Photo by: Sam Hanson
Jamie Scott Gordon
By: Anna Hanson
As with most great conversations, my chat with the multifaceted Jamie Scott Gordon began with booze. Naturally, I figured he was a scotch drinker, because he's from SCOTLAND. Alas, I was wrong. Assumptions; am I right? He's a lover of gin. He shared what he thinks to be the most crucial element in any gin and tonic (his favorite cocktail), "The important thing is the quality of the tonic. I've noticed in the States a lot of bars have really nice gin, but they have rubbish tonic. It comes from a gun, the soda gun, so it's mixed with Coke and all the other stuff that comes out of it. It's my own fault for drinking in dive bars I guess but I can’t help it, i love them! I’m the same in Scotland as well I guess, gimme a real pub over a cocktail bar anyday" It doesn't take long to notice that Jamie is a very smart guy. He can speak extensively, and from experience, on almost any given subject. The subject of cocktails was no exception. He shared an experience he had with delicious and expensive cocktails in New York City.
"I was with some people I'd been introduced to in New York. We were somewhere on the Lower East Side, and we go to the most amazing cocktail bar. It was my round so I shelled out $100 for the 4 drinks. One of the girls knows the bartender, and she gets into an argument with him because he didn't do something or...something. Anyway, I was enjoying the drama as much as the cocktail, gin with caramelized orange peel and lemon juice mixed with two bitter and increasingly angry New Yorkers! It was pretty funny but I kept straight face. Suddenly she turned 'We're leaving! He pissed me off!' and then another friend says, 'Yeah! Leave our drinks...leave our drinks as a symbol!' So they stormed out. Shocked, I quaffed something from a martini glass that tasted like Bourbon flavoured pecan pie and hurried out behind them a cocktail in each hand, I banged the empty glasses down on the counter and left with symbolic brain freeze. It actually turned out to be one of the best nights out I had in New York, what a town, love it!"
We bonded, briefly, over our mutual love of Hendricks gin. Jamie had a story about that, as well.
"The best one I ever had was in Iceland. We were actually stranded in the town, there was one road in and one road out, we went in and couldn’t get out for six days. We ended up missing our flights home but it was well worth it. It was a very small town and a fascinating place, half of it had been re-built by a doctor from Norway who had flat-packed his home town (including a hospital, where we were now staying) put it on a boat and rebuilt it in Iceland, apparently, because there was better fishing potential there. What a pioneering Ikea legend! Our host, the current owner of the hospital, had written a book detailing the history of every building in the village. He was a legend in his own right and, as well as the hospital, was also the owner of the best name I’ve ever heard, Thorburger!
So after some of Thorburger’s fine chat and dodgy moonshine we went out to the bar. Turned out there was only one bar and that 14 Norwegian fishing boats were also stranded in port! It was a lively place, to say the least! But yeah, I spied Hendricks on the gantry and ordered a G n’ T. Expecting a slapdash effort I was delighted when the big barman (a weather beaten hulk of a guy) produced a peeler and a cucumber and delicately prepared a belter of a drink. It was the first of many a happy gin and tonic from his hand. We had an amazing time there, I love Iceland, Icelandic people and Norwegian fisherman for that matter. The kindest folk and the most curious and awe inspiring landscape. Actually I ended up doing a play about the Mayor of Rekovic and stand up comedian Jon Gnarr. It’s a brilliant story, inspirational, you should check it out. I think there should be an artist in every Government cabinet throughout the world. We’d all be better off for it.
Jamie is very well-traveled, but he's originally from Kilsyth, Scotland. I had asked if it was known for anything: good whisky, famous castles, anything like that. Nope. He told me that he had found out, while living in Switzerland, that it's said that curling was first played on a pond in Kilsyth. Surely, there must be some sort of festival about this. Apparently not, "The town doesn't celebrate this fact. No one there really knows about it. I found out from a Swiss newspaper, I looked it up, and sure enough turned out it was true. Other than that there was a decisive battle there in the ‘War of Three Kingdom’s’. It sounds pretty Game of Thrones(esque) but it wasn’t a very sexy war - no breasts, dragons or Mel Gibson - it’s not as romanticised as other periods in our history so...nah, nothing famous i’d say...there is a pretty good ‘chippy’ [fish and chip shop] though. Jamie left Kilsyth when he was 18. When he's not working or traveling, his home base is Edinburgh. "I love Edinburgh. We're so lucky because Glasgow is only an hour away and there's so much culture between the two places."
I asked Jamie of the places he's been, lived or visited, what has been his favorite country to explore. He said it's probably one he's not been to yet, because he loves going somewhere new. But, of the places he has been, his favorite trip was when "I cycled around India. It changed my perception a lot. It took six months and we cycled down one coast and up the other, going through every little town that people don't usually visit." Also on that trip, Jamie completed a ten-day meditation, totaling 100 hours of seated silent meditation. Ten hours each day of nothing but silence. "It's fabulous. It really did change my understanding of the journeys and workings of the mind. And it helps a great deal with acting, because it's pure focus." Yeah, I told you, the guy has done stuff.
