Seattle’s ‘Hollywood bandit’ bank robber to be featured in Netflix documentary

The 1990s in Seattle, a time when grunge rocked, tech ruled, and a former pre-med student inspired by the surfer-suspense flick ‘Point Break’ emerged to become one of the most prolific bank robbers in American history. His name Scott Scurlock, better known in history as "Hollywood."

Scurlock's story and eventual death are now the subject of a new Netflix documentary. Keep reading for an inside look at the true crimes behind "How to Rob a Bank" ahead of its June 5 premiere.

The filmmakers told FOX 13 Seattle that Hollywood’s story is really Seattle’s story. There was so much innovation here and Scurlock’s approach to stealing money was equally groundbreaking, from his use of technology and meticulous planning to the Hollywood-quality make-up and elaborate disguises that gave him his nickname.

"When you talk about Hollywood, the bank robber, you think of the theatrical makeup and the overlays that he put on his face and reconstructed his face, facial hair and wig," said Michael Magan.

Magan was a detective with Seattle Police Department’s robbery unit during the height of Hollywood. 

"He was a very smart bank robber," Magan said.

"He was probably the greatest bank robber in American history, undoubtedly," Seth Porges, a director and producer of the film said.

Porges along with Stephen Robert Morse produced and directed the documentary which took four years.

"We uncovered this chapter of Seattle history that has not been told before," Morse said.

The pair said they set out to find the truth about what happened 28 years ago.

"It’s this Greek tragedy, it’s this story of Seattle, the 90s, there’s so many themes here," Porges said.

"In a city known for innovation, Scott Scurlock is the ultimate innovator," Morse said.                 

"Seattle is blowing up and right in the middle of it is this guy who is robbing bank after bank after bank, and nobody knows who he is," Porges said.

That is until the night before Thanksgiving in 1996.

"At 5:40 p.m., the alarm goes out that there was a robbery at Seafirst Bank in Lake City and the person was wearing theatrical makeup," Magan said.

It was Hollywood, so they grabbed their gear, drove to Lake City and eventually spotted the van Hollywood and two of his accomplices were in. They tried to stop the van, but Magan told FOX 13 Seattle, instead, one of the passengers got out and was carrying an assault rifle. 

"When he went up to fire at me, he was hesitating like this (motioned his hesitation) and the gun was not going off," Magan said. From there, both sides started shooting.

"You could hear the rounds buzzing by your head," Magan said.

At some point, Hollywood drove off, crashed into a house, and hid for 24 hours.

"Little did I know when I was firing into the van, I had struck two of the suspects," Magan said.

One of those suspects revealed Hollywood’s name to law enforcement, Scott Scurlock. The FBI then served a search warrant to his tree house in Olympia, but as that was happening, investigators got a call from the owner of a camper where Scurlock was hiding. It was now Thanksgiving Day. Officers responded, Scurlock had taken his own life.

"We give him credit for at least 14 or 15 banks," Magan said.

He told FOX 13 Seattle, the last bank Hollywood robbed, he and his two accomplices got away with just shy of $1.1 million.

"At that time we were told it was the largest bank robbery in U.S. history," Magan said.

While the public knows some of these facts, the directors behind ‘How to Rob a Bank’ and those who worked the case say there are details that have been locked in a metaphorical safe, until now.

"Seattle is a city that has harnessed innovation and technology, but it’s really interesting and parallel because technology is ultimately what brought down our bank robber," Morse said.

"I think the truth will finally come out about what we did to capture one of the most historic bank robberies in the history of bank robbery investigations of all time," Magan said.

Scurlock’s two accomplices were sentenced to 21 years in prison each.

"How to Rob a Bank" premiers Wednesday, June 5 on Netflix.


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