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February 2010
SHUTTER ISLAND | An Interview with Curtiss Cook

An Interview with Curtiss Cook

By Wilson Morales

February 15, 2010


Every actor wants to be in a movie, let alone a big movie. It’s a chance to get something going in their acting career. For some, the chance has come early, and for others, it came after hard dues were paid.

In a film directed by Oscar winning and legendary director Martin Scorcese and starring Leonardi DiCaprio, ‘Shutter Island’ features a cast of talent that also includes Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, Michelle Williams, Patricia Clarkson, Max von Sydow, Jackie Earle Haley, Elias Koteas, and Curtiss Cook.

For Cook, an actor whose previous credits include voicing a character in the game 'Grand Theft Auto IV,’ Sidney Pollack's ‘The Interpreter’ with Nicole Kidman, and various episodic work on TV series such as ‘The Sopranos,’ and ‘Law and Order,’ the opportunity to work with such talented is something he forget and will build on as his career blossoms.

In speaking with Blackfilm.com, the Dayton, Ohio native spoke about his role in the film, working with both Scorcese and DiCaprio, and his upcoming work.

  How did you get attached to the film?

Curtiss Cook: I got attached to Shutter Island the way I would think most g-list actors like myself do… not like Mr. Washington or Mr. Smith get approached...I got the first call to come and audition for casting in which I read the scenes for the camera, heard a very nice thank you, and left their office trying to put it out of my mind. I was able to do this because I didn't hear anything from them for a good three months later and that was a call saying that Mr. Scorsese wanted to meet with me ... Cloud 9, that’s where I was man, on Cloud 9.

What role do you play in the film?

CC: I play Trey Washington, one of the orderlies that works very closely with Dr Cawley (played by Sir Ben Kingsley’s) character. I work as a liaison between the hospital and the marshals (Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Ruffalo) as they come to investigate the missing patient. Times are hard and everyone could use a little escapism sometimes. This thriller is something that will make you or your partner jump into the other’s arms, and give you something to talk about over dinner later that evening. It's a good ride and I'm sure you will enjoy being on it.

Were you nervous working for Scorcese?

CC: I wasn't really nervous, I was more excited. Opportunities come very sparsely for actors in general; let alone for one of color and most of the time you never really know what a project is going to turn out to be. You just hope you have a good time, do good work, and that most of the people you’re working with know what they are doing. But when you come onto a set in which a master, icon, genius is at the helm, all of your other insecurities go out of the window. I've seen this man's work before I even knew I would be doing this professionally, and here he is saying "Curtiss, where going to turn around on you now, do you need anything..." I was excited, very grateful and really trying to take it all in. I want to be in the moment and feel my feet on the ground.

What did you learn from him?

CC: Really just an affirmation that it's ok to be who I am on film and that I’m working in the right direction. I’m that guy who's really secure with who and what I am, but when you have someone with his level of understanding of the business confirm what you feel, it's a beautiful thing. He liked the choices I was making on set and that opened me up to try more and stay out of my head and really play ball with these masters of this craft of acting.

  How was it working with Leonardo DiCaprio?

CC: It was cool. He's real people... it always amazes me how people who are always watched act. I mean that they are aware of it and how normal can you be with all of those eyes on you all of the time. He was surprisingly just cool and to watch him work, it was a crash course in film acting for the whole three months I was on set. I will say I’m truly a better film actor because of him and some of the others I worked with on this film.

With this film, the upcoming 'City Island,' and a recent appearance on the CBS drama, 'The Good Wife,' would you say this is your best year as an actor?

CC: I don't know if I would say my best, but I am truly blessed. I’ve been at this acting thing for a good while. I put in a lot of overtime and although that I’m not fully where I would like to be, I am really grateful for where I am. From doing off off off blackbox plays, to small regional productions, to Broadway, to now, I’m working and it feels good to honestly see some of my work pay off for me. Like I said before, I got more dues to pay and I have no qualms with paying them. I’m getting closer and closer to my goal. Today, I can see it in front of me. Last year, that wasn't the case. I’m blessed and I don't take any of it for granted...

I see that you are also on a commercial. Is it refreshing to know that you're on TV everyday?

CC: On the real, I smile when I look up and see me just face on my TV or when my children say, “Oh look it's daddy again.” My youngest child thinks it’s normal for me to be on television. I’ve got one child in college and another going in next year. I say, “Come on commercials I need you baby!!”


Has it been a struggle landing parts?

CC: It isn’t easy I’ll say that. I have a good team working with me; people who know and care about this business. I do my homework and try to stay as current with my craft as possible. I still take classes when I can and I use a coach when I have to. I read as much as possible, and because I have a wife and children I get to really live life, which is very important for an actor. With all that being said, landing the part is out of my hands. All I can do is show up, do the work and bring me to the party ... and hope for the best. That's what I try to do.
What's next for you?

CC: Well, like you said earlier I’ve got 'City Island,' with Andy Garcia and Julianna Margulies, that hits theatres in March. I’ve got a recurring role on 'How to Make it in America' that should start airing on HBO on the 14th of February and then their’s a guest starring role on the new season of ‘Law & Order: Criminal Intent’ with Jeff Goldblum. That will air sometime in April. Then it's off to Europe for this new James Bond like movie called ‘Vauxhall Crossed,’ which sounds like a lot. I don't think I’ve wrote it all out before, maybe I need to ask for more money (laugh).

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