Post Number: 187
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|Posted on Tuesday, September 15, 2009 - 09:16 am: ||
When you get the opportunity to interview an actor who is starring in the next Martin Scorsese movie you take it. Take it's being polite. You hunt it down and drag it kicking and screaming back into your cave. I wish I could say that I hunted this interview down (or that I live in a cave - how cool would that be?) but Curtiss contacted me through his PR rep and wanted to talk about what it was like landing a role in a Martin Scorsese movie.
Martin Scorsese movie. A holy trinity of words that mean salvation to film fanatics and movie stars worldwide. Curtiss Cook has done work pre-Marty Scorsese. He starred in Sidney Pollack's The Interpreter with Nicole Kidman. He put in some work on HBO's Sopranos and did some Law & Order too. Mr. Cook also did some voice over work for the Grand Theft Auto series. A video game series that tragically has caused not one single young adult to commit any murders or real crimes as of yet. #### these kids and their resilience to digital peer pressure... #### them one and all...
So we talked. Talked about meeting "Marty" for the first time. Talked about what's waiting for Leo DiCaprio on the Isle of Shutter. We talked about Bill Cosby, early American Jazz music, the cosmopolitan coolness of Mark Ruffalo - and it all went something like this:
Wow Curtiss this is a real honor to talk to you about acting, movies and uh, some guy named Martin Scorsese. You're in his new movie Shutter Island - can you tell us a bit about your role in the film?
Curtiss - Well, the movie is based on the book (of the same name) by Dennis Lehane. My character Trey Washington rooms with Leo and Mark Ruffalo's characters. He's an orderly who works very closely with Dr. Cawley (Ben Kingsley’s character) so he for the most part acts as a liaison between the hospital and the Marshals (or does he???)
(or does he???) (so it's going to be like that huh? we can keep this in parentheticals Curtiss if you feel the need to spill some secrets about the new movie)
Curtiss - Yeah I'm gonna leave it like that....only because I know you truly want to be surprised in the end.... and you will be!!!
I know its set in the 50's did you have to do some research for the role?
Curtiss - I've been acting for a good while now...and I've learned that the best research is life and trying to live it without regrets and experiencing as many things as possible. With that being said...a real feeling of responsibility came over me when I got this part....it was to show a side of African-American men that we don't get to see that often, so I found myself listening to more music from that period, reading books about the goings on of that time and talking to family members and friends who were alive during the fifties...I really got into it...so the answer is yes I did do some research...conventional and unconventional...until it all felt second nature to me.
When you first said "music of the era" I immediately thought Motown, but this is pre-Motown right? Maybe Sam Cooke? Marty always chooses really great music for his films - it'll be interesting to see what he throws in Shutter Island's Soundtrack when he can't just hand the ball off to the Rolling Stones this time...
Curtiss - Yes it is Pre-Motown... I mostly listened to jazz like: Nat King Cole, Dizzy Gillispe... Be- Bop, Chet Baker...Miles Davis…I stayed in that realm... something about that music felt more familiar to me at that time and it seemed to work. I agree the music in his films always rocks so it's going to be well worth the wait I'm sure.
As for Martin Scorsese - describe that feeling the first time you met the dude. Bet that was surreal.
Curtiss - Ok...Now, I had read for the part about 2 months before I heard anything else was going further...then I get this call out of the blue from my Agent saying that "Mr. Scorsese would like to meet with you." I'm like ok, ok, very funny...!! She went on to say "it will be in a couple of days, they won’t say where as of yet, but we'll know soon". Man, I was freaking out, thinking is this really going to happen, or was I going to get a call saying 'oh well he can't meet...' or something like that. I get the call to go over to the Waldorf Hotel which I've only seen as I've passed it on Park Ave. I sit down with his Assistant....just small talkin' then we walk into his room, and you know that feeling of when you see a super star you kind of feel like you know them...because you've seen them so much...it was kind of like that...so I had to keep telling myself you're not watching TV man, you're here, you're really here with this man and he wants to talk with you about a movie he's doing and he thinks you maybe right for (come on really, does it get any better than that for an actor!?)... he says "Hey I'm Martin Scorsese, you can call me Marty..." and I say Hey Marty...how you doing brah, you can call me Curtiss...everyone laughed...and I thought to myself... this is hot! ... Even if I don't get the gig this will live with me and no one can take this moment away from me ever....we then went on to talk about the book and movies I liked. It all lasted a good 10 to 12 minutes, but it was truly surreal. I left there feeling like I was the man....which can be hard for an actor...I felt good! Got on the Metro North to go home just when I got off the train...my cell rings and My Agent asks " how would you like to work with Marty Scorsese 'Trey' ..." Man, sh*t!!! I almost lost my #### mind ...
That's such a cool story man. Bet you made a few phone calls after you got home from the Waldorf...
Curtiss - Another leg of this story is, when my Agent called I was on the phone with my Wife....so of course I called her Right back and we yelled together for a good 5 minutes. Then I got in my car and drove home…by the time I walked in the house everyone had been called for me... my Wife had shared the news with everyone we knew.
So this means you're officially famous now right?
Curtiss - From your mouth to God's Ears...as well as the Ancestors, the Universe, and anybody else who can help me!
Shutter Island doesn't really resemble anything Martin's ever done before - in fact I sort of thought it looked much more like a horror film than anything else. What do you describe the film as?
