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Irish actor and MTV's newest star Emmett Scanlan is Hollywood’s next Colin Farrell.
“Actually, I think what you’ve been reading is that I’m ‘the poor man’s Colin Farrell,’” Scanlan told IrishCentral.com from his temporary digs in L.A.
Either way, the up-and-coming actor doesn’t mind. “I couldn’t give a shite,” he said. “As long as people are talking about you, I guess it’s okay.”
The born and bred north Dubliner is the star of MTV’s new action-packed reality show, “The Phone,” which is produced by Justin Timberlake.
Scanlan plays The Operator, who along with his two “agents” leads young (and clueless) game contestants through dangerous challenges in competition for the grand prize. Scanlan sums up the show in the opening credits: “Four players, two teams, but only one will survive – to win $50,000.”
The high-stakes game show premiered on MTV last week to mixed reviews. But with Justin Timberlake’s name and Scanlan's fresh face associated with the show, it’s creating quite a buzz. The New York Post notes that Scanlan is “incredibly good looking,” another paper referred to him as “a hungover Pierce Brosnan” (Scanlan says he has no idea what that means), while the Irish media is dubbing him their next “bad boy.”
Though “The Phone” is certainly not Scanlan’s first television role, it is the first large-scale project he’s worked on for U.S. audiences.
“What a sweet gig to land – my first gig,” Scanlan said.
In each episode, Scanlan, with his dark, dramatic Irish accent, calls up four strangers, turning their average day into a wild adventure where they will go head-to-head as they race to complete their assigned challenge.
The cheeky actor is enjoying the power the role of The Operator brings. “I get to be the mastermind in this game. These people have no idea what’s happening from one minute to the next, and I get to toy with their emotions, f**k with them, push them a little bit,” he said.
Scanlan has had lots of practice playing dark roles. In the Irish gangster film “3 Crosses,” he plays a “demonic,” bare knuckle fighting character seeking revenge for his brother’s murder, while in the upcoming Irish thriller “Savage,” he plays a “male chauvinistic pig who starts fights.”
So why is the 30-year-old always cast as the “bad boy?”
“I don’t know – you’d have to ask the directors that. I think I got a d**khead face. When you look at me, you just go ‘he’s a d***khead,’” Scanlan joked.
He may look the part, but back at home, Scanlan is anything but.
The actor decided to seriously devote himself to his craft after his daughter, Kayla, was born in 2002.
“It was always something that I was going to do, and the fact that I had a kid didn’t really change anything with wanting to pursue it. If anything, it made me work harder,” he said.
Though inevitably, with a successful acting career comes time away from family.
“It’s quite hard, you know, I’ve been away all year,” Scanlan said. But the young actor makes it work.
“I flew Kayla into Boston for five days. We went to Fenway Park, we went to the Celtics, we went to see 'Disney on Ice,' we went to do all the tourist sort of things. She’s looking at me in the hotel and said ‘Daddy this is the best day of my life.’ I said, ‘Really, in six years this is the best day of your life?’ I said, ‘Yeah, what’d you do last week?’ She goes: ‘I don’t remember.’”
Scanlan’s daughter gets a kick out of seeing her father on TV, so he’s sure to send every episode of "The Phone" to “the ex so [Kayla] can see what daddy’s doing.”
Next up for the promising actor is a role on the television series “The Clinic,” Ireland’s version of "ER."
“‘The Clinic’ is a medical drama back home in Ireland...Irish people can relate to that sort of depressing seriousness," he said.
“I worked on it last year. I was the comic relief for the final episode, and luckily, for me, they liked what they saw and they wanted me back."
Scanlan wraps up “The Phone” May 7, flies out on the 8th, and starts rehearsals for “The Clinic” on the 9th. “And I’ll have few drinks in me as well because I f*****g hate flying,” he added.
The actor and family man said: “This is the first time I’ve been in a situation where I’ve gone from job to job after six years, so you know, I’m gonna sit back and enjoy the ride.”