Scott Wolf

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Because we’re a predictable species with lame tendencies, we tend to compartmentalize things. It’s an easy method for our relatively small attention spans. Nirvana, for example, was a band with 100 influences from all over to map. But, to most of us, they were “alternative.” New York City is a metropolis featuring millions of people from millions of places. Yet, when Ted Cruz spoke of my former home, he grouped the collective value system—as if all five boroughs contain a single mind.

We do this stuff with sports, with politics, with music. And, perhaps more than anything, with actors.

Once a performer stars in something long enough, that becomes both his calling card and his identity. Christopher Reeve was Superman until the day he died. Clint Eastwood is forever Dirty Harry. Phylicia Rashad is always Clair Huxtable.

And Scott Wolf remains Bailey Salinger from “Party of Five.”

Not that Scott’s complaining. He’s not. But the man’s resume is detailed, riveting, impressive. He’s done tons of film; tons of TV; currently stars in the NBC drama, “The Night Shift.” He also loves the New York Giants, Utah, his three kids and the legend of Yinka Dare (Scott is a George Washington grad).

One can follow Scott on Twitter here and Instagram here.

Scott Wolf, you are the 250th Quaz …

JEFF PEARLMAN: So I moved to L.A. and I go to Soho House. Because I wrote a book about the Lakers and someone’s interested in buying the movie rights. And I go and I feel like it’s a lot of guys my age, mid-40s, and a lot of blonde women in their mid-20s. And the guy I’m with, who I won’t name, starts showing me pictures of all the women he’s had sex with. Like, naked photos.

SCOTT WOLF: Naked photos?

J.P.: Yes, naked photos. And he’s scanning through them on his phone. “I had her, her, her.” And he’s bragging. It’s a real scene, and the guy is just trying to show off. And I wonder—is that what the scene is? If you’re me, someone unaccustomed to this, there’s a “scene.” Is that it, or a total misrepresentation?

S.W.: Um … it is a good question. And it’s probably something a lot of people wonder about. Because you see these “scenes” or, like, L.A. life depicted in movies, shows. I think a lot of people wonder if what they’re seeing is accurate, or whether it’s fictionalized.

I have to preface my answer by saying it’s been a long time. I’m married with three kids, so I’m scene-lite. But I guess my answer would be that is one of several scenes in L.A. The one I was probably most immersed in was the young 20-something scene when I first got to town. Funny enough, there was like a mainstream scene back then. There was no Soho House, but there a couple of places on Sunset Blvd. that were … quintessential L.A. scene, mainstream clubs. Not you’re 21 and you just showed up from New Jersey and you wanna hang out and have a good time with a bunch of other 21-year olds from Philly and Atlanta who want to have a good time. These were, like—one was called The Roxbury, which was given its moment of fame in “Night at the Roxbury.” And then there was a place called Bar One. When I first got to L.A. that was the establishment scene. You couldn’t get in. There were some nights I’d go … I had the disadvantage of being 21 but looking 13. So there always have been these established scenes. The Soho House was kind of developed as a scene for people … not early-20-somethines, but people who were … I have tons of friends who go to Soho House, and they’re married with kids and they’re not there showing naked pictures. They’re just there socializing and having work meetings. So in a way all the people a generation ago who were on line waiting to get in at Bar One and the Roxbury and who have done pretty well for themselves have created Soho House.

It’s a cool spot. Beautiful spot. Sick 270-degree views of the city. Beautiful bar, the food’s pretty good. I’ve been there with big groups of people for fun dinners. And it is the kind of place where you’ll always see fun people you recognize and know. So that place is one of the few that has created a scene unto itself.

