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Scott committed bank robberies in the 1990s

Netflix’s How to Rob a Bank: the true story behind the new documentary

Have you watched How to Rob a Bank yet?

Emmy Griffiths
TV & Film Editor
June 5, 2024
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How to Rob a Bank is Netflix’s latest true crime documentary, and looks at the Hollywood-style bank robberies committed by Scott Scurlock and his accomplices. An American man known as ‘the Hollywood Bandit’, Scott would use movie makeup and disguises to committ a series of highly successful bank robberies. Here’s everything you need to know about Scott, and the new show, here… 

Who was Scott Scurlock?

Born in 1955, Scott was the son of a minister and a teaching assistant, who went on to commit serious crimes. His childhood is explored in the documentary, where his sister revealed that he once stole a car to go to the beach - despite being brought up in a law-abiding household. 

WATCH: The prolific bank robber stole millions in the 1990s

He was ultimately expelled from a liberal arts college, The Evergreen State College, after he was caught making crystal meth. 

Based in Seattle, he went on to commit a series of bank heists through the 1990s, using movie makeup and disguises after being influenced by the Patrick Swayze and Keanu Reeves movie, Point Break. He committed 17 bank robberies between 1992 and 1996 and is believed to have stolen around £3 million in today’s currency. No one was ever physically harmed during his robberies, despite Scott wielding a firearm during the robberies. 

How to Rob a Bank on Netflix
How to Rob a Bank on Netflix

Speaking about him in the documentary, his lawyer Shawn Newman said: “He wasn't a rough-type personality. He was very well-mannered. He was an interesting guy. If you were to see him on the street, even if he hadn't shaved for a couple of days, he still looked good. He was very physically fit.” 

Scott Scurlock in How to Rob a Bank
Scott Scurlock in How to Rob a Bank

How did Scott die? 

After escaping a police shootout during his final attempt at robbing a bank, Scott died by suicide on 28 November 1996 after FBI agents waited outside of his trailer home to arrest him. His accomplices Mark Biggins and Kevin Meyers were detained, and sentenced to 21 years and three months in prison. The pair were released in 2015 and 2013 respectively. 

Mark Biggins and Scott Scurlock in How to Rob a Bank
Mark Biggins and Scott Scurlock in How to Rob a Bank

Mark said about their time pulling off bank heists: “Once you cross the Rubicon and start living that life you have to lie to everybody about everything, everybody you care about, everybody you meet.”

What is How to Rob a Bank about? 

The documentary uses animation to capture Scott at the height of his notoriety, and Studio Orca animation directors Nelly Michenaud and Ed Bulmer spoke to HELLO! about what drew them to Scott’s unusual story: “Very much like the people that met Scott Scurlock at the time, we immediately felt drawn to this peculiar, handsome, charismatic and clever man. 

Will you be watching the new Netflix show?
Will you be watching the new Netflix show?

“His thirst for freedom led him to do daring things and inspire living life to the fullest - his massive treehouse being a manifestation of that. But ultimately, it was this same need that led to his tragedy; throughout his story you want him to make different choices and save himself. We really worked on representing well the duality of this complex character.” 

Animation by Studio Orca in How to Rob a Bank
Animation by Studio Orca in How to Rob a Bank

Keen to watch the new documentary? The synopsis reads: “It’s 1990s Seattle and the world’s best bank robber has it all: looks, charm, a sprawling treehouse hideout, and an uncanny ability to disappear using Hollywood-style makeup. 

“But as law enforcement inches closer, his once-carefree life spirals into a suffocating trap, forcing him and his crew to risk it all in one final heist.” 

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