The Playgirl articles

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Interviews

Scott did two interviews with Playgirl, one in 1989 and one in 1995, and everyone is always asking for them. Apparently they were most recently hosted on Gianna's website, and apparently also, Gianna's website is now.. well... elsewhere (maybe even totally gone). On the theory that the Playgirl issues are likely out of print now,  here's they are with thanks to Beth and Barbara and Elaine ..and apparently Terri for these (which needed to be majorly reformatted so that they would be readable. Line breaks were in all the wrong places, so it took a while)

PLAYGIRL--December 1989

Transcribed by Elaine

A LEAP FOR MANKIND

Close-up by Vicki Jo Radovsky

Scott Bakula may be a confused time traveler on Quantum Leap, But in reality, he's anything but a space cadet

Scott Bakula sits in his publicist's office in Los Angeles, swigging mineral water from a jug. Dressed for comfort in a soft white shirt with the sleeves rolled up, baggy black shorts and loosely laced high-tops, Bakula bears a striking resemblance to Steve Martin. "I think it's the eyebrows," says the amiable actor when told he has the whimsical look of comedy's wild and crazy guy. Neither wild nor crazy himself, St. Louis-born Bakula, 35, may share Martin's bushy eyebrows and prematurely graying hair, but the similarities stop there.

Leaping into the public eye as the star of NBC's Quantum Leap, an innovative blend of sci-fi, romance and humor, Bakula is a veteran of two failed sitcoms (the short-lived Gung Ho and Eisenhower and Lutz) and a recurring role on Designing Women as Annie Potts' obnoxious ex-husband. He's counting on the third-time's-a-charm luck to ensure the future of his current series, a critical success and now in its second season. Bakula plays scientist Sam Beckett, a quantum physicist whose time-travel experiment goes haywire, keeping him ricocheting between different time periods from the 1950s to the 1980s and zapping him into a new identity each week. Acclaimed for his cool, comic charm in the role, the actor enjoys the challenge of playing a different character in each episode, as well as Quantum Leap's fantasy factor. "I've always been a big fan of time travel," he says, "and I'm very into the notion that some day we'll be able to do it. Beam me up!" 

Bakula beamed into show business in 1976, when he dropped out of college to join a road show of Godspell. When it ultimately fell through, he moved to New York City to pursue acting in earnest. Over the years he continued to find steady work and became an accomplished singer, dancer, pianist and composer. Last year, he landed a Tony Award nomination as best actor in a musical for his performance in Broadway's Romance, Romance. 

Earlier, in a 1980 Cincinnati production of The Baker's Wife, Bakula starred in a romance of his own with co-star Krista Neumann. Now, after eight years of marriage, they live in Los Angeles with their five-year-old daughter, Chelsy. With a solid family life to ground him for his leap into the limelight, Bakula remains unpretentious and down to earth. During the interview, he's serious one minute and lighthearted the next, and considers each question carefully before answering in order to express what he really means.

PLAYGIRL: How would you describe Sam Beckett, your Quantum Leap character? BAKULA: He's your quintessential nice guy who really cares about other people. He's incredibly brave, brilliant, sensitive--a great adventurer and a great dreamer. Sam has been called the classic American hero who faces adversity with a sense of humor. I like to think he's desperately trying to make the world a better place. 

PLAYGIRL: Do you identify with him? 
BAKULA: A lot of me is in Sam. I like that there's a lot of the kid in him, and I have a lot of that in me. I'm a real people person, and Sam is too. I went into show business because I love to work with people, and what I enjoy most about acting is rehearsing and getting to know people and their talents, forming relationships. Working in this business, barriers drop and you get into people real quickly. 

PLAYGIRL: Sam has been described as "the sensitized man of the '80s." Do you think men are more sensitive today than in years past? 
BAKULA: I think there's a greater sensitivity in both sexes about what happens between the sexes and their relationship to the world around them, but it's not across the board. People everywhere are different, and you can never make a blanket statement about male-female relationships. In many respects, I think a lot of businessmen have become highly insensitive to the world, the environment, to everything around them. What are they doing with the millions and millions of dollars they're making? Why don't they give anything back? That, to me, is the height of insensitivity. 