But what’s funny about the whole naked picture thing is—I feel like I (laughs) … I can say we, but I’ll speak for myself. It’s a different world out there. I’ve had a couple of friends who I’ve known for 20 years … came up with as actors, two of whom got divorced recently. And I worked with both of them on different projects. And the same thing happened—they whipped out their phone, and they said, “You can’t believe what’s going on out there right now.” In particular, I think, with Tinder and these type of things. Not to date myself too much, but what I was heavy in the dating scene or the club scene in L.A., if you wanted to give someone a naked picture of yourself, you basically snapped it, brought it to a little booth at the pharmacy and then brought it to the person. So obviously that process has grown so real time and easy. You can just beam this stuff around. This one particular guy was telling me about it. And I said, “Well, show me something.” And he’s like, “No, you don’t wanna.” I said, “I do! I’ve been married 11 years, I have three little kids. You don’t know how desperately I wanna see.” (Laughs). He proceeded to show me some stuff and I have to say … “Yeah, man.”

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J.P.: To be 21 again …

S.W.: But that’s the thing. This guy’s 45. But single. Anyway, I digress with all capital letters. There was always a scene. I have to say, there was a fun scene I fell into when I was starting to work more. It wasn’t necessary a super-exclusive, Roxbury hard-to-get-into thing. But it was just this kind of swirl of people. There were a couple of club promoters at the time who had spots that were really fun to go to, and we would all migrate together to these places. There were musicians, bands, friends who were actors. I look back at it fondly, because it wasn’t a bullshitty check-out-what-I-can-get-into thing. Or how powerful or sexy or look who I’m banging. It was a legit socializing movement in L.A. I did have a moment toward the end of it. I had met a girl at one of these clubs, and it was toward the end of the night, and she seemed really cool, and I said, “Hey, we should get together.” And she said, “That would be great.” And lights are on and they’re shoving people out and I said, “You wanna give me your number?” And she said, “Well, I’ll see you next week. I hear you’re here every Wednesday.” And I was like, ugh. I’m one of those guys. And I literally never stepped foot in that place again. I refused to be that guy.

So it’s been so long since I’ve been a card-holding member of the social scene in L.A. But I do know your story is indicative of a couple of things. Every place, especially L.A., likes to have its spots. It’s exclusive spots the people who are in can feel some sense of pride and proprietary satisfaction of “I’m one of the people allowed in this place.” And as a rule, look it’s not unique to L.A. Our entire society is somewhat affected by how well you’re doing and what are you driving. But those questions rule the day in Los Angeles much more than other places in the country. And one of the guys I’m working with here on the show—he literally told the story of being in a club in L.A. the other night, and one of the first three questions is, “What car do you brag?”

J.P.: I drive a 2010 Prius. Can I get your number?

S.W.: I gotta go.

J.P.: So I guess it’s just L.A. is something different …

S.W.: That town is just pure aspiration. It is loaded from the bottom up with people who are aspiring to do one thing or the other. Whether it’s act, play music, stand-up comedy … something. That overwhelming aspirational energy puts a lot of people in position where they feel they can’t waste an opportunity to lurch themselves forward some way. To be honest, that’s why I left L.A. when I did. After the last year of the first series I did, “Party of Five,” I was going out into the scene. There’s where I was trying to meet a person to spend my life with. It’s not to say that none of the women I was meeting were that type of person. It’s just that that’s not where their minds were.

J.P.: Do you like fame? Is fame good or fame awful?

S.W.: Um, I think if you’re not looking for the wrong things from fame, it’s awesome. If you’re needing fame or wanting it to define who you are or give you a sense of value in the world, you’re screwed. But the way I’ve always looked at it is, my priority has always been to follow what I love. When I discovered acting I discovered that I loved it and that it felt very important to me. It’s easy to see the surface level of the acting career—a movie or TV show or being on Jimmy Kimmel. I don’t know if I’d use the words “saved me,” because I wasn’t in danger of dying. But this work plugged me in as a human being. I grew up in a very dysfunctional environment, so I was a very shut down person emotionally. Extremely so. And when I was a kid I had these watershed experiences. Literally watershed. Because most of them involved watching a performance that made me cry and feeling alive and connected to myself. And I felt like a full human being in those moments way more than I ever did in my day-to-day life.

J.P.: What would be an example?

