Scott Bakula has played a time-traveling hero in “Quantum Leap,” Captain Jonathan Archer in “Star Trek: Enterprise,” and Special Agent in Charge in “NCIS: New Orleans,” but his biggest role over the last 30 years has been as one of Hollywood’s most renowned, underappreciated talents. Bakula is noted for portraying strong, compassionate heroes with a twinkle in their eyes and comedy, charm, and melancholy.
On “Leap,” the multi-talented actor took on a different identity each week, solving problems and righting wrongs before leaping into another life to do it all over again. Week after week, the amusing sci-fi series acquired a devoted fan base and showed Bakula’s various talents.
Bakula is a lot of things, but he isn’t Dracula. Scott Bakula may be atop television’s Mount Rushmore of powerful, sensitive leading men, but how well do you know him?
Some celebrities, like Tom Cruise’s center tooth or Megan Fox’s toe thumb, have physical eccentricities that aren’t immediately obvious yet can’t be ignored. Scott Bakula is also there.
He’s known for his rugged, old-fashioned good looks, mop-like hair, and a white streak over his brow before it greyed.
Bakula stated in a 2010 Vulture interview to promote “Men Of A Certain Age” that he had the streak since he was four years old and had a moniker due to it.
“I had a white stripe in the front of my hair,” he explained. “I got references to ‘grandpa,’ skunk, and stinky, as well as Dracula.”
Despite the obnoxious moniker, he thinks the white streak aided him.
“I went through hell,” he admitted in 2002. “It did, however, strengthen me. It gave Bakula a particular aesthetic that fans have come to appreciate.” His white streak has a Facebook page.
Scott Bakula’s long career in television and cinema was not always planned. “I never wanted to be on television or in a movie,” he said in 2008. “My first love is theater.”
Bakula, originally from St. Louis, moved to New York at 22 to pursue a career in theater. Seven years later, in “Marilyn: An American Fable,” he played Joe DiMaggio. In Los Angeles and Boston, “Three Guys Naked From The Waist Down” and “Nightclub Confidential” followed. “Romance/Romance,” a 1988 Broadway musical in which he played Alfred, a wealthy playboy who falls in love while posing as a poet.
Bakula’s theatrical abilities won him performances at Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center Honors, and the Hollywood Bowl. He voiced Danny the Cat in Warner Bros.’s animated musical “Cats Don’t Dance” in 1997. Bakula participated in the 2007 musical “No Strings!” in Los Angeles.
Bakula rose to prominence in the mid-1980s with roles in “Marilyn: An American Fable,” “Three Naked Guys,” and “Nightclub Confidential,” all of which starred his wife, Krista Neumann. Bakula’s agent, Maggie Henderson, suggested he audition for television.
“I gained some traction, and then, fortunately, I did a Disney Sunday Night ABC movie that was due out in the winter.” “It was time to go,” he said in an interview with “Sciography: Quantum Leap” in 2000. “My concert was a success here. It got a lot of attention, so I joined “Designing Women” early on and performed the pilot and a few regular roles. But I waited and waited and finally got this show.”
On New Year’s Day 1986, he was cast in the short-lived TV adaptation of Michael Keaton’s “Gung Ho” in Los Angeles. In “Romance/Romance,” he was nominated for a Tony. He earned the role that would make him famous after returning to Los Angeles: Sam Beckett in “Quantum Leap.”
During the writers’ strike, he returned to New York and performed in a Broadway musical. “I returned with ‘Quantum.’ So I assumed the company would locate me.”
Scott Bakula rarely appears in paparazzi photographs, the back pages, or the gossip section because he dislikes self-promotion.
“Nowadays, the world is full of people who want to be famous,” he observed in 2017. “That’s nice, but I’ve never been interested.”
Bakula is a quiet actor who avoids discussing his personal life in interviews.
“People Magazine wants to interview me at my house for a hundred million years,” he claimed when promoting “NCIS: New Orleans” in 2016. “Where do you draw the line?”
Scott Bakula and Neumann had two children before divorcing in 1995 and marrying actress Chelsea Field in 2009. Chelsy, his daughter who dated Prince Harry, is aspiring to be an actress.
Bakula jokes that he isn’t a bigger celebrity since he doesn’t advertise himself. “That is my professional issue!”
Bakula moved to Los Angeles with his then-wife and daughter to pursue a career in television. Although “Quantum Leap” was a career-launching role, playing in an hour-long weekly drama takes time, so he was away from home for most of its five-year run.
Bakula admits that the incident impacted his wife and children. He regretted missing his daughter’s “formative years” in 2015 and resolved to prioritize. “It took me a long time to find out how I felt about our relationship,” he admitted. “It takes effort and focuses on staying present in a marriage.”
Bakula avoided making the same mistakes he had made in the past during the lengthy discussions to join “Star Trek: Enterprise” in 2001.
“I had it written into my contract that I would be done by six o’clock every Wednesday so I could be home for supper,” Bakula, who was married to Field, says. I coached my sons’ baseball and soccer teams.
“Playgirl” features Scott Bakula, who has starred in famous TV shows.
“Quantum Leap” viewers will recall that he sometimes took off his shirt once per episode, but the legendary beefcake magazine went far further.