PLAYGIRL: Is it harder to be a man today than it was when you were growing up?
BAKULA: In many ways it's easier now because men have greater freedom to be more sensitive, more emotional. Before, it was, "You're a man, you've got to act a certain way--no tears." Now people are getting an honest chance to be whatever they want to be. There are more opportunities now for men to explore themselves more, and the stereotype that was present in the '50s--get married, have kids, the man works, the wife takes care of the kids--has changed. But it can be more difficult to be a man today because there are more options. Ideally, people find mates with whom they can express both their masculine and feminine sides. 

PLAYGIRL: Do you consider yourself a romantic? 
BAKULA: I love romance. I have a great inner fantasy life that I try to bring to light as much as possible, in terms of romancing my wife. I'm not just talking in sexual terms--it's about creating an atmosphere, an environment that's mysterious and different, full of possibilities and surprise. I've learned that surprise is a great thing, and not necessarily the surprise of a gift or a trip. It could be a change in attitude. And that can spark sexuality. But it's not easy. Life seems so busy these days that we all tend to be a bit unromantic. I try to set aside time for romance. 

PLAYGIRL: What was it about Krista that made you realize you wanted to marry her?
BAKULA: We just connected from the beginning in many, many ways. We met through mutual friends who told each of us, "You're going to meet this person and fall in love." So I show up and of course Krista's saying to herself, "Oh, yeah? I dare him!" But within three days, that was pretty much it. 

PLAYGIRL: How do show business pressures affect your marriage? 
BAKULA: On the whole, show business is a hard business in which to be married. I'll have a week when I'll be gone every morning at 5:30 and not get home till 7 p.m., and the next week I'll go to work at four in the afternoon and be home at dawn. That puts great strain on a relationship. And there are so many situations, so many opportunities--the nature of the business is that you tend to be intimate emotionally with whomever you're working. But for Krista and me, marriage seems to work because she understands the business, so she tends to be less jealous about my commitment to it. I've been really determined to make sure I have family time, and I've been lucky that my wife has provided me with a lot of stability and my daughter has provided me with a lot of perspective in general. Knock on wood, we're hanging in there. 

PLAYGIRL: Do female fans ever make passes at you? 
BAKULA: (pauses) Well . . . it happens. But nothing really bad. It's just part of the business. If you become a public figure, you're going to get fan mail, propositions, sometimes you're going to get harassed. But I'm not Don Johnson. I don't have his problems. 

PLAYGIRL: How does Krista react when you get hit on? 
BAKULA: She's human, so I'm sure there are times when it's bothered her, but she can deal with it because she's been there and she understands it. When she was starring in shows, people were coming on to her too, so most of the time she saves me! 

PLAYGIRL: What has been most important in making your marriage work? 
BAKULA: Learning to balance our extremes. I've always tended to be pretty opinionated and resistant to change in my personal life. Krista is the exact opposite-more experimental, taking everything in like a sponge. She's gotten me to be much more willing to try new things, to be more accepting of new ideas. On the other hand, I've brought her a little bit more down to earth. 

PLAYGIRL: In the years ahead, when you're sitting in a rocking chair looking back on your life, what would you like to have accomplished professionally? 
BAKULA: I hope when I'm in that rocking chair that I'll be in front of a camera somewhere. The great thing about show business is that there's no mandatory retirement age. I'd just like to be proud of my work. As an entertainer, you're not curing cancer, but if you can feel like you've honestly entertained--made people laugh and cry and feel and escape-that's your role. 

PLAYGIRL: What about personal achievements? 
BAKULA: I'd like to have independence and freedom. I think that's the ultimate goal for all of us: to be able to do exactly what we want, when we want to do it. If you can reach a point of integrity and the freedom to be able to make your own choices, just because they're the choices you want to make at the time, that's a great accomplishment. 

The Playgirl Interview--March 1995

Transcribed by Terri Librande 

GREAT SCOTT!

