broadway in New York and I had done commercials in New York and Off-Broadway in New York and traveled around the country. There was just no comparison financially to what you could do. So even with some things that I did that weren't successful, still the money end of it was kind of astonishing to me. And I kept getting reinforced because I had done another job or people that I worked with were very positive in terms of what my future might hold.

So I continued to be encouraged. I didn't come out and sit for a year or have, like, my one shot and it not work,and then sit for a year, thinking, Oh my gosh, this is never going to happen for me. Because I came out in '86 and I did a bunch of things between 1986 and 1988, and then I left during the writers' strike and went back to New York and did a Broadway musical, Romance / Romance, and then I came back and got Quantum. So I felt like I was in the right place and that the business was going to find me, because I had so much early encouragement when I got out here. I'm glad I didn't come out when I was 21 or 22, I'm glad I went from St. Louis to New York. because I was from theater, I understood the theater and I had a lot to learn in the theater, as I still do. I knew nothing about the film world and I know I would have been frustrated and lost. At least in New York you really get to get into the business and participate in the business whether you have a job or not, you get to audition and go and perform and sit and do meetings and meetings and talk. So it's much more tangible in New York, and here it's very, very whimsical.

QUESTION: So when you went back to New York for the writers' strike...?

SCOTT BAKULA: Yeah, it was just luck. Again, the people that knew me in New York did an industrial for the man who wrote the music for [Romance / Romance], Keith Herman, and they brought the show — they had done it Off-Broadway and they were moving it to Broadway. I guess I had enough success out here combined with what I had done in New York that they thought I would be a good person to plug into the show. And it just worked out that the timing of them going into production and me finishing my season with Eisenhower & Lutz, and then the writers' strike happened after that, when I went to New York I said, "Look, I may only be able to work for 12 weeks because Eisenhower & Lutz is going to come back and I'll be doing that this summer. You're going to have to let me go." Which they agreed to do, which they never do. And of course, not only did the writers' strike happen, but Eisenhower & Lutz was canceled and I was in New York in a Broadway musical and feeling very, very fortunate.

QUESTION: Because of the fact you weren't known in television at the time you got the role, did it ever seem the overwhelming? Was there pressure?

SCOTT BAKULA: I was so well-prepared, I had done so many theater pieces where the show rested on my shoulders, and there's no more pressure than on opening night [with the] critics and new material. I had done a lot of new material in the last three or four years before I left New York. And that whole experience really got me feeling confident with new things. I didn't know that much about the [film and TV] business and I wasn't that into what the network is thinking and what are they doing and they're testing it and ho — my God, I wasn't into any of that. So I got this part and it seemed like a lot of fun to do.

Dean and I hooked up really well. Our confidence in each other and what we were doing kind of carried us, certainly carried me. And I was working with Dean Stockwell and I was a huge fan of his and we knew, we were pretty sure, he was going to get an Academy award nomination for Married to the Mob. [And it] made you feel very good that you're working with one of the most successful producer-writers in television. The script was great, so I went after it and did the best I could and made a few stands about what they wanted me to do with my character and not really just because I had confidence in my own abilities and my own choices that I had been making in the last four years prior to that with new material. Basically I said, "This is how I'm going to play the role and this is how I believe the role is going to work. And if you don't want me to play it this way then you need to find somebody else, because I believe this is how the role should be. And if you wanted Bill Murray you should've hired Bill Murray." And it's worked.

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BIOGRAPHY | INTERVIEW 1