S.W.: Well, there are very specific examples I can give you. The first one I remember—the very first show I was allowed to watch as a kid … I had an older brother who’s one of my best friends in the world now. But if I had a knife and his back was to me when we were 12 and 10, I’d be in prison right now. He was a very, let’s say, successful older brother. And so it was funny. When my bedtime came I always knew he and my mom would watch these different types of shows that were seemingly cool and I would hear him talk to her about a show he hadn’t been allowed to watch. And I was always forced to go to bed before those shows. At the time my bedtime was 10. I was 11, maybe 12, so what would wind up happening was I would take a corner seat in the couch in our family room and I would just get real still and quiet and hope that they forgot about me. And that I’d be allowed to watch the 10 o’clock show. Invariably my brother would say, “Scott’s still here!” and I’d have to go upstairs. Then it came time for me to have a later bedtime, and the biggest thing it meant to me was I’m gonna get to watch a show that starts at 10, and something about those shows is different. And the first one I watched was St. Elsewhere, this great old hospital show. To me, the epiphany of that was David Morse, who was among an incredible group of actors. I zoomed in on him. He’s still, in my opinion, one of the best actors working. But there was a particular story on St. Elsewhere, where David Morse’s wife was giving birth to their first child. She’s admitted to the hospital, they begin the process, and it’s a very exciting, happy thing. And then things start to go bad. I’ve talked about this episode for years—as I recall about it, there were complications, and they weren’t gonna be able to save both mother and child. And what I can’t remember exactly is if he was given the choice, and they told him what they needed to do. I think they told him they had a very good chance of saving the baby and a small chance of saving the wife. And his wife dies, and the baby survives. This all happens halfway through the episode, and it’s a devastating thing. And he’s obviously destroyed by this thing, but throughout the remainder of the episode … for him, this little newborn baby who he doesn’t know has basically taken his wife away from him. So he doesn’t go see the baby. He just can’t. He’s somehow managing to hold himself together. And all the while he hasn’t meant the baby, and has this anger and upset. And so the very last shot of the episode—it’s night, everyone has gone home, the camera is right behind the incubator. And the baby is in there. And he’s all alone in there in this big dark nursery. And it’s funny, I cannot talk about this scene without choking up. It’s crazy. This is the power of what this work can be. Thirty years later. You see something move in the background, and it’s him—David Morse, the baby’s father. And without a word spoken, he walks in, walks across the room, picks up the baby and holds him. And that’s the end of the episode. And I was a fucking puddle on this couch. And it was such a crazy moment, because I didn’t cry ever. Out of self defense I became a person who wasn’t vulnerable. And I wasn’t 6—I knew it was acting. But it still did this to me, and I’m more emotional that I’ve ever been. And I was human and alive and more emotional than I was supposed to feel.

Double Dragon publicity shot.
Double Dragon publicity shot.

J.P.: That’s amazing.

S.W.: So acting has real meaning to me. There’s the value it held in terms of the exploration of human emotional and human experience and what that can mean in terms of performing it for other people. And the second thing I felt revealed itself to me early in my studies … I was someone who could get bored easy. And this was something where I was like, “I could be doing this for the rest of my life and still be figuring it out.” And that, to me, just blew me open. I was like, “I’m in.” It felt fun, important in its own way and endless. That had me.

J.P.: I wonder if David Morse remembers that episode …

S.W.: It’s funny—I’ve never worked with him, I’ve never met him. But I was at the Erewhon Market in L.A. And in that city you see everyone everywhere. But he was the one person who stopped me in my tracks. And I was like, “Shit, do I go?” He was leaving. It wasn’t like he was looking at lima beans and I could slide up next to him. He was on his way out with all his bags. It was just a quick moment. I didn’t say anything. I figured I’d have another chance.

J.P.: Wow. You said nothing?

S.W.: I didn’t. It would have been running him down with his stuff. If the access were there more, maybe. But I feel like at some point I’ll tell him. My wife is pretty great at saying the thing you might not say to somebody. It’s easier not to say, but when you say it it can make an actual difference in a human life. It’s a remarkable thing. I’ve seen her do it and it’s amazing.