Several projects are in the works for Jamie. After he wrapped Bonejangles, he was off to do an independent feature called "The Unkindness of Ravens," in which he plays both a soldier with PTSD and the soldier's doppelgänger/alter ego. He’s very excited for that project because of the interesting character. "Yeah, it'll be awesome," says Jamie. Yeah, Jamie, it will be awesome. I'm glad you recognize that. After filming wraps for that project, he's got plays lined up in Scotland for this coming year, and after that he plans to move to London to start working and building a network over there.
Most actors have a few legends they pull from whom they credit as their inspirations. Not Jamie. He credits terrible actors as his inspiration to start acting. Curveball? Agreed. But, it weirdly makes a lot of sense. "The thing that gave me the kick to start acting, which was six years ago, was seeing how badly it was done. Watching TV shows, in particular, you'd see bad acting and I thought, if professionals can do it badly, certainly I can start off doing it badly and then get better as I go. It's a curious inspiration to have, but I just thought, since it seems like anyone can do it...these guys [on TV] are doing it and they're rubbish." Aside from terrible actors, Jamie very much enjoys the performances of Anthony Hopkins, Daniel Day Lewis and Jack Lemon.
On Jack Lemon: "I adore him. My Granda introduced me to the films of Jack Lemon and Walter Matthau, those guys, Charlie Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy, his absolute favorite was Laurel and Hardy, happy days"
For being so affable, talkative, and clever, Jamie hasn't seen many comedic roles. In fact, he's been cast as a killer more than anything else. Three times, actually, and all of them feature films. That's a lot of killing for a kind and gentle Scot.
It took a couple of hours after I'd met Jamie to notice his thick Scottish accent. I assumed he turned it on and off just to mess with people like me. That's what I would do, and it would be so much fun. But, no, Jamie's too serious for the likes of that. He worked with a dialect coach in preparation for Bonjangles and she advised him to use it as much as possible in the lead up to filming and when on set. "This is the first time I've worked in an American accent, it’s been so interesting. To intonate the things I want to say, as the person I am, neutral of any characterization, no matter how subtle, in an American accent has been a great challenge and a fascinating journey. I feel so privileged to call this my work”
An American accent on Jamie seems like such a waste, because his accent is so great. "I do love my own accent. I've been so busy in America, largely due to my accent. And I just happened to bring my kilt. It's awesome being Scottish, because everyone's part Scotch. My favorite is when someone hears my accent and they'll say, 'Are you from Ireland?' I'll reply, 'Scotland' and then they'll say 'I knew it, my great great granddaddy was Scotch' And the’ll go on to tell you the story of how their Scottish Grandaddy came to America. It’s brilliant! Likewise if I wear my kilt in the street people cross the road to ask what clan i’m from, shake my hand and tell me how their great great Granddaddy came to America. God Bless America...and Scotland!"
I'm leaving you with his Desert Island picks. Desert Island was so fun with Jamie, because he takes it so seriously, as you'll see. I poked fun at him for the grave demeanor he adopted for the game and he replied, "You should see me play Pandemic! I find it stressful. 'Oh my God!' 'People are dying in Tokyo!' It's awful."
Jamie Scott Gordon's Desert Island:
Me: Three items: what would you bring?
Jamie: Oh my goodness. Well, do I have sustenance? Food, water and everything?
Jamie: Can I load a Kindle? But, then I can't recharge it. Should I bring a library of some sort? Is that one item?
Me: No, a library is not one item.
Jamie: What?! So, one book is one item?
Jamie: Oh no. Well, I'd bring a Kindle, but I'd go mad when it ran out. Can I bring some sort of solar pack and a Kindle?
Me: Of course.
Jamie: Thank God. And a hard drive filled with books. Can I add that, as well? I'll decide. Yes. The Kindle, the solar pack and the hard drive are one item. ...Please?
Me: You've already decided. I have the feeling your desert island will resemble your living room by the end of this.
Jamie: What did Wayne say?
Me: Wayne said he would take his phone, a solar charger, and a blanket.
Jamie: Awwwww, Wayne...I'd take Wayne.
Me: The person?
Jamie: Yes, we'd have a great time. Wait, why would he bring his phone? He wouldn't be able to get any signal...
Me: For his music.
Jamie: Oh God, music! I'll need to learn an instrument! What would I bring? Not a guitar, because the strings would break. Bagpipes? No. ...Bagpipes? Maybe I could learn the bagpipes. Could I bring a piano, or would it all rot and stuff?
Me: Take three deep breaths...
Jamie: Harmonica! That's it! Oh, but then it'd get sand in it.
Me: Okay, you have three items.
Me: Yeah, you have your bundle of 3 items, Wayne the person, and a harmonica.
Jamie: I s'pose a knife would be practical...this is stressing me out. I need to know more about the island.
Me: No knife. This game is over.