Scoot McNairy, an avid fly-fisher, was knee-deep in the icebox waters of Utah’s Heber River when his agent phoned to say that filmmaker Andrew Dominik needed to meet with him in Los Angeles. By the following day, the 32-year-old Texan, who lives about two hours east of Austin with his wife and onetime costar, actor Whitney Able, had committed a three-page monologue to memory and nailed his audition for Killing Them Softly. He was offered the part of mob heister Frankie in Dominik’s grimy noir and, five weeks later, was sharing screen time with Brad Pitt.
The role put McNairy on Hollywood’s fast track: Dominik called Ben Affleck, who was auditioning actors for Argo, his fictional retelling of the 1979 Iran hostage crisis (McNairy landed the part of one of the six American diplomats hiding out in Tehran’s Canadian consulate; the film, of course, went on to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards); not long after, longtime Affleck collaborator Gus Van Sant cast McNairy in this season’s fracking drama Promised Land, which also stars co-writers Matt Damon and John Krasinski; finally, Pitt “put in a few very nice calls,” and the next thing McNairy knew, he and Pitt were back together on the set of Steve McQueen’s plantation-set period piece called Twelve Years a Slave. McNairy was also recently cast in the AMC tech-drama Halt & Catch Fire. Not bad for a guy who once spent six months living out of his car.
Unhook the Stars: “For the first 10 seconds of my first scene with Brad, it was like, Holy shit. Now it’s just like any other working relationship—same with Matt, Ben, Gus, and John. But can I believe I’m saying that? No, I cannot.”