J.P.: Every now and then someone will be like, “Hey, I really liked your book.” And even though I suppose I might play it off a little, it’s thrilling. But I wonder—you’re Scott Wolf, you’re walking through Whole Foods and someone says, “I loved you on [so and so].” Do you still get a charge out of that? Or are you more like, “Um, who cares”?

S.W.: Really good question. It’s tricky. Everybody’s different. For me, I would start by saying it never sucks to hear that. It’s never a bad thing to have someone tell you they loved you. There’s still always a charge of, “That’s awesome! I don’t know that person.” I’m walking down an airport terminal, and some show or movie meant enough to that guy or that girl to say something. That’s always been really cool to me.

It’s funny, because this whole thing came full circle to me two days ago. I was thinking about work and my show now and different characters—and I realized, not that I’m not hungry for more and don’t plan on doing other things, but right out of the gates—my first major thing, “Party of Five,” really provided for a lot of people the very thing that got me into the work in the first place. You know, this thing about just touching people and giving people a genuine emotional reaction to stuff they’re watching. And at best, it’s not like you had to have lost your parents in a car accident to benefit from the emotional values of that show. You could turn around and look at your own life and, even subconsciously, be applying stuff that you’ve been put in a position to think about. Because of a show like that.

I digress. There are two facets. The psychological part that is tricky is that, for some reason, I don’t know why this is … it’s like every compliment weighs an ounce, and every insult weighs a ton. And I guess I haven’t thought enough about our psychological makeup to figure out what we do that to ourselves. But it’s like, if you read reviews of a play you did, you can read 15 that are just glowing and praise your performance, but it’s the one person who says you’re a wooden dunce—for some reason that’s the one that pings around your head all month. And it doesn’t deserve to. But for some reason it does.

It’s very easy to take the compliment and go, “Yeah, thanks” and brush it off. We don’t want to be impacted by those things. But we will make too much of a negative thing. At the end of the day I absolutely love the scope of the work that I’m lucky enough to do. I love performing characters. But if I did it in my basement, and nobody saw it, it wouldn’t be as fun. That I get to hopefully touch a bunch of different people is amazing.

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J.P.: I saw a YouTube clip of you and your co-star on a British talk show talking up “Night Shift,” and the intro was something along the lines of, “We all fell in love with him as Bailey on ‘Party of Five’ and I feel like you’ve probably heard a sentence like that no less than 865,000 times. Are you ever like, “Flippin’ hell, that was, like, 20 years ago Can someone update my resume?” Or are you like, “Great!”?

S.W.: I mean … well, look, I guess the first thing I would say is it rarely gives me a negative feeling. I guess just recently, within the last year or two, there have been moments. Like I’m about to MC a gala for this really awesome local organization in Park City this weekend. And they were digging around, trying to figure out what would be a fun intro. And I said, ”I’m fine with anything.” And the first thing they said was, “Well, maybe we’ll play the ‘Party of Five’ song.” I have to say, it was one of the few moments where I was like, “Well …” My wife in particular, I told her and she was like, “No, no, no. Enough. We have to move on.” But for me, I’m very, very, very, very fortunate that the thing that has followed me around throughout my career is something I still adore and appreciate all these years later. And have no bad feelings about. I mean, I could be being followed around by “Double Dragon,” the video game movie I did. Which was snubbed at the Oscar’s.

J.P.: You played Billy Lee in “Double Dragon.”

S.W.: (Laughs) I sure did. There could be some sort of negative association with a show or role that follows me around. Which would just be hell on earth. This isn’t that. It is crazy that after all these years there is something really indelible about that show and that character that has stayed with me. Sort of like the scene I’m talking about in. St. Elsewhere. My part on “Party of Five” became that for a lot of people—which is really cool. That’s the upside. The downside is I have a desire to be a part of telling stories and playing characters that are equally indelible as I move forward. And even though I’ve been part of some really fun shows, and I’ve thankfully been able to work since then, in fairness none of the projects I’ve done have really had that level of impact on an audience. So that one still winds up jumping out front. I don’t have any bad feelings about that. I’m really proud of that show. But it makes me want to find the next one of those in my life.

