Ari Stidham chats about CBS’s “Scorpion”

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Scorpion is loosely based on the life of real life genius and computer expert Walter O’Brien.  In the series, O’Brien (Elyes Gabel) and his genius friends are  recruited by Homeland Security as a line of defense to solve complex global high-tech threats and save lives. This team of brilliant misfit prodigies consists of O’Brien’s best friend and genuis statistician Sylvester Dodd (Ari Stidham) aka “The Human Calculator”,  Happy Quinn (Jadyn Wong) aka “mechanical prodigy”, and Toby Curtis (Eddie Kaye Thomas) a “world-class shrink”. Paige Dineen (Katharine McPhee) is a former waitress whose intuitive interaction with people translates the real world to the team.  Ari Stidham is here to chat with Eclipse Magazine about his role as Sylvester and this amazing show.

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The multitalented California native Ari Stidham gravitated to the stage at an early age, starring in numerous elementary and youth based musical and theatre productions.  He was then invited to perform with the prestigious American Conservatory Theater (ACT) program in San Francisco.

His breakout role was as Ian Schonfeld in “Huge”.  From then on, his acting career took off.  His tv credits include “The Crazy Ones” with the late Robin Williams, “Mike and Molly”, and “Glee” to name a few.  Ari Stidham truly is prime time television’s accidental leading man.  In addition to acting, he is also a writer, producer, and music composer.  He does standup and improv in his spare time.    He is THE “one to watch”!

Ari Stidham in "Huge"

Hi Ari! How are you doing today?


Congratulations on “Scorpion” getting picked up for season two! That’s exciting, and it’s such a good show!

Yes, I’m really excited too. It’s great to be employed.

Employment is always a good thing!  (laughing) So tell us–how did you get involved in this show as Sylvester Dodd?

I auditioned for it.  I had a pretty clinical beginning to my involvement.  The audition happened pretty quick which was the weird part about it.  I auditioned and I got it.

That’s awesome!  Regarding Sylvester Dodd, what is the favorite part of playing this character?

Sylvester is a statistical genius.  He has high anxiety and intense OCD. I have a lot of fears and phobias.  I am not 100% like him, but I do share anxiety with him.  That helps me get into character. It’s sort of saying, “Sure anxiety, cripple me further!” The cameras reap the benefits.

Is the anxiety and the OCD the main characteristics of Sylvester you see in yourself?  

Yes, the anxiety.  I’m definitely not a genius. I’m afraid of a lot that will kill me but I’m not afraid of flying an airplane, or at least not too bad.  I’m not afraid of swimming or boats.

What about the fashion style?

Sometimes I’ll rock a sweater vest but not as much.. I’d say 15%.

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As we go from season 1 to season 2, do you think we will see a lot of changes in the character arc for Sylvester?

Yes, I think there will be new stuff.  Romance between Sylvester and Megan’s sister. That will have a lot to do with his character.  I’m excited to see where that goes because she has a terminal illness. I don’t know specifics about season 2, but season 1 has cool stuff in store for the rest of the season.

Do you have any favorite episodes this season? 

Yes, the next one airing on February 23.  Going south.  We go to Mexico.  Everything comes out.  It’s a pretty cool one.  The team is at each other’s throats.  Most of it is a pretty intense, fun episode.

This is based on a real life story.  Have you met any of the real people involved with that team headed by Walter O’ Brien?

Yes the guy who closely resembles my character in real life is Dave.  He came to the premiere party.  I met and spoke to him.  I met the real Toby whose name is Craig.  I feel like I always embarrass myself in front of him because I’m so scared of him analyzing and judging me.  I met Craig who is the happy mechanical genius; he is nothing like Jadyn Wong.  Walter tries to come as much as he can truthfully saving the world most days.  I don’t know how often he gets off, but when he does he tries to go to set.

So Walter is a consultant on set?

We have him sporadically.  There are more days without him than with him, but when he comes, he’s around.  He makes himself available to us through phone calls and emails. He’s saving the world.

Since we are talking about technology, do you personally ever worry about the security of your personal e-mails or things getting hacked?

Yes, I’m very frightened of that.  There is also thing about privacy that anything that is truly private I just won’t put it on a computer.  You’re allowed to not share.  It does hinder me in certain aspects but there is not a lot of ways to stay off the grid.  I thought I was doing a great job and I googled my name and the word “address”.  I was frightened.  You do that to yourself and you’ll see.  Anybody can find you.

When Google earth came out, I wondered how I could ever do anything on my own. I guess that is the world.  Only Walter O’ Brien can protect me.

Did the show change your view toward technology then?

I wouldn’t say that.  It changed my perspective toward technology.  Before it was toys and it wasn’t anything I could see myself using in a way to benefit myself because I’m an actor.  Then I started writing a lot and seeing what type of media was getting generated and where technology was going. It’s filling in all the blank spaces we as human beings have lived with. There’s hit and miss stuff with technology.  I will never comprehend it, so I’m just trying to use it.  I’m working with the Macbook as best as I can before the robots come and kill me.

But then Walter can stop that too!

I don’t know how Walter feels about that stuff.

And that is basis for for another story (laughing)!

Hey, perhaps it could be the basis for another episode!

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Ari Stidham in “Huge”

Turning the focus on you, how did you get involved in the world of acting?

