Playing with guns

Published 12:15 am Sunday, July 24, 2011

Eric Shelton | The Natchez Democrat — Dr. Bruce Scarborough is seen cocking the only weapon he owns that is capable of holding a tooth. Scarborough made a guest appearance on the TV show “Sons of Guns” in the first episode of its second season.

NATCHEZ — Natchez’s Bruce Scarborough’s gun collection might not be as impressive as the TV show “Sons of Guns” would have you believe, but his acting skills might just give him a fallback option if he tires of his dentistry practice.

The show depicted Scarborough as the owner of a Moore .32-caliber Civil War era revolver, and he was bringing his gun down to Red Jacket Firearms in Baton Rouge, the gun shop on which the TV show centers, to see why it would not fire.

When Scarborough came back to pick up his pistol, ironically, the gunsmiths discovered a tooth was jammed inside the gun.

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“I know what that is, I’m a dentist and I would recognize a tooth,” Scarborough said when they showed him the tooth on the show. “I have a hard enough time pulling these things out, I can’t imagine trying to get that in there.”

If it all sounded a little difficult to believe, it is.

It turns out that Scarborough does not own an antique pistol, he is not a gun collector, and the only reason he was put on the show is because he knows the right people and could easily get his hands on some teeth, he said.

“A friend of mine (Marshall Hawkins) who’s a former dentist is friends I think, or has some kind of connection, with the producers of the show,” Scarborough said. “They asked (Hawkins) if he’d be interested and he said, ‘No, but I think I know someone that might.’”

“So he called me to see if I would, and it sounded like fun, so I told him I would do it.”

Scarborough said the director of the show called him soon after and just asked him to bring a change of clothes and a tooth. The gun would be provided when he got to Baton Rouge.

When Scarborough got to the shop in March, they asked him if he was the dentist or the “talent.”

“I said, ‘I think I’m both.’ But I think talent was a little liberal use of the word.”

Scarborough said they told him the background of the gun and gave him the back-story that the gun had been in his family for years.

“There was no script, they told me just kind of a generic outline, and the rest was just total ad lib,” he said.

Scarborough said the whole thing was done in an hour and a half.

“We filmed where I bring the gun in, and they yelled, ‘Cut,’ and then said, ‘Let’s do it again.’”

After the first take Scarborough said he became a little more comfortable, and was able to perform better on the second take.

“This time I was a little more animated,” he said. “Then they told me to change clothes and said, “Let’s pick up the gun,’” Scarborough said.

He said he changed clothes and shot the pick-up scene, where they realize the gun was jammed with a tooth, in two takes as well.

Scarborough said he believes that the producers and the writers of the show got the tooth story from hearing that it happened in another gun shop, and they wanted to put it in “Sons of Guns.”

Scarborough said he has not seen the episode yet, and is hesitant about seeing himself on TV.

“I’m just really leery about watching it,” he said. “I watched the first part with me walking in and changed the channel. But I’ve gotten some good feedback from people. They hear a voice that sounds familiar, and they look, and there I am.”

Scarborough said none of his friends caught on to the fact that the gun wasn’t his, and the show was staged.

“They compliment me on having a nice gun and ask, ‘How’d you get the tooth in there?’” he said. “One guy made a comment and said, ‘Man, I don’t want to know much about your extraction technique.’”

“Nobody has said that it’s fake, I’ve had to tell them.”

Scarborough said he’s even had friends from out of town call and say they saw him on the show.

“Some friends of mine from across the country were like, ‘How did you get the tooth inside the gun?’” he said.

“I’m like I hate to tell you there’s no Santa Claus, either. But it’s kind of fun, just to get a little bit of notoriety.”

Scarborough said he does own a few guns, and likes to shoot when he gets a chance, but none of them are antiques. He had never even seen the show before, he said.

“I can’t stand watching reality TV shows. They need to have it in quotation marks, the reality part,” he said.

Scarborough said it was interesting to see how reality shows are made, and the owner of Red Jacket Firearms, Will Hayden, was very nice but he could tell he was under a great deal of stress.

“There’s a lot of people crawling around a very small space,” he said. “It seemed to me like Will (Hayden) is trying to do work, and the director comes in and tells him to put another shirt on, and they give him some scenario he has to riff off of. It’s very tense in there.”

“It was just something different, something fun to do, kind of exciting and very interesting to see how things work in the background. To sit there and kind of observe people in their element was interesting.”

Scarborough said when the producers of the show explained to Hayden what they wanted to do with the gun he was not very happy.

“He blew up, he was afraid he was going to ruin the value of this pistol if they scratched it or unscrewed it,” he said.

Scarborough said that he had talks with Hawkins in the past about having a reality show about dentists.

“I couldn’t image people around all the time saying, ‘Here, act out this scene,’” he said. “It would be a nightmare.”

Scarborough said that his son Steve and daughter Ginnie have friends that watch the show, and they were excited to find out he was going to be on.

“I don’t think I embarrassed them too bad, which is good. That’s the main thing,” he said.

Scarborough said he took six teeth down to Baton Rouge with him to give the producers the option of which to use. He said they were talking about the tooth jamming the firing mechanism, and there was only a small hole under the hammer that they could put the tooth.

“None of them would fit in there, and one guy asked if they could break off the tooth. I said, ‘the owners don’t mind, we break them all the time.’”

He said they used the crown of the tooth so it would be easy to recognize. The tooth came from one of his patients, he said.

Scarborough said he enjoyed his experience on the show, but does not plan on dropping his 21-year dentistry practice to take up acting.