Bakula has been proud of his LGBTQ fanbase since his March 1995 “Playgirl” cover. He played a gay Hollywood producer in Steven Soderbergh’s 2013 Liberace film “Behind the Candelabra,” introducing Matt Damon’s character to Liberace (Michael Douglas), with whom he had a long relationship. “Looking,” an HBO LGBT series, cast Bakula as Lynn a year later.
Bakula discussed LGBTQ support in a 2014 “Out Magazine” interview. I’ve always had gay fans. “Thanks,” he said. I’m glad for my career, which has allowed me to do many things and reach many groups. We think we’re universal, can move freely, and be accepted as performers.”
Bakula’s “Quantum Leap” character Sam Beckett was more than a hero; he was a realistic everyman driven by morality. Bakula appears to be a real-life Sam Beckett.
Bakula, one of Hollywood’s nicest people, has only been criticized for his thick New Orleans accent on “NCIS.” “If the worst thing that can be said about you in Hollywood circles is how awful an accent you can whip up, then you must be doing something well,” claimed one critique.
Bakula told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in 2014 that he was writing a New Orleans native without an accent. “We’re tweaking my voice.”
In a 2021 visit on pal Bob Saget’s podcast “Here For You,” the two recalled an event on the set of the legendary “Leap” episode “Stand-Up” (Season 4, Episode 21), in which Saget guest starred. Saget claims that Bakula may have saved a co-life star by shouting “cut” during a scene when he saw a knife blade protruding from a set part that an actor could have tripped on. Bakula fixed things like his character Sam Beckett.
It’s nice to think wonderful things happen to good people, but Scott Bakula hasn’t always been successful in his roles.
Bakula auditioned for “Saturday Night Live” but bombed so terribly that he kept it a secret for years.
After “Star Trek” stardom in the late ’60s, William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy both had infamous, half-baked music careers. Unlike Kirk and Spock, Bakula was a gifted singer, songwriter, and theatrical actor before Hollywood. Bakula calls music, like theater, his “first love” and plays piano and sings regularly.
In 2008, Bakula played the piano and sang “Once Upon a Time” to Candice Bergen in a “Boston Legal” episode with William Shatner. He sang, danced, and played piano in multiple “Quantum Leap” episodes, including creating and performing all the songs in “Piano Man” (Season 3, Episode 15). Dwayne Pride plays piano on “NCIS: New Orleans” occasionally.
Because of my lifelong love of music, filming “NCIS” at jazz’s birthplace was thrilling. “As a musician, to be in the area where jazz was founded is astounding all the time,” he said in 2020. Despite his talent, Bakula says he needs more piano practice.
“I’m not as good as I’d want,” he joked in 2020. “I’m a hack. New Orleans especially.”
The multi-talented actor has done much in his decades-long career, but a long-running success eluded him until recently.
“Quantum Leap” ran for nearly five years, but NBC kept it on the air largely because it believed in it, even showing it every night for a week in primetime twice. After its first season, “Star Trek: Enterprise” struggled to find viewers and was perpetually on the verge of cancellation. By 2005, Bakula was starring in two popular programs that had ended with 97 episodes (“Leap”) and 98 episodes (“Bakula”) (“Enterprise”).
When Bakula joined “NCIS: New Orleans” in 2014, the procedural drama finally propelled him over the 100-episode mark, but not without some tense moments for the series actor and producer.
Bakula doubted he’d survive the show’s 100th episode. He revealed in 2018 that he was superstitious about reaching 100. Of course, two days before we almost finished our 100th episode, Katrina was heading up the Gulf and headed for New Orleans. “This is crazy. It’s going to knock down the studio, we’re going to have floods, and I’m still not going to get to a hundred!”
Bakula’s worry proved unfounded, as he doubled his episode totals. The 155-episode “NCIS: New Orleans” ended in May 2021.
Scott Bakula starred in several fan-favorite franchises. Bakula respects his followers’ tradition of embracing him without surrounding him.
Bakula attends “Star Trek” and “Quantum Leap” events, appears in documentaries about his series, and meets his fans. “Having been in the sci-fi industry for many years now, I am never shocked that people have such emotional relationships with these shows,” he stated in a 2012 interview. “Immersion is part of being a fan. People exhibit their love in many ways.”
Bakula told Bob Saget on his podcast in 2021 that he was “very much” a Trekkie before his Roddenberry role.
He understands and appreciates his fans’ fanaticism because he was a fan growing up.
Since Season 3, Chelsea Field has played Rita Devereaux, Dwayne Pride’s old acquaintance in New Orleans. Their professional relationship became more personal when she appeared, and their chemistry may be because the actress is Bakula’s wife.
Bakula’s work/life balance improved in 2020 when Fields joined the main cast.
At the start of 2020, the COVID-19 epidemic began, threatening Bakula’s ability to film the last season in New Orleans. Fields moved to be with her boyfriend once the producers promoted her to a main cast member.
Bakula said about Rachael Ray in 2018, “I adore working with her.” “She makes me a better actress because she works more intensely and thoroughly than I do… when you’re working with your wife, it’s fairly great.”
The series and Bakula and Field ended happily a year later. In May 2021, “NCIS: New Orleans” ended with Dwayne Pride and Rita Devereaux marrying, with Bakula and Field saying “I Do” again. We watched it this time.