I got very lucky.  It is a little bit of everything.  Some people would call it opportunity. Then networking.  Then being about to deliver and execute. I did improv through my high school called Comedy Sportz.  I belonged with them for a while.  I’ve since left the company.  It was a great training ground for me.  I started doing improv in high school.  In another high school down the road, one of the parents saw my brother and me doing improv at a couple games and we bridged the gap between schools.

We met Sherry Coben, a writer who was friends with Winnie Holzman  who wrote “Huge”.  There was a day where Savannah Dooley, Winnie Holzman’s  daughter , who also co-wrote “Huge” championed this project.  Savannah wrote on her facebook she was looking for people who went to fat camp because she was doing a teen soap about that.  She wanted to talk to real teenagers who had that experience.  That was the demographic of the show.  Sherry Coben knew I went to fat camp so she connected us.  When I met Savannah, I didn’t know it was going to be as real as it was.  I remember thinking if there was a tv show that comes from this, then I’m definitely going to audition for it.  It was one of those moments where it was important that I do it.  I went, cut myself open, and told every traumatic story I could think of at fat camp. She loved every second of it and we became good pals.  She something in me that helped her out artistically.  She saw a direction to take one of her characters.

She and I didn’t speak for a while and there was this nationwide search.  I contacted the casting director through Actors Access.  I submitted to them on Actors Access and to Savannah Dooley in facebook.  I went in and auditioned for the casting directors and they brought me in to producers.   I tested for it which was the most nerve wrecking time.  It was the first thing I ever auditioned for professionally.


Yes, it was pretty cool.  I read the breakdowns for the character.  17 years old.  Soulful guitar lost with Jewish heritage and in touch with his emotions. I felt, I could be the dude.  I thought, “That is something I could do, and a huge part of who I am.”

The stars just lined up for me to get me the job.  It got me an agent, and gave me my start.   My key to the industry was that gig. Sherry Coben is the one who saw a need for talent and filled it.  I always have to give it up to her.

Do you have any particular role models in acting?

Paul Dooley has a vast and expansive career. He did hard comedy and drama and pretty much anything. He is a comedic actor who works all the time well into his 80’s . I worked with him on “Huge”. He has so many stories. John Larroquette is funny and he resonates with me. There’s a lot of new media coming out. Art and tv are going to change greatly. I’m excited to do new stuff as well, not just tv and movies. There is going to be new entertainment to make new strides in your career. In planning my career, I’m not limited to tv and film, but video games which will be huge. That’s what I’m most excited about – new ways to entertain people. I want to be the John Larroquette of video games!

Yes, and you are a writer too. And this could be a new vehicle outside of writing?

Yes, I fall back to the artistic side of things. I barely know how to use my Mac from 2009. I run Snow Leopard. I can’t even use my Skype on my computer which is so outdated so I use Facetime. For the past 3 years, I had an iphone 3S and finally upgraded with my tv money.

There are a lot of actors in this town trying to make it. As a successful actor, what would your biggest advice be?

Make stuff. Take it upon yourself to create a webseries or a short film or a sketch which you think is funny or different. Learn how to animate something. Learn how to edit. The jobs that are difficult is because there are not a lot of people who can do it. Learn to make something whole. Write it, produce it, edit it, act in it. Create it. All those things you did could be streams of income for you. Look at entertainment not just as acting but as getting something as a whole.

What is your daily mantra?

It would be “Go get ‘em”. You could be invested in every aspect of making something as an actor. I know when I act on “Scorpion”, I know how the editors are how to cut it, how the cameras are shooting it, what the director wants me to do, what the script says, and my take on the moment. You create the moment from so many different aspects. Being a part of the process is the model. So thinking about it, my mantra would be “Get your hands dirty”. Be a part of it. If you take an interest and make it real for yourself, it will be so good.

That’s amazing!

I didn’t get good in acting until I started failing as a filmmaker. You have to know everything. You have to take it one step as a time.

Do you have any upcoming projects aside from “Scorpion”?

I’m producing a sketch show with a couple people from Bad Boys Comedy called “Homeless Night Live” which is angular and alternative and weird. It is an avant guarde piece of a sketch show written and produced in the greater Los Angeles area. All in their mid-20’s. A lot of the proceeds are going to LGBT to help a charity. We were doing it as a toast to this culture. There are homeless theatre groups – two – in Los Angeles. It is impressive. I heard about all of this so my friends and I decided to produce this show.

I’m making a bunch of short films which will come out on the web. I do music as well.

You are indeed a talented musician who plays many instruments – trumpet, piano, and bass guitar. Tell us about your music.

And the kazoo too. I make a lot of music. I release it under the name Dr. TV. There are a couple projects coming out in April and May. There some stuff called Mono Maniac. There is a project Fakeness which is coming out in April.

As we continue to embark on the rest of season 1 in “Scorpion”, what else can we look forward to?

This season, you can see a little romance from the Sylvester/Megan department. You can see some Walter/Hayes tension. Maybe some team fights. May Sylvester rides a giant rat through the desert? I’m just throwing different ideas out there. Basically you have to watch to find out what happens next.

You just need to tune into CBS.

Yes, Monday nights at 9pm.

Thank you so much Ari!

Thank you!

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This show is pure genius.  It is not a surprise that CBS has picked up this show for another season.  Want to find out what’s in store for this genetically gifted team?  Then as Ari Sidham says, “You just have to watch!”   Stay tuned to CBS every Monday at 9/8c!

Official web site:


Twitter:  @ScorpionCBS / #TeamScorpion

Ari Stidham is on social media!

Twitter:  @AriStidham


Courtesy of CBS