Quantum Hunk Scott Bakula is a Man of Many Talents

Interview by Charmian Carl

Scott Bakula always wanted to be an actor, a master of his craft, entertaining people and doing it very well. After a few fitful starts, he established himself as a guest star on Designing Women and hit his professional stride as the amiable and heroic time-traveler Dr. Sam Beckett on Quantum Leap. 
Scott's fans created an uproar when the show was canceled, and we are beginning to see the emergence of a cult-like following around the world. 
While his faithful "Leapers" await the highly anticipated movies, Scott has been busy playing "head-doctors" in both the provocative "Color of Night" with Bruce Willis, and "A Passion To Kill". After starring in Francis Ford Coppola's "Bridges" [I believe this is an error on the writer's part. Scott has worked on Mi Familia (written and directed by Gregory Nava), which had a prior title of Bridges, but as far as I can see, there was no involvement by Coppola.--Pam] Scott has just completed the lead role in "Lord of Illusions", film noir master Clive Barker's supernatural thriller scheduled for release in February. [The movie was finally released in August of 95--Pam]
Scott arrived at PLAYGIRL'S photo shoot after a long day on the set of "Murphy Brown". Always the consummate professional, one could almost see his mind shifting neatly from one project to the next. As we began working, the trademark furrow of his brow confessed the sincerity of his concern to do the best he can at whatever he is doing.  
I wondered how many women would gladly take him in their arms, hold him closely and smooth away all his concerns.  
Suddenly, his eyes twinkled as he saw photographer Greg Gorman's dog come running, flopping and snorting, to his feet. As man and animal exchanged greetings, Scott's face relaxed and smiled, and the shoot was on...

CC: Did you start working as an actor straight out of college? 

SB: No, not quite. I wish right out of college but, no, I was in the middle of my junior year. I dropped out of school and stayed home a whole year (in Missouri) then went to New York. I worked, saved money, did a couple of small parts. I was at an odd age--I wasn't really young enough to be the teen-age heartthrob, and I wasn't old enough to be a dad. 

CC: Tell me about "Lord of Illusions". 

SB: Clive Barker has taken his two favorite genres -- the horror film and the film noir detective character -- and brought them together in the '90's. He's brought Harry D'Amour, the character he's been writing for 10 years, to life. So, he's very excited, very nervous and very anxious about who Harry should be. He's this New York detective who specializes in demonic possession, exorcisms, cults--things the police say are too weird (to handle). Harry takes these cases all the time; he's kind of a freelance guy. 
Through some karmic debt, Harry is constantly drawn to these clashes between good and evil. The forces of evil are constantly trying to assert and disrupt, and Harry's one of the guys who holds them off. He's always watching for them and is aware that they're on the dark side--the line between heaven and hell. 
When Clive said the movie is going to be stylistically a combination of "Chinatown" meets "The Exorcist" I said, "I'm there." Those are two of my favorite movies.

CC: You play those characters that have fate thrust upon them. Is there a part of that reality in your own life?

SB: I'm the kind of person who has spent a lot of his life putting out fires and helping people. So, yeah, there's a lot of that. I'm actually trying to pull back a little bit because it can kill you. It' s not about getting it back, but more about survival. It's an adjustment as I get older. I'm being pulled a hundred different ways all the time with work, family, life and friends. I just don't have as much time as I used to. 

CC: When "Quantum Leap" was taken off the air there was a big uproar. Why was it canceled? 

SB: There was a changing of the guard at NBC. The show hadn't performed well in the time slot we'd been given in the last season, our sixth time slot. I think--one we had no business being in, NBC was desperate for us to perform better than we could. They wanted us to lead off a night twice and we didn't have the numbers to do that. The bloom was off the rose, and Universal had 97 shows, and that was enough to syndicate. We cost a lot of money and were kind of a pain in their sides. A lot of varied minds and egos ended up butting heads and everybody lost. We could have stayed around longer. The great thing is the show is huge around the world. That's really been the high point of it all. I'm going to France next because "Code: Quantum", as it's called over there, is huge. There's tremendous reward in that. So we miss it and hope we'll get to do it again.

CC: Sounds like a feature film, maybe?

SB: That's when we'll do it again.

CC: If you could control your destiny what would you be doing work-wise right now?