J.P.: It seems like you live in a strange world. I heard an interview with Edie Falco, where she was talking about “The Sopranos” about six years after the show ended, and she said, “I literally haven’t spoken one time to the kid who played my son.” And how weird that is. I know the clichéd, “It’ll always be a family,” but isn’t it weird from 1994-2000 you work with these people nonstop, they’re known as your family members—then life moves on. Isn’t that a weird phenomenon?

S.W.: It is—extremely. Yes. It is really weird. And if you’re successful in this business you do it dozens of times throughout your life. You become fast friends/family with these people. And it’s real. That’s not to say there aren’t examples of people who are miserable with each other but say, “We’re a family” for the camera. Most of the experiences I’ve ever had—almost every one—you just go into this kind of tent together. Where you’re building this thing and there’s this common goal and, especially with “Party of Five,” and the fact we were playing young, orphan siblings. If you’re ever gonna get one where it just hurls you toward being affectionate toward each other, that’s it. And yeah, you spend an inordinate amount of time together. An hour-long TV series, especially. The half-hour sitcom thing is different, because the hours are lighter. But when you do an hour-long drama you spend more time with classmates than friends, family, anyone outside the show. Just by nature of the hours you work and the intensity and the common sense of, “We’re all better off if we’re in this thing together.” Not to compare the two, because one is life and death and the other is entertainment, but it’s a military mindset. In the sense of, “I don’t wanna be the weak link here” and we’re all pulling for each other. There becomes real bonding that I think is most of the time very special. So then when production ends, after these people have truly been your brothers and sisters, it’s like someone just yanks the tent out from over your heads. And you’re just standing there, and all of a sudden it’s revealed, “Oh, yeah, we’re not actually brothers and sisters. We were just actors doing this thing.” But you sort of buy into a mindset that is necessary to make something great. And it’s interesting how once that thing gets lifted off of you and you move forward with life—it’s remarkable how despite the intensity and genuine affection and ties you have to these people, they just don’t mean the same once you move on to the next thing. It’s a unique thing.

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J.P.: I didn’t realize this until last night, but you were 25 when you played Bailey, and Jennifer Love Hewitt, playing your girlfriend, was only 16. Is that weird? I don’t mean in the real-world sense. I mean, is it weird being 25, your girlfriend is 16, you have scenes with her, etc …

S.W.: Well, look, so I’ve always looked very young. The upside is I never would have been able to play Bailey on “Party of Five” if I looked my age, because I was 24 at the time I was cast. And I was 25 when they cast Jennifer Love Hewitt to play my love interest on the show. And she was legit 16. Which I didn’t think too much about. At the time I … I just looked so young, I was playing this young kid. I was in it. I was in the tent, right? I wasn’t thinking too much about the details. But then we started to have intimate scenes, where they’d be kissing. And in the beginning it occurred to me it was illegal. It never came off as creepy to me, just because, I don’t know … it never felt … I wasn’t looking at it that way. It sounds weird. But I was in the tent. I was Bailey. It wasn’t like I was dating her in my regular life. We were acting. But if you really parsed it out, I was a 25-year-old guy kissing a 16-year-old girl. Which I think in every state is illegal. Am I right?

J.P.: I think you need parental permission. Jerry Lee Lewis once married a 13-year-old girl

S.W.: Oh! Right. Her mom was on set all the time. And, yeah, they signed off. But I do remember there were times where I looked around and was like, “We’re good? I’m not gonna get carted off for this scene?”

J.P.: My daughter has a friend who’s 12, and she recently left school to be home schooled to focus on acting. When you hear that sort of thing, is it “Awesome!” or “No!”

