Scott Porter, who stars in the upcoming film "Bandslam" (opening Friday, August 14) joins us to discuss his character, Ben Wheatly, whose musical inspiration seems to stem from a slight misinterpretation of Bruce Springsteen songs. We also catch up on what Jason Street -- Scott's character from "Friday Night Lights" -- is up to these days (not to mention we discover, in a pretty traumatic way, Scott knows a thing or two about football himself), the story behind his duet with Hugh Grant in the "Pop Goes My Heart" video from "Music and Lyrics" and why every character he plays seems to wind up, one way or another, in New Jersey.

Scott Porter: Hey Mike!

Mike: How are you doing?

Scott Porter: I'm in Orlando with my family just hanging out.

Mike: How did "Bandslam" come about? [...] David Bowie's presence always helps, right?

Scott Porter: Yeah, but it was really [Director] Todd [Graff] that got me involved and the fact that Jason Robert Brown was doing two of the songs I was going to be preforming. They also told me they'd teach me how to play guitar for free, so, I got a free guitar lesson to boot! Let's do it.

Mike: I know you get this a lot, but it has to feel good you can still play a character that's, what, 18, when you just turned 30, right?

Scott Porter: I did. I did just turn 30 a couple weeks back. You have to remember that when I shot the movie I think I was 27, so it's been a couple years since we did this movie. They had expected to put it in the fall/winter area like when "Juno" had come out a year prior to that. I guess they put the movie together and they thought it would be a nice little summer hit. It's been a couple years, but I'll tell you, I don't mind looking young at 30. It's definitely a bonus [...] I'm going to play as young as I can for as long as I can. I know I've hit this area now; it's the dreaded no mans land of acting for men. You're not young enough to be a high schooler; you're not old enough to be a leading man with a family and everything.

Image © PR Photos

Mike: Richard Jenkins is in [your next film, "Dear John"], right? I love Richard Jenkins.

Scott Porter: You know what? I love Richard Jenkins, as well. Unfortunately, I never got to meet him. When I shot everything it was kind of the Amanda [Sayfried]/Channing [Tatum] and my character's love triangle is what I was there for. They kind of brought Jenkins in for two and a half weeks after I had left. [...] Just like in "Bandslam," I was in and then David Bowie, when he stepped into the movie, decided he wanted to shoot his scenes in New York and I was down in Austin. So I didn't get to meet Mr. Bowie, either. Mr. Bowie did say, "Nobody directs David Bowie but David Bowie." But, I wouldn't expect anything less from David Bowie. He directed most of his videos back in the day; I wouldn't question him. I work in a lot of these movies with these phenomenal actors and I never get to meet them. That's why in "Speed Racer" it was so cool that John Goodman and Susan Sarandon where my parents. Working with Susan Sarandon and the amazing John Goodman, it was awesome.

Mike: I'm from the same hometown as John Goodman, he's quite the legend around the St. Louis metro area.

Scott Porter: Yeah! St. Louis, Midwestern. I'm from Omaha, Nebraska, originally.

Mike: Oh, yeah, I went to high school in Kansas City so we didn't grow up too far apart.

Scott Porter: Ah. Are you Chiefs fan?

Mike: I was a huge Chiefs fan for about ten years. The Joe Montana 90's Chiefs are still my favorite football teams of all time.

Scott Porter: The Montana 90's!? Ugh! You're killing me, smalls. I'm a Broncos fan. I hate the Chiefs. Montana is hated by me because of the [Super Bowl] 55 point drubbing...

Mike: That, and there's also that game where Montana was with the Chiefs...

Scott Porter: The game winning drive. There was four minutes left, Elway comes down the field. With two minutes left Montana comes back down the field.

Mike: For once in the Chiefs/Broncos rivalry the Chiefs actually won that game. Though, after college -- I went to Mizzou, and...

Scott Porter: You went to Mizzou as well!? Ugh, I'm a Husker! This is a disaster.

Mike: (Laughs) Oh, no. We should have figured all of this out before.

Scott Porter: (Laughing) I'm kidding, man. I know about having to deal with rivalries, my girlfriend went to Texas and her sister went to Mizzou.

Mike: To be fair about Mizzou/Nebraska, It's only been on our side for a couple of years. You had a nice, what, 40 year run?

Scott Porter: Yeah, we had a nice 39 year run (laughs). You guys would score one touchdown, the goal posts would come down. I'm kidding. I'm kidding

Mike: No, no. You're not kidding. That would actually happen. OK, back to "Bandslam," do you enjoy playing the antagonist?

Scott Porter: [...] With Ben, he's not maliciously trying to destroy these other people in this other band. He's just trying to win. So, I enjoyed it a lot. It was a lot of fun being on the opposite side and trying to find a balance because I didn't want to be -- because in the first script he was very... I know I can't say douchebag in the interview....

Mike: It's the Internet, you can say anything you want!

Scott Porter: Yeah, he was a douchebag. He was that guy that you see in the movies that they bring in just for the audience to hate and I didn't want to be that stereotype.

Scott Porter in Bandslam © Summit Entertainment

Mike: I like the name of Ben's band: Ben Wheatly and the Glory Dogs. To me it's always a good move to put your name in the title of the band.

Scott Porter: (Laughs) That's part of Ben's thing. It's always been Ben Wheatly and the Glory Dogs so that he could just replace the Glory Dogs. What you find out about Ben is that's he's the biggest Bruce Springsteen fan, ever. It was always Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.