SB: Pretty much what I've been doing. I've been really, really lucky. When "Quantum" ended, things didn't go the way I would have liked. I've been up for a lot of things that I thought I would get and didn't. I was like, "Man, this sucks." I didn't understand why. I was a guy who was known for certain things, but I didn't have the recognition and the notoriety that came out of the show.
Frankly, I was hoping that things would open up for me in a different way. They didn't, but it was great because it put me back out there again.

CC: The hunger. 

SB: Yeah, a little bit, and it was frustrating. It's important to have perspective in this business because it's so easy to lose it. My family has always been so great because that's always been a great perspective. When my daughter was born it was like, so what else is important? I mean, what's the big deal? I didn't get a job, so what? It was great for me to have that kind of perspective. 

CC: Would you like to do Broadway again? 

SB: I'd love to go back and do a Broadway show. But, it's hard to do. Moving to New York, taking the family, changing schools and everything, it's a big deal now. As life goes on, you're not making a decision for yourself anymore. Your decisions affect other people, and you have responsibilities. And whatever you decide, something else happens. I did Carol Burnett's show this summer. She's an incredibly gifted and beautiful woman. I got to work with her for a week and laugh. I wouldn't trade that for anything. It wasn't about money or anything like that. It was about Carol Burnett's wanting me to be on her special. 

CC: You're so versatile. You have dramatic, comic and musical sides. You even had a album out about a year ago. 

SB: Well, I had a very diverse childhood. I never did what a lot of kids do now. They take one thing and they do it to the best; that seems to be the way now. I didn't play one sport; I played a bunch of sports. And I sang, played the piano and had a band. 

CC: When you were doing "Quantum Leap" you said, "Well, no one's coming up to me saying, 'Oh, Scott, I want to have your baby.' Yet, you do have women who just love you. They acknowledge that there's more depth, and they think you're a hunk. 

SB: Oh, yes, the word's been used. I've heard it. 

CC: Did girls swoon over you in high school? 

SB: If they did I never knew it. 

CC: You don't really acknowledge it now, do you? 

SB: No. 

CC: Is that you don't really like it? 

SB: It's not that I don't like it; it's that everyone's entitled to how they feel, but I can't base my own feelings on how other people perceive me. If four girls didn't come up every day and say, "We love you, we want to have your baby," or whatever, that wouldn't be a bad day for me. The conceit of this town is that you can be exposed to that kind of wildly misplaced adoration and adulation. I'm an actor, and acting is what I do for a living. I didn't say, "I want to do something in my life so that people will fall over to get to me and want to be seen with me or be with me or sleep with me. I wanted to get on a stage and do a role and have people appreciate that role. I have a very healthy ego, I like to get applause, and I have a strong sense of that. But you can get lost in that other stuff. I know some of the young kids who are coming up, and I've seen them handle it in different ways. I'm also thrilled that it didn't happen to me when I was younger because I don't know how I would have handled it. I certainly empathize with all of them who are having difficulties. 

CC: Describe an ideal day or night...a scenario to really make you say, "This is what life is all about." 

SB: Any day you can be out in nature is a great day. I had a really great 40th birthday recently. It involved being with my family and some of my close friends at the beach for a whole day, at the ocean, in the water, seeing dolphins, sand castles, my kids running up and down like crazy and having a blast, good conversations with my parents. One of my best buddies from New York flew in. We got to see a beautiful sunset in the ocean and the moon fall into the ocean later that night. We took a nice walk in the dark; it was a great birthday. I kept saying, "I'm in one of my favorite places on the planet," which is around water and with a lot of friends and family.

CC: As a child, did you get teased a lot about your last name?

SB: Yeah. It was Drac, or Dracula, or the Count. We all got it, my brother, my sister and I. When I came to New York some people talked to be about wanting to change it and make it an easier name. I ended up keeping it.

CC: What's its derivation?

SB: It's from Bohemia, what was once Czechoslovakia. 

CC: Is there a Bohemian spirit in you? 

SB: I like to think so. It's poetic. I've certainly followed a little bit of that road with what I do. 

CC: When did you first know you wanted to act? 