S.W.: The first thing I think is it’s a case-by-case thing. I think there are versions of that that probably work great and that the parents have a clear vision for what they want for their kids, and they’re good at home schooling. Like everything, there’s best and worst versions. The worst versions of that are scary. I mean, the odds of becoming a successful … anything is difficult. But especially in the entertainment business. It’s very tricky. When I hear of anyone that young putting all their eggs in that basket, it’s a little scary sounding. But as long as the person is … the home schooling, if that’s happening in earnest and the kid is rightly proceeding with an education … there are ways it can work. You listen to Leonardo DiCaprio—his parents took him to auditions after school. Somehow the idea of pulling a kid out of regular kid life for the microscopic chance they might be successful as an actor—I wouldn’t do it. Knowing what I know, having worked with a lot of kids … Lacey Chabert, who’s one of my favorite human beings and my little sister on “Party of Five,” she was 10 or 11 when we started, and she was a person whose career … she was on Broadway in Les Mis and was now doing a TV series—that’s a different scenario. It’s, “Are we going to shift this kid’s life to accommodate the success she already is?” That’s a different calculus. That I’m all for. If one of my kids had the opportunity to do something unique with their life, but it meant shifting schooling in some way, we’d 100 percent be game for that. But somehow the idea of saying we’re going to pull our kid out of the normal kid life just to create the opportunity for something great to happen … if you were my friend asking whether you should do that, I’d be leaning toward no. Kids only get one shot at childhood.

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J.P.: What do you do if you’re in something and you know it’s not good? You know it sucks, but you have this contract where you have to promote it. So what do you do?

S.W.: Well, thankfully I’ve had very few of those experiences. It is funny because I think a lot of people, including myself working in this industry, you’ll see a movie and it will suck so badly that you’ll think, “How did they not realize they were doing something terrible?” It’s funny, this tent analogy I go back to. People go into this tent and they drink the Kool Aid. And it’s very difficult sometimes to have real objectivity whether something is good or not. That said, I’ve had a couple of experiences—one in particular on a movie and one in particular on a TV pilot, where it became evident we were not going to be reinventing the medium with what we were up to. That there were problems, creatively and otherwise.

What I have to say is, for me, my own personal experience—I’m probably in a weird way more proud of those experiences than of anything else I’ve done. What I learned about myself in those moments was I wasn’t willing to sit back and accept the problems or accept the limitations of the thing. And in any way I had access, or anything I could influence, I was fighting my ass off to try and make it better. And in one instance, with the movie, it worked. And I wound up actually being able to … it was a small enough project where I had enough influence where I felt I kind of dragged it upward. And something that could have fallen off a cliff and been embarrassing turned out to be something I’m proud of.

J.P.: This wouldn’t be a film called “Double Dragon,” would it?

S.W.: It would not. (Laughs). Interestingly enough, it’s a movie … and I don’t want to disparage anything about it, but there were issues with it early on. But it’s a movie called, “Meet My Valentine,” on Netflix now. It’s a tiny independent movie that some Ion TV paid for it and aired it on their channel, but it’s actually getting looks at Netflix. That was one where it was a great script and I really loved the director and the writer and the guys I worked with it on. But it had the potential to fall backward quickly for various reasons. Some were production issues—like, there was zero money and zero time. So what can happen with that is it’s not necessarily we’re making something shitty. It’s just we’ve got some logistic and production things that are potentially slapping us backward creatively and not giving anyone a chance to be great. More than ever, I fought my ass off. I believed in it; in the story we were telling and the potential of the thing. I wasn’t willing to let this turn into an embarrassment.

J.P.: So are you proud of it?

S.W.: I am. It’s not a perfect movie, it’s not a perfect thing. But nothing is. And there’s great value and emotion in it. And I’ve gotten tons of feedback from people who watched it. It’s a sad movie; bittersweet. And it’s affecting people. Which gets back to why I jumped into this business. Day one of production was chaotic and sort of worst fears of what the thing could devolve into. I never fought harder, and with good partnership. The director and writer were great.

I also once did a TV pilot for some guys, and from the first day it was troubled. It was a comedy having a hard time being funny. As an actor, that’s the worst. A bad drama you can stay afloat in. But a bad comedy will just bury you. There’s no hiding in a bad comedy. And it was a sitcom that wasn’t having an easy time being funny and they were constantly re-writing. I wouldn’t have even known how to make it better. So we all did the best we could. They were re-writing the script daily, our characters kept on changing. It was the most chaotic experience I had as an actor.

