People

People

TANYA DAVIES February 1 1999
People

People

TANYA DAVIES February 1 1999

People

Bigger pond, big splash

TANYA DAVIES

Actor Scott Speedman is an overnight success—literally. The 23year-old Toronto native stars in one of this season’s most-talked-about television series, Felicity. But only weeks before shooting began on the pilot last year, he was an unemployed actor living at his parents’ house. “I had just dropped out of theatre school at the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York City, and I was sitting around, not doing very much,” says Speedman, who sent an audition tape to the show’s producers on a Friday and was hired and in Los Angeles within a week. “It was incredible—usually when you send a tape to Hollywood, you never hear back.”

Growing up, Speedman was more interested in athletics than acting. A member of the Canadian junior national swim team, the freestyle specialist was ranked ninth in the country in 1992. But a shoulder injury forced Speedman to give up the

sport when he was 19 and look for other distractions. He chose acting, and got an agent after speaking on a public TV forum. He was cast only in small parts in independent films and American movies-ofthe-week before Felicity. “There’s not a whole lot of scripts that I like, and I really enjoyed this,” he says. There was just one problem: the role of Ben, the sexy and sensitive university student who sweeps fellow student Felicity off her feet, had already been given to American actor Scott Foley. Still, Speedman says he doesn’t feel badly for winning away the part of Ben because Foley was then cast as another major character in the series. “So there is no bad blood between us.” Speedman, who is single, is trying to adjust to being a Hollywood hunk. “I don’t really feel much like a heartthrob,” he says. “And I don’t have that savvy. I’m just going to take the roles I like, and whatever happens, happens.”

Taking charge in a man’s world

When Kari Matchett auditioned for a role in Power Play, the CTV television series about a professional hockey team, she had to ask her husband,

T. W. Peacocke, a director, for some tips on the sport. “I don’t know anything about hockey, but my husband is a fanatic,” she says. “I’m still asking him questions.”

He obviously taught her well: the 28-year-old Toronto actress landed the role of Colleen Blessed, the beautiful but tough president of the Hamilton Steel heads who wants to move the losing team to Houston and make big bucks.

“I like Colleen,” says Matchett about her key role on the show. “She can be a bitch, but she has to be—she is a woman in a male-dominated world.” Matchett has wanted to act since she read an article about how films are made when she was 12. Seven years later, she was accepted at the prestigious National Theatre School in Montreal and then continued her studies at the Moscow Theatre School, where she learned some Russian. She has appeared in various productions at the Stratford Festival and in a number of TV series, but Power Play is her first high-profile role. “People are starting to recognize me on the street,” she says, “which I like because it means people have seen my work.” Besides co-starring with AI Waxman, Michael Riley and Don Cherry, Matchett had a chance to work with her husband when he directed an episode last fall. “It was a little weird,” she admits. “It was hard for me not to disagree and say, ‘What are you, crazy?’

I had to keep myself in check.” After all, directors get to call the shots.