SB: I really didn't think about it seriously until I went to college. There was a small college outside of St. Louis. They had a wonderful summer theater program, and I got involved in that. The first summer they did "Godspell". It was a big success, and I met a lot of people. A couple of months into my sophomore year I really hated business school, so I changed my major and started theater in January. At the end of that summer I was offered a national tour of "Godspell" that was going to originate in St. Louis. I was faced with a dilemma since it meant I had to leave school. Then the tour fell through, school had started and I was sitting at home. So I started doing theater around St. Louis and decided that I was just going to go to New York the following year.

CC: How did people who knew you back then see you? 

SB: I think they thought I was friendly. I would say I was considered popular in high school. 

CC: Popular with the girls, too? 

SB: I was just popular, doing a lot of different things. I had a lot of friends, was in a lot of different cliques. 

CC: What was your first big break? 

SB: Coming to New York and getting a show the third day I was here--even though it was on the road. That was a really big confidence booster. 

CC: Which show was it? 

SB: "Shenandoah". It was a touring company, doing dinner theaters in North Carolina. I got to New York on a Wednesday, and I was able to call home that Friday night to say that I'd been offered a show. I took my hundred dollars a week and room and board and off I went. I didn't know anybody when I came to New York. I had never been that before; I got a bunch of friends and an agent. When I got back into town I was able to start putting together a resume. That first summer I got my Equity card and kept moving from there. 

CC: What was your first TV role? 

SB: It was on a show called "On Our Own" with Bess Armstrong and Lynnie Green. The best part of the story was that it was with Dixie Carter, because the next television role that I did nine years later was "Designing Women" and that was with her again. So we always laughed about that. I was like, "Hi, Dixie, you probably don't remember me." 

CC: I'm sure she did. 

SB: She said she did. She's so sweet that way. She's a doll. 

CC: Do you enjoy playing Peter Hunt on Murphy Brown? 

SB: Yes, it's been great, and it's really been a great experience getting to know Candice (Bergen) and the whole group over there. It's a tremendously talented cast up and down the line. They all deliver every week. I remember my agent calling me--she was kind of laughing--and she said they want to create a role for me on "Murphy Brown", somebody who can go toe-to-toe with her, kind of like a male Murphy. I started laughing and said, "That might be kind of fun." The guy is a pretty interesting character.

CC: Would you want it to become a regular role? 

SB: No. I think it's more effective the way it works now. 

CC: Is there a part of Peter Hunt in you? 

SB: He's a lot more ruthless than I am, but his devotion to getting his job done to the best of his ability is certainly something that we have in common.

CC: What about his extreme confidence? 

SB: I'm not nearly as cocky as he is. Although, underneath him, somewhere, he's probably insecure, too. 

CC: Would you ever do nudity in film? 

SB: I might. The situation hasn't arrived yet where I've ever had to seriously consider it. I've ever had to seriously consider it. I've done a couple of love scenes that appear to be nude scenes in movies. I don't have a problem with it. It has to be the right situation. 

CC: What's the first thing you notice about a woman? 

SB: There's a certain energy about a woman that hits me and it's usually something in the eyes that you can pick up right away. 

CC: What do you think makes a woman sexy? 

SB: A woman's sense of herself...a woman who has an understanding of who she is and is confident about who she is. Most of the time it's a woman who is trying to be sexy. To me, sexuality is a very individual thing. That's what makes the world go around. 

CC: Hallelujah. 

SB: Yes, hallelujah is right. People can be sexy in their own way and in different ways. It's interesting to see who has that. 

CC: What turns you off in a woman? 

SB: I like women who are confident; so I guess whatever the opposite of that is. My reaction to women and women's reactions to me have changed a lot in the last few years. Women now come to me with a different attitude. 

CC: Because of your fame? 

SB: I guess so. It's very seldom that I meet a woman for the first time who's not in the business or who's not somewhat familiar with me, so I don't necessarily get a true reaction. 

CC: It's interesting that you say that. When I met you I sensed that you don't want to give more of the personal than you have to. At the photo shoot, when I said you looked great, your reaction was rather muted. 

SB: The only way for me to maintain perspective is to tune out a lot. I've never really been comfortable with those kinds of comments. I want to look good for these pictures. I want the pictures to come out well. If I look great, that means that the photographer lit me well and the clothes I was wearing or wasn't wearing looked good, and the makeup artist did a good job, and now I just have to figure out how to do these bloody pictures because I'm trying to be better. 