Very early on, when I was doing “Party of Five,” I had a friend who got on the show, “Models, Inc.” Remember that show? And so he took a beating. He got it before he was ready. He wasn’t prepared to jump into episodic television. And the writing on the show was less than perfect, and on a show that got ridiculed for bad acting he was singled out as maybe the worst among them. And it wasn’t really fair, but I just remember watching that. And he would still have to go do press for it. And I remember feeling lucky I didn’t have to go out and say great things about something I’m embarrassed about. And 25 years later, I can say I’ve never had to do that, and I know how lucky I am.

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• Four all-time favorite New York Giants: Lawrence Taylor, Eli Manning, Phil Simms, Joe Morris.

• When you were on “Party of Five,” my friend Adrienne—big fan of the show—walked past you on the street once and said, “Hi, Scott!” then later felt dumb because she didn’t actually know you. Should she have felt dumb?: No. It happens all the time. The clichéd one is actually the most frequent one, which is, “Did we go to school together?” My favorite is when they go, “Are you Scott Wolf?” and you go, “Yeah.” And they go, “No, you’re not.” And you go, “OK, I’m not.”

• Do people say, “Hi Bailey?”: Yes. But I think they’re goofing around.

I have a friend who was on The Real World. Your wife was on The Real World. Can you make fun of her for this?: Um, yes. Within reason. She makes fun of herself for having been on the show. So that door is open. But whenever someone says, “What does your wife do?” whenever I mention she was on The Real World, I always make clear she was on the show before it was mandatory to have sex with three people in a hot tub on the first night.

• In 2001, you played “Jennifer’s Date” in Jennifer. Three memories?: The not-so-funny answer was the movie was about a woman, Jennifer Estes, who wound up dying of ALS. The Quaz Express is supposed to be way more fun, I know. But the irony is, the least-significant character name that I’ve ever been given was in one of the more significant roles I’ve ever played. Not because of its size, but because of its meaning.

• Do you consider it realistic that Donald Trump could be the next president?: I hate to admit it … he’s like a car wreck politician. You can’t help but rubberneck. You want it to go away, but you can’t help but suck down the latest morsel. Do I think there’s a realistic chance he’s our president? Oh, God … I still have to say no. And I’m a very moderate person. I’m not way out on the left or the right. I’m a best-idea-and-best-candidate-wins person. I vote Republican, I vote Democratic. But this is terrifying, that the state of our society and culture is such that this level of fear mongering is successful at this level.

• Is it true, from your first-ever commercial, you get a lifetime supply of Yoshinoya Beef Bowls?: Hahaha. I wish. That’s awesome. Do you eat those? They used to be everywhere. It’s basically fast food udon noodles. No, but I’m gonna make the phone calls. That was my first paid job as an actor. I got $250.

Barry Bonds, Rogers Clemens—Hall of Fame?: Yes. Here’s the great tragedy in my view, and probably a lot of views. These are two guys who would easily be in the Hall of Fame had they not been immersed in this other stuff. Let’s work from the assumption that they did use something at some point later in their careers, but they didn’t need to do it. It’s a heartbreaking thing. I look at Roger Clemens. I’ve had to good fortune of meeting him, and really liking him. I’ve been a huge fan. Here’s a guy in the conversation for greatest pitcher of all time. And probably got to a point where he was either going to start to decline or eventually retire, or saw a way to extend a career. And as a result of that decision—if in fact that did happen … to be one of the greatest, who worked harder than anybody, then to be defined by this … it’s just sad.

• Best movie you saw this past year?: Eh … mmm … hmmm … aw. So we have three little kids. So Alvin and the Chipmunks might be up there. (Laughs). No, I’ve got some. The Revenant, Room, The Big Short, Spotlight. I get screeners, so most of what I’ve seen were the screeners. But even if I went, these were terrific. And I loved Inside Out.