‘Quantum Leap’: Scott Bakula Said He’d Prevent ‘Big Disasters’ If the Show’s Premise Were Real

Before he became an NCIS special agent or captained a starship, Scott Bakula traveled from inside one person’s body and mind to another on Quantum Leap.

Save for a bit of time on stage, the 66-year-old actor has spent his entire career starring in television shows and movies including drama, sci-fi, fantasy, and comedy.

He’s obviously versatile. He plays the piano and can belt it out vocally with the best of them. 

Scott Bakula’s career before ‘Quantum Leap’

Scott Bakula
Scott Bakula | D Dipasupil/Getty Images for Extra

Born in St. Louis on October 9, 1954, Bakula’s interest in music came early. He wrote songs and started a rock band in the fourth grade, according to IMDb. He later sang with the St. Louis Symphony.

Following in his father’s footsteps, Bakula began studying law at the University of Kansas but left in his sophomore year deciding he would rather focus on acting. He moved to New York to perform in Shenandoah in 1976. 

In 1978, Bakula received his first credited television role as John for one episode of the TV series On Our Own. A few more guest appearances followed until he was cast as Hunt Stevenson in Gung Ho a short-lived series of nine episodes in 1987. 

From 1986-1988, Bakula appeared in Designing Women as Dr. Ted Shively. He made a couple of guest appearances on Matlock in 1987. The following year he was cast as Barnett M. ‘Bud’ Lutz, Jr. in Eisenhower & Lutz. That show survived for 13 episodes. Afterward, he was cast in Quantum Leap.

The premise of ‘Quantum Leap’ and Bakula’s part in the show

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Quantum Leap was the creation of Donald P. Bellisario, who formerly created Magnum P.I. and later, NCIS. The name of the show stems from a book Bellisario was reading applying quantum physics to viewing the stars, according to Mental Floss. “And the quantum leap is a physical thing that happens that you can’t explain,” Bellisario said. “That was it.” He had his title.

Bakula portrayed Dr. Sam Beckett, a physicist, who invents a time machine. Thing is, he got stuck in it. In each episode, he spent time in someone else’s body while trying to rewrite history and make the world a better place. Dr. Beckett’s time travel was limited though. He could only travel within his own lifespan.

Actor Dean Stockwell portrayed Admiral Al Calavicci, assisting Beckett through his work each episode. Bakula’s daughter, Chelsy Bakula, made a guest appearance in one episode ‘Memphis Melody’ in 1993. She was eight or nine at the time and has no other acting credits.

What Bakula would do if the show and his character were real

Since the end of the show in 1993, Bakula has gone on to play many additional TV roles. He appeared as Peter Hunt in Murphy Brown, as Mr. Smith in Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Steve Bartowski on Chuck, and Trip Western on Desperate Housewives.

His Sci-Fi fans know him as Captain Jonathan Archer from Star Trek Enterprise which aired from 2001-2005. Most recently he has starred as Dwayne Pride, first appearing on NCIS and following with the spinoff show, NCIS: New Orleans, currently in its final season.

Bakula has said he likes fantasy. “I’ve always been the kind of kid who likes to dream about other things I could be and exotic situations I could be in. I don’t know what makes you that kind of person. Some people probably don’t have time for fantasy. I probably have too much time for it.”

If he were able to “leap” back through time travel, Bakula has said he would like to change the courses of each World War so as not to have had so many losses. He also would like to change the outcome from 9/11.

“You know, it would be fun to go back to the days of yore and the courts of such and such, but I always tend to think more about the huge world events that have happened and if there was some way we could have prevented these big disasters.”