Scott Alda Coffey, who stars in the upcoming film The Outpost, may have blazed his own trail in the industry, but he doesn’t let that stop him from looking up to his grandfather, Alan Alda, for advice from time to time.
“(Acting) is something I’ve always said I’ve wanted to do since I was like three-years-old, and I think growing up with him (Alan Alda) and seeing what he did, I was instantly fascinated by it… I would look to him for advice on how to approach things both business-wise and craft-wise. But at the same time, I wanted to make sure that it was clear that I am my own person. I may have some similarities to him and I may be like him in a lot of ways, but I am also my own person and I am my own actor as well,” said Scott.
We can see Scott as Sergeant Michael Scusa in the military thriller The Outpost.
“It’s based on the New York Time’s best selling nonfiction book “The Outpost: An Untold Story of American Valor” by Jake Tapper. It’s about a tiny unit of US soldiers who were alone at a combat outpost called Outpost Keating, located deep in the valley of three mountains in Afghanistan. Basically this small unit had to defend themselves against an overwhelming force of Taliban fighters, which started a coordinated attack which ended up being called the Battle of Kamdesh. It was the bloodiest American battle in the Afghanistan war and this Bravo Troop, that was in the battle, ended up becoming one of the most decorated units in the 19-year conflict,” said Scott. “It’s a crazy story and I’m honored to be able to be part of telling that.”
“It’s all about everyday heroes. People rising to the challenge and facing the seemingly impossible and succeeding. It’s just a human story, and I think that’s something that most people can relate to. So I’m really really looking forward to people getting the chance to see this,” he added.
Sergeant Michael Scusa
Sgt Scusa, 22, was killed in action on October 3, 2009 in Kamdesh, Afghanistan when over 300 insurgents attacked their outpost. For his heroism, Scusa was awarded the Army Commendation Medal with “V” for Valor.
“What was really interesting, when talking with people who knew him, I also had the privilege of talking with his wife (Alyssa) as well, almost every single person I spoke to said the same exact thing just about how kind he was, how nice he was just, he always had a smile on his face. He seemed like the kind of person that everybody liked, which was really cool to be able to play someone of that caliber. But he’s also someone that has always wanted to be a soldier, this was something that he always wanted to do. And he was very very very very much a family man. He would always talk about his family, his family was everything to him.”
Scott, who is used to playing fictional characters, says playing a real person had “a lot more weight to it.” He was able to speak to some of the people who knew Sgt. Scusa so he can gain some insight into who this man was and so he can better honor him.
“One thing I noticed, especially after talking to his wife, was that, ‘okay, this is no longer just a movie, this is no longer just about my career moving forward, this is about honoring this guy and doing justice to him, to the soldiers and to this event.’ There’s a lot more weight that went into it, but it felt like it actually made me work even harder than I already was to make sure that this story was told right.”
To prepare for this role and filming, real soldiers who were there in the battle were on set to make sure that the actors were as authentic as possible.
“We actually had eight days of basic training before we started shooting with a couple of military advisors who then stayed on during shooting help make sure everything was as accurate as could be. That was a lot of work, it was a lot of shooting training, practicing shooting a gun, and practicing military tactics,” said Scott.
“They were pretty strict. They wanted to make sure that we looked like we knew what was going on. They also wanted to make sure that if something, say something went wrong with our gun or there was some slight error, that we knew from a military standpoint what to do to correct it so that we can keep going. It was really cool to have that insight, but at the same time they also understood that we weren’t really going to Afghanistan, that we were playing a part. They did want us to really know as much as we could and be as immersed in it as possible.”
Grandparents are good for giving advice, even when they aren’t asked for it, but Scott genuinely takes Alan Alda’s advice to heart. Alda served for a year at Fort Benning, and then six months in the United States Army Reserve on a tour of duty in Korea.
“One thing he was advising was to be careful with the noise of the gunfire. He really hurt his ears when he was training for the military because it’s loud. That was definitely something he like cautioned me about.”
However, most of the advice Alan gives Scott is for his acting. He says the most valuable piece of advice his grandfather gave him was to understand what the character wants in the scene and how the character is going to get it.
The Outpost streams on VOD July 3 and will also be playing in about 500 theaters across the country starting July 2 with Fathom Events.
“I definitely recommend seeing it in a theater because it’s definitely shot and made to be on the big screen, but of course, I completely understand that, given the times that may be a little difficult.”