As a boy, Andrew Scott had a lisp. "I was sent to speech and drama classes, so I had to do 'He sells seashells on the seashore" endlessly, trying to get rid of the lisp," recalls the Dublin-born actor. "Then in the drama section, you had to get up and do improvisations and all that kind of stuff, and something just happened to me. I was very shy, but when I got up to do those things, I felt, I don't know, emancipated."
Scott made his film debut at age 18 in the Irish drama, Korea. He broke through in the BBC series Sherlock, winning a BAFTA Television Award for his performance as the criminal mastermind Moriarty, and then as the "Hot Priest" on season two of Fleabag. On the big screen, he has had memorable turns in Pride (2014), 1917 (2019), and Catherine Called Birdy (2022).
No matter the role, Scott finds himself returning to his schoolboy days. "I have a strong sense of playfulness, and it's something I go back to daily," he reflects. "Playfulness is something that we're encouraged to do as children, but not so much as we grow into adulthood. You need to keep it playful even when you're doing serious scenes, because you don't know how the day's going to go. Something could happen any second that could completely change our emotional landscape. That's the thing you have to keep alive."
Now, he takes the lead in All of Us Strangers, director Andrew Haigh's haunting love story about a lonely writer, Adam (Scott), who develops an intense bond with a handsome stranger, Harry (Paul Mescal). At the same time, Adam travels back to his childhood home, where he has the chance to reconnect with his long-dead parents (played by Claire Foy and Jamie Bell). It might sound complicated, but for Scott, the "simplicity of the ideas at the center" of the film are what attracted him to the project.
"When I was a kid, I remember I just parked myself in front of the TV and I used to watch those big MGM musicals. I used to be obsessed with those Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers kind of films," says the actor. "In All of Us Strangers, it's all about bringing your parents back, which is quite a theatrical idea, like in those MGM movies, so you don't need to do any CGI to tell the audience that they're ghosts or whatever they might be. You just play it, and the audience loves that. We like a little bit of surrealism. You want the filmmaker to use their imagination."
Below, Scott shares with A.frame five of the films that have had the biggest impact on him throughout his life, including the Meryl Streep starrer that made him finally commit to becoming an actor.
Directed by: Steven Spielberg | Written by: Melissa Mathison
E.T. was the first film I ever saw in the cinema. I was probably about 6 or 7, and I begged my parents to take me to see it. It was the first time I was ever in a movie theater, and I just couldn't believe it. I couldn't believe it was happening to me. I still think E.T. is so completely wonderful. In a way, Spielberg is able to access something that I don't think a lot of people are able to do, which is the feeling of being a child. His sense of wonder is so extraordinary.
It's a really audacious idea, and people love an audacious idea. We talk about realism and you're like, 'Oh my God, as if that would ever happen.' The movies is our chance to go, 'Well no, that would never happen, but we have a chance to do something that tells us who we are except in a completely different way.'
Directed by: Ronald Neame | Written by: Stirling Silliphant and Wendell Mayes
I watched The Poseidon Adventure when I was a kid, and I was absolutely beside myself. It's a disaster movie, which I find stressful as an adult, but it's definitely one that I remember. I think some films in your life are just really potent, aren't they? And they just stay with you. As a kid, I was completely transfixed by the storytelling of that. Like, when Shelley Winters swam to save everybody. I haven't watched it as an adult, but I remember being so invested in the story. Maybe I shouldn't have watched it when I did, because it's pretty serious stuff. But that is definitely one that has stuck with me.
Directed by: Mike Nichols | Written by: Carrie Fisher
I remember it really clearly. It was a very strange thing that happened before my Junior Cert, which is a tedious exam that you have to take in Ireland when you're about 15. My mother said, 'Do you want to go and see a film the night before the exam?' because maybe I'd been working hard, which seems unlikely. We went to see that, and because I had to do this exam the next day, I remember I was like, 'I don't care about this exam. I want to be an actor so much.'
The acting in Postcards from the Edge is so sensational. Meryl Streep is a hero to me because of her extraordinary sense of humor. Obviously, she's incredibly affecting, but all great actors have to have a sense of the absurd. Olivia Colman is another person who has got an extraordinary sense of humor. Judi Dench, Ben Whishaw, Claire Foy. The two things I think you should have as an actor are an imagination and a sense of humor.
With Postcards from the Edge, I love that kind of human story that's told with such flair. I think it is Carrie Fisher's screenplay. They know they're having great fun and it's about show business. It's a film that gives me great, great pleasure, and if ever it's on, I would always watch the whole thing.
Written and Directed by: Paul Thomas Anderson
I love all of his films. I think that beside his extraordinary ability as a storyteller, it's the element of surprise. I love to be surprised. It's a romantic comedy, and I love romantic comedies — I'll watch really any romantic comedy, actually — but that is such a sophisticated romantic comedy. The chemistry between Adam Sandler and Emily Watson is so completely wonderful.
I always think when you're playing tragedy, you should look for the light, and when you're playing comedy, you should look for the soul. I remember when we were doing Hamlet, realizing that it was so funny, even though it's obviously the most famous tragedy in the world. But I think that's the way human beings are, and you always want to have a little bit of both. Punch-Drunk Love has that in spades.
Directed by: Luca Guadagnino | Written by: James Ivory
Call Me By Your Name is such a beautiful love story. It's so atmospheric and it's surprising, that film. At the beginning, I was like, 'What is the dynamic between these two people?' I love the fact that love manifests itself in so many extraordinary ways. It's not just two people who look exactly the same as each other and are exactly the same age. Sometimes in talking about love stories, we don't look at the really surprising love stories, where people just meet each other and connect. They're not always straight people between the ages of 27 and 32 and then they get married, you know what I mean?
Love is for everybody, and there's something about the rebelliousness of that film that's so beautiful. It made me nostalgic for something that I never really had, and it satiated something in me. I just thought it was so beautifully acted and beautifully directed. It was a special one that I remember going to as a full-grown adult.