Scott Glenn on Realizing He Wanted to be an Actor: “For the first time my life made sense to me”

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“To a certain extent, I think every actor probably, whether they intend to or not, uses whatever experiences they’ve had in their lives.” – Scott Glenn

Actor Scott Glenn has appeared in supporting roles in some major classics of American cinema, including Nashville, Apocalypse Now, The Right Stuff, The Hunt for Red October, and The Silence of the Lambs, among many other films. He recently starred in the film Greenland, about the Earth facing an approaching comet that threatens to destroy the planet. Glenn spoke to New York Daily News about his career, revealing that he became an actor almost by happenstance.

Unlike many actors who say they aspired to be performers since an early age, Glenn didn’t have an inkling that he wanted to be an actor until his late twenties, when he took acting classes on a friend’s recommendation to help with his writing. Glenn remembers, “I stood in front of about 11 people and started to open my mouth and literally, for the first and only time in my life, it was like a light bulb went off between my eyes. I thought, holy s–t, I’m an actor. It wasn’t like a big epiphany of creative joy and juices or anything like that. It was just that for the first time my life made sense to me. It happened that fast.”

Like his character in Greenland, Dale, Glenn is a military veteran. He drew on that experience, remarking, “To a certain extent, I think every actor probably, whether they intend to or not, uses whatever experiences they’ve had in their lives. So yeah, it was the Marine Corps, and growing up in Pittsburgh, and whatever things have happened, good and bad, in my life to lead me to this point.”

After that, Glenn has had a remarkable career since his big screen debut in 1970, which he credits to luck. He explains, “I didn’t plan on being in classic films, great American films, like Nashville or Apocalypse Now or The Right Stuff. All that stuff just wound up sitting on my lap, so in that way I just feel really, really lucky, I never stopped writing poetry. That part of my life is still alive and challenging me every day.”

Perhaps that is why Glenn sees his acting as more of something fun that he enjoys rather than his job. He says, “Every birthday I have my daughters always ask me the same question,” Glenn said, “which is, ‘Dad, what are you going to be when you grow up?’”

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