Born and raised in England, Jack Cutmore-Scott, 28, graduated from Harvard University and currently stars in Fox’s Sunday night comedy Cooper Barrett’s Guide to Surviving Life. Last seen in the action/adventure film Kingsman, he has an impressive resume in the theater, with credits including Cyrano de Bergerac, Arcadia and Shakespeare in the Park’s 2014 production of Much Ado About Nothing. He lives in Los Angeles.
Jack Cutmore-Scott: I’m close enough for comfort. I feel very in tune with his problems and dilemmas, although I think I have a little more self-control and make slightly better choices.
Biggest lesson on how to survive in LA? I guess to focus on the job. It’s the same for all the work I’ve done. It’s very easy to get worked up about the noise surrounding it. There can be any number of weird complications to any element of this industry, and Hollywood is the pinnacle of that. So it’s been important for me not to listen too closely to a lot of that, other than what’s happening on set and focusing on doing the best job I can do.
Why do you think you got cast as Cooper? I honestly don’t know. Still trying to figure that one out. He’s a guy out of college, in his 20s, with no idea of what he’s doing, and that’s exactly where I was and continue to be. So that part was a pretty easy connect. But another part was not taking yourself too seriously, because I don’t really see myself as anything that special. Cooper is that guy. He’s just barreling along, trying not to make too many mistakes, and in the process making a huge number of them.
On the show, you present the predicament, then work backward to show the decisions that lead to it. Do you look at your life that way? One hundred and ten percent. I do that all the time. It’s kind of a serious problem. I call it the “What if” game. I’ll look at a current situation that I’m in and then I’ll see how far I can trace back through the “if this hadn’t happened at that moment, what would be different?” You know—if I hadn’t attended college in America, I very much doubt I’d be in this profession.
Most difficult part of breaking the fourth wall on camera? The trickiest part, I’ve found, is treating this weird, black hole of a lens as if it’s a person. It’s very easy to look at it and feel like a void is staring back at you. Direct address is sometimes easier on stage, especially if you can see the audience. You can engage with them. So it’s trying to remember what it’s like talking to a human being and applying that to this weird metal and glass contraption.
Do you use your accent as a seduction tool? Never. That’s using your powers for evil. That would be disgusting and reprehensible. [Laughs.]
Hardest part of doing an American accent? For me, it’s the weird words that I would never say or think of pronouncing differently. It’s quite jarring when they crop up. The other thing would be emotion. As with anything, if you get too emotional, you start to lose control, and an accent is really hard to keep ahold of if you’re really getting into the moment.
How about to sound posh or authoritative? Absolutely! If I need to get a reservation or something.
Do your British friends accuse you of having an American accent now that you’ve lived here for a while? Oh, absolutely. I get shit every time I go home for my various Americanizations. It’s bizarre to be the Brit in the United States and then the American at home. Identity crises have happened with some regularity over the last 10 years.
Damian Lewis, Eddie Redmayne, Benedict Cumberbatch—what’s up with all these Brits playing Americans? I don’t know. I wish I did, and I could bottle it and sell it. I think maybe there’s a sensibility. British drama schools have this reputation for churning out amazing actors, myself not included, and by the time they make it over to the States, they’ve already had these amazing careers and paid their dues, put in their 10,000 hours. So while there’s a lot of “Oh my God, where did he come from?” the reality is that these people have been honing their craft for years.
Who’s the one who blows you away? In terms of Americanizing himself? I’m going to go with Hugh Laurie on House. He was fantastic in that role. Completely three-dimensional.
Is the chemistry on the show real or just acting? We all have amazing chemistry. I think that’s part of what makes it so fun. What you see on screen is very much like the way we get on in real life.
Who would you rather live with in real life? Oh, that’s a tough one. James Earl has a very nice place, but Charlie Saxton does have a very cute dog. I think maybe Charlie, but just by a hair.
Yours is the only non-animated show on Fox’s Sunday night lineup. How does that feel? Well, our show does have a cartoonish feel. We push the bounds of realism. But I think comedically it makes sense, and The Simpsons is obviously a nice [pairing]. It’s a good match in terms of sensibility.
Was Kingsman a surprise to you in terms of how well it did? Everything about Kingsman was a surprise to me. I had no idea what to expect. It was my first film. It was my first experience working at home. It was chock full of firsts. It was an amazing, incredible experience.
Do you miss the stage? I do. I very much hope that as the next few years progress, I’ll get the chance to do both and go back and forth. It’s funny. I’m realizing more and more how different the skill set is, and I definitely want to make sure that I keep that one alive. The weirdest thing about doing TV and film has been the delay between doing something and then waiting three or six or nine months before anyone responds to it.
Most important thing you learned at Harvard? I’d say the value of maintaining an intellectual curiosity and not getting too narrow a focus. It’s very easy as you choose your concentration to become very single-minded about it, and one thing I learned and have tried to continue in the last 10 years is to remember that just because I’m doing one thing right now, that doesn’t mean I have to be doing it at all times. Also, the importance of good friends.
Thing you liked the most about Boston? Well, that’s tough. I was very lucky to live in Back Bay for six months after graduation, and I met so many people who really shaped how I behave and see my role in this profession. I did Nicholas Nickleby at the Lyric Stage, and it was fantastic. Best time of my life. The Boston theater crowd are the finest people I’ve ever had the good fortune to work with. They taught me not only how to be a better actor, but how to be an actor that people are going to want to work with.
Photographed by Martin Rusch in Los Angeles; Styling: Mark Holmes / Jed Root; Grooming: Carissa Ferreri / Tracey Mattingly; Wardrobe: Saint Laurent by Hedi Slimane shirt, Nudie jeans, Shinola watch
Second photo wardrobe credits: Nylon Bomber Jacket by BURBERRY BRITT; White Tshirt by BURBERRY BRITT; Jeans by BURBERRY BRITT; Watch by Shinola; Boots are Vintage