PLAYBOY: After 10 years in movies you returned to TV for the nuclear-submarine thriller Last Resort. Why?
SPEEDMAN: It’s ambitious. A lot of actors like me are looking to go into cable stuff like Breaking Bad or Homeland. Then this came along and it was the opposite—not in quality but in scope and size. Last Resort is a big, exciting epic. We’re not doing bland, generic network TV. I mean, the episode we just shot involves weapons-grade hallucinogens. I’m tripping in prime time.
PLAYBOY: This show is almost the opposite of Felicity, the 1998–2002 WB drama that made you a hero to millions of teenage girls.
SPEEDMAN: That show didn’t get massive ratings, but the fans we had were rabid. It makes you wonder what guys like Johnny Depp and Robert Pattinson go through. I never got near their level, but I was close enough to get my feet wet, to sort of peek around the corner, see the hysteria and say, “No, thank you.” But I’ve thought about a Felicity sequel. People want a reunion. I joke that I’d totally do it if it’s years later and my character, Ben, weighs 500 pounds. He’s a shut-in, and they’re bringing paramedics and pulleys to get him out of bed.
PLAYBOY: Do you prefer playing a Navy captain?
SPEEDMAN: I’m the worst. That part of it’s tricky for me, the naval-command thing—the military way he stands, the way he orders people around. I grew up in Canada, and when you’re Canadian everything comes out as a question. “Um, fire torpedoes?” We have real submariners working as extras, and I always feel they’re looking at me like, “That kind of sucked, man.”
PLAYBOY: As a Canadian, are you especially proud of other Canadians such as Steve Nash and Pamela Anderson?
SPEEDMAN: Well, you can take those one by one. Nash, yes. Pamela Anderson, not so much. Nothing against her, but I’m a huge basketball fan. I love the way Nash plays, with that soccer mentality of his. People talk down his athletic skills, but his skills are just different from those of somebody like Amar’e Stoudemire, who can jump out of the gym. Nash’s balance is crazy. He’s just as good with the left hand as the right hand. He sees the whole floor, sees the pass before the pass. Steve Nash blows my mind.
PLAYBOY: Do you root for your hometown Toronto Raptors?
SPEEDMAN: I root for whoever’s playing against Miami. I’m for the underdog. You can admire the Heat and love watching them—talk about skills—and still root against them a hundred percent. LeBron James? Okay, The Decision was stupid, but when people rip him because he doesn’t take the last-second shot and all that shit, that’s silly to me. The guy’s an all-time player. He’s 27 and he has one ring. How old was Michael Jordan when he won his first, 28?
PLAYBOY: A question for the ages: Jordan or Kobe Bryant?
SPEEDMAN: Both are great. One big difference is hand size—Jordan’s are huge. And he was probably stronger. You’re talking about little differences, obviously, but he has an edge in charisma too. He was an authentic on-court character. I would take Jordan.
PLAYBOY: You were a nationally ranked high school swimming champion. How much of a head start would you need from Michael Phelps?
SPEEDMAN: A mile. And that was my distance—I was a miler. I was pretty good too, but that guy, with his lung capacity and wingspan, was built in a lab for swimming. Michael Phelps has ankles like a fish. My ankles are boards. I hurt my arm and neck swimming, so I don’t swim anymore. Pickup hoops, that’s my dream game, but I don’t really know how to play. What position? None. I just run around aggressively, get the ball and shoot.
PLAYBOY: Are any of your acting colleagues sports nuts like you? You worked with Paul Giamatti, whose dad was once the commissioner of baseball.
SPEEDMAN: People don’t expect it, but Paul’s a real athlete, very mobile and coordinated. He can do stunts. And he’s one of the smartest guys I’ve ever met—funny, always interesting, the only actor I’ve worked with who’s without ego or pretense. And Channing Tatum was a football player. You might remember me as the douche bag in The Vow, with Channing and Rachel McAdams. He’s a cool guy, someone you don’t mind seeing break through and do great.
PLAYBOY: You worked with Ice Cube in XXX: State of the Union. Who would win a cage match between Ice Cube, Tatum and Giamatti?
SPEEDMAN: That’s an interesting match. [laughs] I don’t know…Paul’s pretty feisty.
PLAYBOY: Was making out with Kate Beckinsale in Underworld: Evolution a high or low point? Her husband, Len Wiseman, was the director.
SPEEDMAN: Awkward! That was crazy. It was the first and last time I’ll kiss a man’s wife while he’s filming, I hope. But we all got through it. He didn’t give me any notes. All he said after the take was “Scott, you’re fired.” But he hired me back. Screen kisses—they’re never really a hot moment, you know? You’re trying to be respectful to the actress, but you have to be true to the situation too. Of course there are ground rules. No tongue, that’s understood, unless it’s specified in the script. It would have to be specified for me to bring out the tongue.