The Hollywood Forever Cemetery may be known for its late-summer screenings and concerts among the dead, but tucked away in one of its many offices sits an unsung hero of the movie industry. Scott Johnson, proprietor of Scott’s Lookalikes – Hollywood’s premiere agency for actors who want to make a living resembling someone more famous, sits behind his desk (really, just a circular table in the conference room). The “office” is decorated with knock-off award statuettes and framed photos of his clients (I could swear one looks just like Jack Nicholson – or maybe that’s Phillip Seymour Hoffman). “We’re surrounded by dead movie stars, so that’s really inspiring,” says Scott through a bright-eyed smile. His dream is to one day move the burgeoning business to its own building, but at the moment, it’s a decent working space. “I really only have to clear out once a day to make room for meetings of mourners and dead relatives, but other than that I run a successful lookalikes agency.”
Scott started out as a Macauley Culkin lookalike – before the actor grew up and got weird of course. He now carries his knowledge of professionally aping celebrities to his current venture, which employs people you would swear look just like Ryan Gosling, James Franco, Denzel Washington, and others. “Yeah, we’re surrounded by death,” he admits. “But the business is alive and well.”
Those of you equipped with a Google search engine may have just discovered that there is no agency currently in residence at Hollywood Forever, but that doesn’t make Scott’s Lookalikes any less real. The brainchild of BAFTA longlisted director Greg Ash, it is a new Internet comedy series that delves into the comedic side of the celebrity lookalike industry – as if there was another side altogether. Ash plays the hapless Scott Johnson, a British import who has relocated to Los Angeles with dreams of building up a roster of “I could swear [s]he’s famous” clients. Shot in the mockumentary tradition of The Office or Parks and Rec, each episode features Scott meeting with a new celebrity lookalike. The first three spotlight a reluctant Ryan Gosling, a clueless James Franco, an unstable Denzel Washington soundalike, and a Jonas Brother who hasn’t yet realized he’s yesterday’s news.
Ash, whose 2012 web series “Super Chill” was chosen in the Independent Pilot Selection of the New York TV Festival, is a huge fan of British comedy in the vein of Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant. “The Office is the show that first made me want to make comedy,” he admits. “Doing a ‘mockumentary’ inevitably means it’s always going to be in your thoughts. But the hope is you create something that’s unique in its own right.” And he takes that passion all the way with his portrayal of Scott, a character who is as woefully clueless as he is wryly funny. I actually got a chance to sit down with Ash (in character as Scott) to ask him a little more about the agency and the show’s future.
Where would you like Scott’s Lookalikes to go in the next 5 years?
I don’t want it to go anywhere. I want to stay in Hollywood. Perhaps by then my office won’t be in a cemetery as it is now. But who knows, maybe people will have invented a cure for most illnesses in 5 years and there will be less people dying, so it might not be an issue.
Who are your biggest moneymaking clients?
The big ones right now are Kim Kardashian (I sometimes call her Kim KarKASHian) and Justin Bieber, although if the real Justin Bieber keeps on the way he’s going, then the lookalike isn’t going to have a career in a year.
Are there any Lookalikes you haven’t signed yet that you want to?
There are so many clients I want to sign. This is the early stages. The aim is to have a lookalike for every celebrity ever. That’s not as many as you think. Sometimes clients can look like 2 or even 3 different people at once. I love my 3-for-1’s!
Can we expect to see more episodes of Scott’s Lookalikes in the near future?
There’s one about my Kim and Kanye Lookalikes lined up, but other than that I’d love to have the film students [documenting the show] record some more episodes if it raises the profile of my business. I believe all publicity is good publicity – unless you’re Justin Bieber.
Don’t forget to watch the first three episodes of Scott’s Lookalikes and tune into Scott’s website and Facebook page as his business continues to expand. Let us know what you think of Scott and his clients in the comments below.