CC: Once people become famous, others have a tendency to use them. Can you tell who is and isn't sincere? 

SB: I think so. Most of the people in my life have been there for a while. I'm not a perfect judge of character, but I try and take each person and get to know that person and give that person the benefit of the doubt. I always go five times further in terms of trusting people, giving them a chance and letting them make mistakes. I give people a lot of respect, and they give it back to me. I expect them to do their job, want them to do their job, and allow them to do their job because I think that's how it works. I love people; I like meeting them and finding out what makes them tick. I meet so many people just working in the business. There always seems to be 70 or 80 people around. You're constantly bumping up against new people, people with strange energy, good energy, bad energy, people all over the place. It can be difficult, but most of the time it's pretty wonderful. 

CC: How do you keep your head on straight? 

SB: Well, it's a lot about living in the moment and enjoying where I am, who I'm with and what I'm doing at the moment and not looking ahead, not wishing, not trying to change, not trying to affect. I desperately try to not control what' s going on around me and just enjoy that moment for what it is. And I love nature. It's a meditation for me. Being out in nature, being a part of it, is really great. 

CC: What is it that attracts women to you? 

SB: I don't know...I probably have a certain confidence that isn't necessarily on the surface but is there, a good sense of myself. I'm a pretty positive and happy person. I like to have fun.

CC: In speaking of yourself, you don't seem to focus on the physical at all.

SB: I understand that people say that. Do I feel like I'm a sex symbol? No.

CC: Would you want to feel like a sex symbol? 

SB: I don't know. I'd have to call up a sex symbol and ask him how it feels. In the beginning of "Quantum Leap" there was a big concern among some of my producers that Sam Beckett wasn't sexy enough. They wanted him to be sexier in the early testing. The bottom line was probably, "Do you want to sleep with Sam Beckett?" I guess they weren't getting the percentages that they wanted, so there was talk about how to make Sam sexier. I said, "Look, Sam is Sam. Sam isn't Scott, and if you try and make Sam Scott I think you'll lose a lot of the charm of who Sam Beckett is." There's something in a lot of women that would definitely like to take a naive guy like that and educate him as it were. 

CC: Did you enjoy dressing up as a woman for a couple of episodes? 

SB: Most of the time. In the beginning, certainly, it was painful. Getting used to the heels was tough and... 

CC: ...The bra? 

SB: Yeah, the bra. I had to wear a very constricting corset in one episode. I got a little claustrophobic. It was always funny. It was people's response to me dressed up as a woman that interested me more. It was wardrobe that I had never worn before, and by the fifth or sixth time that I did it, it wasn't necessarily ho-hum, but it was, "Here comes the heels, OK, fine," and "What do I have to do in the heels this week and what do the dresses look like?" 

CC: Did you ever get picky about the nylons, makeup or clothes? Like, "That flowered print doesn't go with my complexion"? 

SB: (laughs) No, I didn't get like that. But it was a trip certainly; in the beginning I'd get whistled at all over the lot. The crew guys were holding doors for me. But by the end it just became "There goes Sam again." 

CC: What would you most like to be remembered for in your career? 

SB: Variety. What I'm going for is not being pigeonholed and getting to do a lot of different arenas and hopefully doing it well. I'm very much into the fact that what we do is entertainment, not brain surgery. We're entertainers, and if we can provoke thought and make people laugh and make people cry, then that's it. That part of being an entertainer hasn't changed since the court jester's day. I like being part of that. 

CC: What would you like your epitaph to say? 

SB: I'm constantly rewriting my epitaph. That's the idea. I'd like it to read, "A guy who looked at each day as a blank page and wrote and adapted his daily script every day, a guy who experienced life one day at a time and lived it and loved it as much as he could each day.

C: I like that.

SB: I'm a work in progress.

--

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This is a totally fan-originated, -owned, and -operated site, and is not official, or associated with Scott Bakula or Bakula Productions in any way. It is maintained because I want to share any information I may have access to, with all Scott fans everywhere, all in one place, and as quickly as possible.

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