Drew and Jonathan Scott might be Canada’s most successful double export. Identical twins and serial entrepreneurs, the Scotts have parlayed their original home improvement series, Property Brothers, into an unscripted empire. Since wresting production duties on their flagship, they’ve become a dominant supplier to HGTV — accounting for roughly 17 percent of original programming at the cable network — and, come May 23, a featured selling point on parent company Warner Bros. Discovery’s new streamer, Max.
“A lot of people don’t realize the scope of our business — that we produce as many other shows as we do or actually manufacture 10,500 different products,” says Jonathan, who joined Drew on the phone from a worksite earlier in May.
What those familiar with the 45-year-old affable and self-deprecating brothers do realize is that they’ve emerged as pop culture darlings. Through their renovation show Celebrity IOU, they persuade stars like Gwyneth Paltrow to take sledgehammers to walls. More recently, the White House courted the duo for a comedy short for April’s Correspondents’ Dinner. Even Tina Fey wrote a season-long joke into Girls5eva in hopes of scoring a Property Brothers cameo. And now that they’re both settled in Los Angeles — Drew with wife Linda, Jonathan with actress Zooey Deschanel — they only want to do more.
You produce all your own shows now — but originally you were just on-air talent. How did you make the switch?
DREW SCOTT Jonathan and I started pitching ourselves to the networks in Canada. One of the network heads said, “You guys are great, I like your ideas, but we’d never give money to you. We need to give it to a trusted production company.” We found one — but then, as we grew and learned production, we ended up buying the IP for our brand and starting our own production company [Scott Brothers Entertainment].
What was the biggest obstacle in getting that control?
DREW Networks or studios, even if it’s just in the back of their minds, are like, “Yeah, yeah, more talent wanting to be the executive producer.” To get past that hurdle, we had a renegotiation of one of our early contracts, where we said, “Listen, we’ll sign on again, but you have to let us produce one of our shows to show you what we can do.” The first one we produced, Property Brothers at Home, became HGTV’s highest-rated series at the time. We knew how to produce effectively, on budget and on time.
JONATHAN SCOTT And, when this was happening, I only had six days off in all of 2014. In 2015, I had 13 days off. Becoming producers was us saying that we needed to find work-life balance. They can’t just have me working every single day to try and get these projects done. We were already producing three to four times more content annually than any other host on the network. It was affecting my health. I needed to recoup and energize. That didn’t happen until we finally took over production.
Your deal has long been at HGTV. What’s one way that your jobs have changed since the Warner Bros. Discovery merger?
DREW Because we’re one of the largest unscripted independent production companies in the country, this merger has just opened up so much more opportunity for us to grow and add series across the platforms. They’ve been really willing to lean into what’s important to us and our values. Our production company produces a lot of LGBTQ content.
Wikipedia says that your previous jobs included mall cop and flight attendant. Who did which?
DREW Jonathan and I did almost everything together. When I was maybe 19, we were still at university and I needed a job. At the time I was single, and thought, “Where can I meet ladies?” At the mall. I was definitely Paul Blart. And we were both flight attendants at Canada’s largest airline, WestJet. We should be 90 with the amount of jobs we’ve done.
What’s the worst job that you ever had?
JONATHAN Our older brother was working with this cleaning company that would do commercial spaces, and he wrangled me into it because we were like mini capitalist pigs. We’d take a job just to keep buying more of whatever we were collecting at the time. It turned out to be cleaning bathrooms at a refinery — and each bathroom had about 50 stalls. That was absolutely disgusting.
What’s the biggest professional disagreement you’ve had, and how did you get over it?
JONATHAN In the very beginning, Drew did not want to call the show Property Brothers. I liked the name, but Drew thought they could replace us with some other brothers if they wanted to. He wanted something even more specific. Like, what, Property Identical Brothers? We kept going back and forth before finally landing where we are — which, of course, changed our lives.
When you’re approached by a stranger, do they call you by your names or refer to you as “Property Brothers”?
