Every once in a while there comes along a film that changes the game for other films of its genre, this time it’s Maggie Carey’s comedy The To Do List. In the world of comedy, The To Do List travels back in time to 1993, and flips the script on the usual raunchy tone for a new perspective. Focusing on a female protagonist, the outrageous comedy centers around recent high school graduate Brandy (Aubrey Plaza), who prides herself on just saying no to everything. After her friends drag Brandy to her first house party, she becomes hell-bent on getting the attention of a man named Rusty Waters, who is described as having the body of Marky Mark.
Brandy’s task turns quickly into a goal oriented list of sexual activities she needs to conquer before losing her virginity to the object of her desire. From then on we see half a dozen firsts, one more embarrassing and awkward than the last. While everyone is talking about the masturbation scene, a highlight for us shows Brandy hilariously using popcorn oil for lubrication during a hand job in a movie theater.
With all the effort that goes into Brandy’s journey to get herself some experience we decided to sit down with the one and only Rusty Waters. Actor Scott Porter who’s known for his roles in Friday Night Lights, The Good Wife, and now Hart of Dixie, plays the amateur musician to grab Brandy’s attention.
Playing probably the most outrageous stereotype of the 90s, Porter spoke to The Inquisitr’s Niki Cruz about his 90s memories, his high school experience, and how he embodied the babe-a-licious Rusty Waters.
THE INQUISITR: How did you become involved with the project?
SCOTT PORTER: I was doing a film called Ten Years, about a ten-year high school reunion with a huge ensemble cast. Aubrey Plaza was one of the actresses on the movie. We hit it off really well and on the last day of production she dropped the script for the The To Do List off in my trailer. She knocked on my door, dropped it, and in her very Aubrey way said, ‘Here’s a movie, read it, you’re going to do it with me.’ Then she left and shut the door.
THE INQUISITR: What was your first impression of the script?
PORTER: I read the script and thought it was incredibly smart. Maggie Carey had such passion and vision for the film that nobody wanted to say no. They got everyone they wanted to play all of these roles, which was pretty cool. We knew going in that we weren’t going to make any money, but at the same time we didn’t care because it was going to be a lot of fun and hopefully turn into something really special.
THE INQUISITR: For such a 90s movie it has a great feminist twist on it.
PORTER: I don’t understand why it has taken Hollywood so long to get to this point. It’s kind of funny. Maggie says that she didn’t realize she was writing it that it was going to be heralded as a feminist film. It’s loosely based on her experiences but it’s from the eyes of a girl who just wants to get laid, which is a very regular thing. It’s funny that it’s taken Hollywood so long to accept this.
THE INQUISITR: It doesn’t get talked about or shown enough in films. You have the Superbad’s but you don’t have the female twist on that.
PORTER: Yeah but luckily now it’s coming more to the forefront. I don’t think we set out to make a message movie. We set out to make a movie about this rite of passage and it just so happens to be from the perspective of a female. Everyone goes through it, and it doesn’t matter if you’re male or female. You’re going to see parts of this film that you can connect with. What’s funny is that I think a lot of teenagers nowadays may miss some of the jokes in this film, but I think all of the adults in the audience are going to get the jokes in the film, because they’ve been through these experiences.
THE INQUISITR: Where did you pull your inspiration from when you play a character named Rusty Waters? He had a little bit of Axl Rose meets Sebastian Bach in there.
PORTER: [LAUGHS] I was reading the script on page 20, and Brandy goes, ‘Who is that?’ And the next few words said it all. Camera angle on Rusty Waters, grunge rock lifeguard, the hair of Kurt Cobain and the body of Marky Mark. So that’s what I dove myself into. It said a lot to me who this guy really was. He still kind of had a narcissism about him. Normally with those types of guys they have insecurities. Guys who worked that hard to fit in had really deep insecurities, and I think you can kind of see that towards the end of the film. He’s not this untouchable Adonis. I was very attracted to that.
THE INQUISITR: How was wearing the wig?
PORTER: The wig was a process. It had to be anchored in a hell of a lot more than regular wigs, just because I had to go in the water so much. We had to really make sure that thing wasn’t moving. I had a couple of headaches throughout the filming process but it was more than worth it. I was talking with Bill Hader, and I said at one point, ‘I kind of just let the wig do all the work’ [LAUGHS]. Hader turned to me and said, ‘Well that’s the rule on Saturday Night Live, let the wig do all the work.’ That kind of felt the same way.
THE INQUISITR: What was your high school experience like? Were you a jock?
PORTER: I was a crossover guy. I wasn’t voted prom king or to student government, but I was friends with everyone. I didn’t belong to any cliques but I wasn’t hated on by anybody. Everybody knew who I was because I was on the football team and I was also in chorus, so I was a little bit of a nerd too. I’d go to the play off game and then I’d sing the national anthem under my helmet. After we would get out I’d drive so I could compete at All-State chorus competitions.
THE INQUISITR: Being a kid of the 90s I recognized a lot of staple things from the film. Is there anything you recognized as having from your own childhood that was in the film?
PORTER: Yeah there’s a ton of throwback stuff in the film for me. The baja poncho. I wore one of those to school every day, and I’m talking about in the heat of Florida. I thought I was so f–king cool. The phone lines. When you were a teenager in the early 90s, it was almost like you had a scheduled time to be on the phone with your friends, because there’s only one phone line and no one had cell phones. There was never a fight more ferocious than who got to use the phone. Kids nowadays would never understand. I was given my private phone line and that was the biggest deal.
THE INQUISITR: Both Aubrey Plaza and Donald Glover came from UCB, and Bill’s of course from SNL. How was it going into that environment?
PORTER: I was scared sh-tless going in, but we didn’t have a ton of time to improv. We only had a 23-day shoot. It was pretty much a dead sprint. I think I was probably nervous on my first day. My first day was at the pool with Bill Hader and Donald Glover, and Aubrey Plaza, and they riffed a little bit but included me very quickly and I held my own. That kind of set the tone for me for the rest of the filmmaking process. They were so accepting which I was worried about. I thought, you know, ‘These guys are pros and they might look down on a rookie’ but nobody did. They were really incredible.
THE INQUISITR: You’re in Hart of Dixie right now. How do you like working in television?
PORTER: I love doing the show. It’s really a unique show in that it’s a romantic comedy on television. There’s not many hour-long romantic comedies on TV. You can just watch, smile, and laugh along with it. A lot television shows are very aggressive, or are all trying to push the envelope but we’re not, we’re light, and that isn’t a bad thing nowadays. I’m really glad to be on it. I really love working in the world of television. I really love working in the world of film too. Hopefully one day I’ll get back to working in theater. Staying as versatile as possible is really important to me. It’s important to tell stories.
THE TO DO LIST IS OUT IN THEATERS TODAY.