Nice Guy: Scott Foley

After a guest stint on Dawson’s Creek as a high-school jock, Scott Foley gave adolescent girls reason to look forward to dorm life as the dreamy resident adviser Noel Crane on Felicity. He’s now starring in the Atlantic Theater Company’s new adaptation of The Cherry Orchard. Emma Rosenblum spoke with him about the awkward switch from TV to theater and Felicity’s choice of Ben over Noel.

How did you get involved in the play?
Chekhov’s not the usual follow-up to a show on the WB. To tell you the truth, I got a call from my manager, who said, “The Atlantic Theater Company’s doing The Cherry Orchard,” and I said, “Great … what’s The Cherry Orchard?” But I read the play—Tom Donaghy did a new adaptation—and it made sense to me, which surprised me, because everyone said, “Ach, Chekhov, he’s never writing about what he really means. They’re talking about the weather, but they’re not really talking about the weather.”

They’re talking about the decline of the Russian aristocracy, blah, blah, blah.
Right. I’m glad you know that—I didn’t. But the adaptation, to me, is, um, simplistically complicated. I got it.

Is it intimidating working with seasoned theater actors?
Well, I never went to theater school, so I’m not as familiar with great works of theater. Larry Bryggman, who’s also in the show, will say something like, “I was at A.R.T. 40 years ago …” I can’t compete with that. I have stories where I can say, “Ahhh, I was on the set of Felicity …” It’s just not the same.

But you got the role.
Yes—Tetya Trofimov, a student whose looks are made fun of throughout the play. I didn’t think they were going to give me the part.

Because I’m known as a leading man, and to audition for the zhlub is a stretch. So I spent two weeks in rehearsal trying to convince everyone that I was this unattractive schmuck. [Pause] And I think it worked.

Were you looking to do theater over TV?
I wish I was at a point where I could say, “Yes, I have a preference,” but I don’t yet. TV’s been very kind to me.

Yes, I know. I’ve followed your career …
Really? Felicity?

Obsessively. Die-hard. I always wanted her to end up with Noel.
You and everyone I’ve ever met. I do understand why she ended up with Ben, but I have lost many a night’s sleep over it.

And on Dawson’s Creek, I always wanted Joey to end up with Dawson.
Well, Josh Jackson is one of my best friends, so I’m always going to go the Pacey route. I just saw Josh; he was in New York for his sister’s graduation from NYU. Four years ago, we moved her into the dorms—Felicity was still on, Dawson’s was still on—and can you imagine being her roommate? Noel and Pacey walk in carrying boxes? Josh’s sister was the most popular girl in her dorm for a while, to say the least.

In The Cherry Orchard
At The Atlantic Theater Company through July 3

Nice Guy: Scott Foley