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Sheila Scott is feeling shaky yet humbled. The mother of two admits that she’s still navigating through the tragedy of losing her son Luke Scott, on Oct. 1, 2016, at the age of 23. And then, Sunday night, she was enjoying a quiet, if not reflective, night at home with her husband (a colorist at The Mill) when Billy Bob Thornton took the stage at the Beverly Hilton to accept a Golden Globe for his work on Amazon Studios’ drama Goliath.
Sheila knows that Thornton, a veteran actor and star of a hit show, could’ve picked any number of people to thank in his acceptance speech but he chose to dedicate the trophy to a beloved colleague — Luke, her son. The two had worked together during Luke’s tenure as a production assistant from March to July 2016, and while it was a brief run, Luke’s influence on his colleagues was anything but.
The London-born Luke had amassed an impressive résumé during his time in Los Angeles, with credits including Pan, Supergirl, Goliath and most recently the indie feature Wheelman. He loved his Goliath family, worked closely on several jobs with Berlanti Prods.’ Sarah Schechter and brightened every room with his giant grin, as mentioned by Thornton. But his interests spread far beyond Hollywood. His mother says he loved horses, traveling, “boy stuff” and bringing joy to his family and friends. Something that still brings her joy: His nickname, “Unicorn,” coined by the Goliath crew because of of his rare, if not one-of-a-kind, talents.
On Monday afternoon, Sheila talked to The Hollywood Reporter about Thornton’s golden gesture and how their tight-knit English family is also honoring Luke’s memory.
Were you watching the Golden Globes on Sunday night?
No, I was lying on my bed listening to BBC Radio 4’s The Archers, a radio drama that’s been going on before I was born. My phone started to blow up with texts asking me if I was watching the show. I thought, “What is going on?” because the last time my phone went off like that something terrible had happened. The messages let me know what had happened — that Billy Bob had accepted the award on behalf of Luke. I went into the other room to find my husband and we were both put into quite a state of shock and delight with a lot of tears. Luke has a tribute page on Facebook, which my youngest son (George, 21) had set up, and within minutes, someone posted (a video of Billy Bob’s speech) and we watched it there. It’s amazing because all we ever want to do is be seen, and one of the billion things a mother wants for her son is to be recognized for how good he is at his job and what a good heart he has. Billy did that so graciously. Of all the things he could be thinking of when he went up there, he thought of Luke.
What was Luke like as a son and as a person?
He had a large presence. He stood 6’3” with a giant mane of hair and a giant grin. He loved his job. He was good at his job, knew he was good at it and he loved it. He was always cheerful. He was happy and kind and really good at getting it done, always doing that little bit of extra every time. He got lots of adulation, and people would always come up to us and tell us they could tell that he wasn’t from around here.
Had you met Billy Bob before?
Yes, I met him at Luke’s birthday in June. I liked to go on set to watch Luke run around, with people asking him questions and him giving answers. And he loved Billy Bob, who is a delightful man and just hilarious. So smart and so charming and he and Luke were very tight. They talked soccer and had this whole thing going on.
How did Luke die?
Well, like so many families, we are still waiting for the medical examiner’s full report, but it’s safe to say that he’s another victim of the opioid epidemic sweeping America.
Did you know he had a problem?
I knew he had a (substance) problem and we had worked on it before, but I had no idea about the opioids. We got to the point where he was highly functioning, I suppose. I stepped back and kept doors open if and when he was ready he could come through. He could come to me. I would wait up at night; I’d be here at night, waiting for him to talk. Sometimes we’d go outside and have a cigarette and chat. I had no idea it had gotten to this point. I knew he had an addictive tendency, but he didn’t quite yet and that was the problem. He was young and maybe he thought he could deal with this later, on some level. It’s a cunning, baffling and powerful disease.
What have these months been like without him?
At the time, he was away shooting a movie in Boston, Wheelman. He was loving it, shooting nights and running around set. The movie is about a getaway driver so there are lots of stunts and cars, and that was him. He was a real boy. He’d call me on the way to work every day. He was living at home with us at the time but left for the film and had been gone about three weeks when we got the phone call that he was dead. With the help of our very good friends, we were able to fly to Boston immediately where we had a cremation and a memorial there on Oct. 8. It was absurdly well-attended. And then we went to London and took his ashes there for family and friends in London for another service on Oct. 13. We did it all over again at Hollywood Forever cemetery. People came from England and people walked off set so they could attend, since it was on a Friday (Oct. 21). Billy Bob was there and so was William Hurt, who told me that he’d been in the industry a long time, and when he got on set and saw Luke’s smiling face, he knew everything would be all right. Luke really had a fragile soul.
What do you hope people remember about Luke Scott?
It’s so lovely that he’s remembered for being so generously spirited, and so wonderful that he is recognized for doing such a good job. It was very gracious of Billy to mention him and we’re hoping to make the best of his absence. We’ve set up a foundation in his memory and we’re figuring out the best place for those contributions. I will make something for him. Losing Luke has left a huge hole in our family and I will find a way to do good on this. I won’t stop.
For more information on how to help the Scott family pay tribute to their son, Luke Scott, visit the GoFundMe page.
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