Mike: Yeah, I've seen Bruce Springsteen twelve times. Thirteen next month.

Scott Porter: Wow. The director had seen him... I think you may be rivaling him. I have to call Tony and tell him he's slacking. You'd get a kick out of the Glory Dogs because he's got a lead guitarist that he gave a nickname to. He's got a saxophone player that he gives a nickname to. It's a very typical E Street Band setup. I think it got cut out of the final cut of the movie and I hope they put it in an extended DVD version, but it's a 17 year old kid singing about knocking on factory doors and that factories aren't hiring anymore. And he's trying to take his girl and hit the road; to escape this town. Amazing song called "Blowin' in the Wind." This kid has no idea what he's singing but he wrote these lyrics just because he was a huge Springsteen fan ... it's set in Jersey so it had to be that this kid would be a huge Springsteen fan ... It starts out with the line, "Hey little girl with the blue jeans on..."

Mike: It's funny that not only does Ben live in New Jersey, Jason Street [Scott's character from "Friday Night Lights"] lives in New Jersey too, right?

Scott Porter: Jason Street does now live in New Jersey.

Mike: He could go see Ben and the Glory Dogs play!

Scott Porter: He will. He probably actually just wheeled himself into a bar right now to watch Ben Wheatley and the Glory Dogs play. Jason Street is a huge Ben Wheatley and the Glory Dogs fan. I'm trying to get all my characters to go to New Jersey, actually.

Mike: That should be in any contract you sign from now on, by the end of the film he has to wind up in New Jersey.

Scott Porter: Colin Thompson from "Music and Lyrics" lives in New Jersey.

Mike: Oh, that's right...

Scott Porter: He fell on hard times and had to move out of the city and he moved on to Jersey. Colin Thompson is actually a bigger Glory Dogs fan than Jason Street. So, I'm trying to just get everybody there.

Mike: I have to say one thing about "Music and Lyrics" -- and I'm not going to admit how many times I may or may not have laughed during that movie -- I will say the video for "Pop Goes My Heart" made me laugh.

Scott Porter: I like how you said, "I'm not going to admit how many times I may or may not have laughed during 'Music and Lyrics' but I love the rock video." Just say it... How many times have you watched "Pop Goes My Heart" because I've watched "Pop Goes My Heart" a couple of thousand times?

Mike: I'll say that any time I'm flipping through stations and the beginning of "Music and Lyrics" is on, I'll always have to watch that part again.

Scott Porter: It's one of the best things I've ever done. It's probably my favorite thing I've ever shot. I got back from finishing the pilot of "Friday Night Lights," I landed at the airport, I got in a car, went straight to the audition, walked in and sang some Stevie Wonder. That was my audition song. And they're like, "We'd like you to come in tomorrow; we're going to dress you and have you dance around a little bit." So I went in and they're like, "Give us an 80's dance." ... They booked me and the next Monday I was shooting. I walked in and expected choreography and the only choreography they had was the patented Hugh Grant lawnmower move. I don't know what that is. The director literally said, "OK Scott, we're just going to let you go. Anything you want to do, just show us what you've got. Anything at all." So I asked, "Can I touch Mr. Grant or is that off limits?" And they were like, "No. Please."

It was funny, the first thing Hugh Grant ever said to me was, "How old are you?" I said, "25." And he said, "Oh, fuck off," and turns around and walks away. Then he came back 10 minutes later and says, "turn around." And he looks at my butt and goes, "oh, bugger me," and turns around and walks away again. That was my first time ever working with a star. He's very funny; he's very charming. He's exactly what you think he'd be like in real life. He looks at me and says, "Have you seen my work?" I said, "Oh, you were great in 'American Dreamz.' You were a real bastard in that movie." He gave me the dirtiest look and he got up and walked away. And I sat there [thinking] my career is over. I've just now upset the star of the movie I'm in for two minutes. What have I done? He comes back in with a doughnut from craft services and he goes, "I suppose I was, wasn't I? I'm glad you appreciated that." Then he started smiling and laughing; he realized I was sweating the entire time sitting in the chair.

Mike: Sorry this went longer than expected, I didn't realize we'd have a breakdown of college football.

Scott Porter: No problem, that's where the best stuff comes from, right?

Mike: Well, when Nebraska beats Missouri this year, you can think of me when Missouri scores one touchdown and I'm running on the field trying to take down the goalpost.

Scott Porter: (Laughing) As a closing, what did you think about "The Kick."

Mike: Yeah, I was at that game...

Scott Porter: (Laughing)

Mike: What do you think I think about it? It's a terrible memory. It was the worst play ever because for 15 seconds I believed we had just won that game. Half my friends had just run on the field ... It's just a terrible memory. I can't believe you just brought that up. How dare you (laughs).

Scott Porter: I'm sorry. Do you feel you guys were robbed?

Mike: I don't know ... it was such a crazy play.

Scott Porter: I'll tell you what. I was rooting for Missouri last year versus Northwestern in the Alamo Bowl. I was actually at that game. My girlfriend's sister went there and we're all Big XII, so...

Mike: Well, best of luck with "Bandslam." I'm not going to wish you luck with the Huskers, but best of luck with everything else.

Scott Porter: (Laughs) Oh, we don't need it this year.

"Mike's Pulse" is a column written by transplanted Midwesterner and current New Yorker Mike Ryan. For any compliments or complaints -- preferably the former -- you may contact Mike directly at
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