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Actor Scoot McNairy on overcoming learning disabilities, his fear of desk jobs, his upcoming thrillers


(G.N.S) Dt. 22
For someone who grew up dyslexic, everyday numbers and words were signs of the demon for American actor-producer Scoot McNairy. Little did he know that a few years later he would find his calling in the world of cinema.
Through the movies
The 40-year-old has been quite vocal about the difficulties he faced growing up. In school (especially for students with dyslexia) n his hometown, Dallas, McNairy realised he learnt best by watching. Growing up, he knew he wanted to get into the film business, though acting was never on the cards until later in his life. “What pulled me was that I learnt so much by watching movies. Working on fixing a car engine was so much easier if I could see the parts of the engine versus reading a book,” he explains. Did that translate to better expression on screen? Possibly, ponders the actor. “Reading never gave me real joy. My way of exploring stories and fairy tales was through movies.”
McNairy, who has played pivotal roles in award-winning films like Argo, Gone Girl and 12 Years a Slave, started off in the industry with odd jobs — from carpentry and building film sets to working as an extra — until landing his breakout role in Killing Them Softly in 2012. “A lot of what I did in the beginning was just to go out and have fun,” says the Godless star. The one thing that kept him going was his fear of nine-to-five desk jobs. Though he didn’t have a definite goal until his mid-20s, staying outdoors was definitely on his list. “I wanted to be a park ranger and a wildlife cinematographer.”
Focus on the underdog
McNairy was also part of the 2014 American period drama, Halt and Catch Fire, based in the Silicon Prarie of the 1980s. The series followed the personal computing boom of the era through the lives of a visionary, an engineer and a prodigy whose innovations is a direct threat to the corporate honchos of the day. “There were, and are so many people who didn’t become Steve Jobs. And for individuals like Jobs to succeed, you had numerous guys like these around him,” he says, calling the storyline an ‘underdog story’. How important is bringing out such lesser-known narratives into the mainstream? “It’s interesting to spread the message and encourage people to keep hope; like an attempt to change the negative into positive,” he adds.
On the anvil
This year will see two McNairy-starrer thrillers on the big screen: Destroyer with Nicole Kidman, and The Parts You Lose alongside Aaron Paul and Mary Elizabeth Winstead. The latter will see him team up with Halt and Catch Fire creator, Christopher Cantwell, who is directing. The actor has also, apparently, been roped in to star opposite the likes of Mahershala Ali and Carmen Ejogo in the third installment of crime anthology series, True Detective.

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