DREW Sometimes they’ll say “Hey, it’s the Property Brothers,” but a lot of times it’s, like, “It’s Drew and Scott! I love you guys!”
JONATHAN Nobody knows my name. Everybody always asks, “Are you Drew or Scott?” Well, I’m neither of those.
Jonathan, you’ve said the house you recently renovated with your partner, Zooey Deschanel, is your “forever home.” Is there such a thing for a serial renovator?
JONATHAN I’m sure we’ll have a vacation property or something like that, but this will be the house that I stay in and pass down to the kids. I’ll probably put a plot somewhere where I bury myself when I go. It was three years and a grueling renovation. Now that it’s done, it’s just a dream.
DREW If Zooey wasn’t doing what she’s doing, she’d be a professional designer or realtor. The houses on Brother vs. Brother and our warehouse, she’s actually found all of them.
Have you ever really upset a homeowner with a reveal?
JONATHAN There was one who was fixated on the original finishes of their kitchen — tile counters that hadn’t been touched since the ’80s. The husband’s like, “It’s time.” So, the reveal happens, and immediately it’s, “Well, I don’t know what was wrong with the other counters.” I had to stop production. I didn’t understand. I was like, “It’ll change your life and how you use this space.” She’s just bawling. It turned out she was having an emotional struggle with change. Oh, and another time, Drew started rubbing the tummy of a homeowner and said, “And that’s not the only reveal we’ve got. Right?” She hadn’t told anybody she was pregnant yet … the mortified shock of this woman!
DREW For the record, I asked our team, and they said everybody knew. I didn’t realize they meant our crew, not the family.
With Celebrity IOU, you’ve done renovations with Brad Pitt, Halle Berry, John C. Riley, Viola Davis … Who is still on your casting bucket list?
DREW Dolly Parton would be amazing. Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson. Dwayne Johnson would be hilarious, especially if we could get Kevin Hart back.
Which Celebrity IOU guest has surprised you by how hard they worked?
JONATHAN One hundred percent Glenn Close. She was so into it. I didn’t realize that she lives on a ranch and does a lot of the ranch work herself. She didn’t need anybody to hand-hold her. She jumped into the excavator and went bananas — laughing as she smashed this shed apart. She’s fearless!
DREW Then you see Glenn on the carpet at the Met Gala in this beautiful, silver, flowing outfit. I bet under that gown she has a plaid shirt and jeans and her work gloves.
This was almost a year ago at this point, but I never heard how your Girls5eva cameo — in which Drew has an extended fight scene with Paula Pell — came to be.
DREW Jonathan and I are only filming our shows in L.A. now because we want to be home for dinner and on weekends. My agent said, “Well, now that you’re here, I know you want to do more acting and you have a martial arts background. Do you have any of that on video?” A stunt coordinator friend helped me choreograph a video shoot, and it’s kick-ass. I look like I should be in a Marvel movie. Somehow Tina Fey ended up seeing it. She always writes little jokes about us, so she and her team write this scene where Paula’s character storms the Property Brothers set, and I make her fight me. It was like a 12-hour day of Paula and me fighting and Jonathan just standing there.
Before I let you go, tell me a home design trend you love and one people should be avoiding.
JONATHAN We’re seeing a lot of vintage, a lot of repurposing of old pieces. I love that. Always makes the design more interesting. I think white kitchens are over — even though we’re still seeing a lot of sales for them. People are going back to color or stained woods.
And where do you stand in the gas range debate?
DREW It’s not about attacking people who have it, but it’s not healthy. Induction is way better. “Cooking with gas” was marketing that tricked everybody into thinking that that’s how professionals cook —
JONATHAN That it’s the only way to cook. Now we’ve got a better technology. The scariest thing are all the reports on indoor air quality. It’s just pumping fumes in your face, so it isn’t even a matter of taking sides. I think the next big movement for home, besides electrification, is going to be about air and water quality.
Interview edited for length and clarity.
A version of this story first appeared in the May 17 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.