The Verge: Dominic Cooper


After scorching the screen in the film adaptation of The History Boys, Dominic Cooper could have parlayed his heat and good looks into generic leading man status. Instead, the 31-year-old actor has taken supporting roles in a series of interesting films (well, a series of interesting films and Mamma Mia!). Cooper's currently got two movies in theaters: Lone Scherfig's An Education, where he plays Peter Sarsgaard's wealthy best friend, and Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, where director John Krasinski hands Cooper the script's juiciest monologue and lets him run with away with the entire movie.

A few weeks ago, I sat down with the London native to discuss both movies, though talk soon turned to the possibility of a Mamma Mia! sequel and a huge, hush-hush blockbuster he's currently auditioning for. Which one? Read on and see.

In An Education, Carey Mulligan's character Jenny still finds herself dazzled by this upper-class lifestyle she's always dreamed of having. As an actor who no doubt aspired to make it in Hollywood, did you find yourself dazzled by the trappings of success, initially?

It's exactly the same! I always had that reference, that's why I completely understand that side of her, that she's seduced. You go and do a press junket for a film and you stay in these lavish, wonderful hotels, or you're on these islands in the middle of nowhere and you're treated like royalty, and you begin to think, "Oh, this is how my life is. This is me now." But it's not -- it's just a little chunk of time, and I think it's quite dangerous. Why wouldn't you be excited, though? It's exciting, jetting off and staying somewhere different and being treated nicely and experiencing these things. Especially if you're Jenny's age and you come from where she comes from and you want something different for yourself...I really understand that and feel that for her.

Of course, Jenny's family just wants her to knuckle down and have an education and something she can fall back on. Did your own family pressure you in that way when you decided you wanted to become an actor?

I pressured myself, I suppose. I was always aware -- and I still am -- that this career is so fickle. Everything could go well and then suddenly not go well, so it's important to stabilize yourself with the people you surround yourself with. I always wanted to make sure I had something I could possibly fall back on for the first few years [of acting], in case it wasn't looking good. I used to do assistant film editing for commercials, something that was much more stable and reliable, a kind of trade I knew I could always fell back on.

You still never know! That's probably why [acting] is so exciting and why I was so drawn to it: There's that element of risk and change and the sense that your life can take a totally different turn when you're least expecting it. I think it plays on the minds of most actors, that you don't know where the next job is coming from and you don't know what it's going to be. It could all just stop.

Do you feel like your character Danny carries a secret torch for Jenny, or is that just a red herring?

It seems as though he does, right? He's finally discovered someone in his circle of friends who's actually as interested and excited and entertained by the things that inspire him as he is. I think he's probably the one character who's actually from that educated, affluent world that the other characters aspire to be a part of. He's probably seen his friend [seduce young women] many times, and for some reason this time, my character does decide to step in, and I think it's because he does have feelings for her. They probably are quite attracted to each other, in a funny kind of way. They're probably more suited for each other. I'll talk to Lone about doing a number-two and they can go off together into the night. [Laughs]

Jenny is very much under the spell of David, Peter Sarsgaard's character. Do you think Danny is as well? What keeps the two of them bonded to each other as friends?

I think they're kind of charmed by each other, really. I think David wants to be like Danny, wants his life to be like his. But he'll never be that person.

Why not?

Because I think he comes from a different place. He's striving to be that, to have the apartment and all that, but he ultimately lives a very suburban life. Mine's freer and more carefree, I live in this beautiful apartment overlooking Hyde Park, I surround myself with things I enjoy and understand. I just go along with him for the sheer thrill of it.

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