All the World Is Scott Anderson’s Stage

Anderson shows off his 1909 Model T Ford. This is the vehicle he's currently driving in the centennial re-run of the Peking to Paris Motor Rally. He left Beijing on May 27 and plans to reach Paris on June 30.
Anderson shows off his 1909 Model T Ford. This is the vehicle he’s currently driving in the centennial re-run of the Peking to Paris Motor Rally. He left Beijing on May 27 and plans to reach Paris on June 30.

Whether it’s skiing to the South Pole, driving a 1909 Model T from Beijing to Paris, or writing, directing and starring in a modern-day film adaptation of Shakespeare’s ‘Richard III,’ to do or not to do is never the question for Scott Anderson. In fact, he’s pursued all these activities–and more–while maintaining his full-time work as a top veterinary surgeon in Los Angeles. ‘I figure you only go around once, so why not take the opportunities life presents,’ Anderson says matter-of-factly. His modest, low-key manner belies an incredibly bold, seize-the-moment spirit. He and his wife, Dr. Lisa Brevik Anderson, also a veterinarian, live with their two sons Paul, 8, and Erik, 5, in the Huntington Palisades. ‘I think it’s about taking that first step. It’s easy to convince yourself not to try something.’ As a longtime fan of Shakespeare, and of ‘Richard III’ in particular, Anderson originally wrote his screenplay three years ago with no intention other than enjoying the creative exercise. He saw the play as well suited to an alternative version of present-day L.A., where rival studios, instead of rival branches of the royal family, drive the plot. He even uses the Bard’s original dialogue and archaisms. ‘Part of Shakespeare’s brilliance is that his characters and dialogue are timeless’endlessly adaptable to each passing century,’ Anderson says. Then the idea occurred to follow the low-budget route and direct and produce the film himself. ‘Why not?’ he remembers thinking. ‘When will I ever have another chance?’ Anderson reached the same conclusion when pondering whom to cast in the lead. ‘Having never directed before, I was unsure I would be able to direct someone to create Richard as I’d envisioned the character,’ he explains about taking on the role of Richard himself. Anderson hired a coach and took private acting lessons for a year. One of the triumphs of the film, made under the SAG Ultra-Low Budget parameters and financed by Anderson and a few associates, was the talent it attracted, including David Carradine, Sally Kirkland and Maria Conchita Alonso. The film was shot in three weeks, the only time Anderson took off as head of the Animal Surgical and Emergency Center, a 24-hour clinic, on Sepulveda Blvd. ‘I don’t think you can really grasp just how much time is involved wearing all those hats until you do it,’ says Anderson about his first foray into the film world. The film, titled ‘Shakespeare’s Richard III,’ is off to a good start, winning top honors as first feature at the Houston International Film Festival in April. Anderson is optimistic about acceptance at other film festivals and finding a distributor. In the meantime, his focus has dramatically shifted to another pursuit: driving his 1909 Model T Ford in the centennial re-run of the Peking to Paris Motor Rally. The competition, first staged in 1907, began in Beijing last Sunday and concludes with a parade and celebration in Paris on June 30. Nearly 140 antique and classic cars will travel a prescribed route through Mongolia, across Siberia, up to Moscow and St. Petersburg, then down through the Baltic States before heading to Paris. ‘The car has been refurbished and repaired and we hope will survive the 8,000 miles,’ said Anderson before departing from Los Angeles with his co-driver, fellow veterinarian Dr. Rob Fisher. ‘Otherwise, we’ll be hitchhiking from Mongolia.’ This isn’t Anderson’s first extreme adventure. In 2003, he slogged on cross-country skis in minus 40-degree temperatures for seven days before reaching the South Pole with a small group of adventurers. In his never-a-dull-moment universe, he’s planning another ski trip, this time to the North Pole in 2008. Anderson’s wife is a kindred spirit when it comes to travel and adventure, and he has little doubt his sons will follow in the same footsteps. ‘My family is wonderfully supportive,’ he says. A native of Virginia and graduate of Virginia Tech, Anderson moved to Los Angeles in 1986. His father worked with the overseas branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, so much of his youth was spent in foreign countries, first Liberia and later Ecuador. ‘I think this laid the groundwork,’ he says. ‘It put me in the mind set of experiencing the world and seeing what’s out there.’