Curtiss - If you're talking about the trailer it definitely does put you in the mind of horror...but it's anything but....I mean from my opinion it has a noir film feel…very classic, and if you've read any of Lehane's work there's always this feeling of mystery...the twist and turns in this movie are brilliant...and Leo and Mark's work... whew*** if he doesn't get.... I'm not going to say anything about that, don't want to jinx anything...
Was there ever a moment during filming where you almost got between Marty and DiCaprio - maybe breaking the two guys up and getting the coveted role of Scorsese's new "it actor"?
Curtiss - Maybe I shouldn't be telling you this... but hell! There was this one day on set when we were shooting this very difficult scene with Leo, Myself, and Mark....and a few extras...it was a long day and everyone was fried, even Marty who always seems to have an endless supply of oxygen....Leo was having trouble with his monologue in this scene and he just couldn't get a handle on it…tempers got a little hot, and voices began to raise...that's when I stepped in and said I could do it and went on to recite the monologue word for word with all the blocking and conviction of a young Sidney Poitier...the crew started the slow clap Leo looked over at me and nodded and smiled in support and just as Marty walked over to me... I woke Up!! It was a good dream....
The set was cool everyone did there thing... but I will say this…Mark Ruffalo is a hell of a guy, really cool people.
I've heard that about Ruffalo. And I'm so gaw#### far down the entertainment food chain - if a rumor reaches me it must be true... You see the guy working with all these terrific filmmakers (Ang Lee, David Fincher, Michael Mann) and whenever I listen to the DVD commentaries for these movies these big important film Directors pretty much gush over Mark Ruffalo. It's cool you got to meet him.
Curtiss - Yeah... Most Definitely...
Sopranos, Grand Theft Auto, and now you're working with Martin Scorsese - you're criminal career is taking off isn't it?
Curtiss - I hope not. Although I love to play bad guys ... I like to play as many different types of people as possible. I'm playing a lawyer in the upcoming 'Order of Redemption' with Tom Berenger and I play an officer in 'City Island' with Andy Garcia which should be hitting theaters soon. (Ok maybe they're still bad guys) but my fans know I do it all...
I'll always think of Tom Berenger as Sgt. Barnes in Platoonn. He should have won the Academy Award for that role. I'll definitely throw Order of Redemption and City Island on the ol' film radar.
Curtiss - Thank you...
So which is the better crime flick based upon two words smashed together - Scarface or Goodfellas?
Curtiss - Come on....Goodfellas...Was that a set up?
Yeah. But it was a lame-ass set-up. You went Gabrielle Reece on it and smashed it back in my face dude. But still, I'm pretty sure that was the right answer - whether you were trying to curry favor with the mighty Marty or not. Are there any other film Directors you'd like the chance to work with?
Curtiss - Oh yes... the first one that comes to mind is Carl Franklin, then there's: Paul Haggis, Steven Soderbergh, Tony Scott, Antoine Fuqua, Jonathan Demme, Kasi Lemmons...to name a few in no particular order.
Who's the person you looked up to most growing up?
Curtiss - Not talking about the business...my Dad taught me so much about life....at the time the lessons were being taught I didn't much like it...but I always marveled how he got things done and made sure we were cared for with very little resources. He was and I guess in some ways still is a mix between Bill Cosby's ‘Dr Huxtable’ on the Cosby Show and John Amos' 'James Evans' on Good Times...and my Mother was right there beside him always balancing everything out...so it was definitely my Dad and of course my Mother.
Lately people have been talking alot about Michael Jackson and his influence on breaking through race barriers. But if you ask me Curtiss Bill Cosby was there a generation before Mike. I think we were all raised by Cliff Huxtable. I remember watching that show with my parents and thinking how cool it would be to spend the night over at Theo Huxtable's house on a Friday night.
Curtiss - Mr Cosby... made magic with that show. Countless times, me and my children have turned on Nick at Nite....or TvLand and watched marathons of the Cosby Show and Good Times and still laughed our behinds off…there aren’t to many shows you can say that about.
Your parents sound like wonderful people - now you just got to sneak them both in to the Shutter Island premiere to make up for all that A+ parenting right?
Curtiss - Yeah, yeah that would be the least I could do...
OK man, last question. Johnny Depp and Robert Downey Jr. are both drowning in a river - you only have time to save one of them Curtiss. Who do you save?
Curtiss - I would ask them who should I save and the one who said the other would be the one I would risk my life for... They both seem like cool guys.. Sorry one of them would have to drown! But you said it I didn't.
Ah-ha... The King Solomon solution. Let the guy who's struggling too much to gather breath enough to speak drown. I can see the wisdom in that... Very wise answer Curtiss. Very wise indeedy...
Thanks for taking the time out to talk to us Curtiss. You got some Mark Ruffalo in you too dude. You're cool people. Like I said earlier I'm really excited about Shutter Island. Of course during the movie I'll be leaning over and whispering to my wife "Hey I interviewed that guy!" when you hit the big screen. I hope this does good things for your career man. Take care.
Curtiss - I can hear your Wife saying who?!...can you stop talking please, Leo is on the screen.... Thank you as well man... maybe we can do it again soon...
Shutter Island is Martin Scorsese's first post-Academy Award winning film following The Departed. It hits theaters everywhere October 2nd 2009. I'd like to shout-out a big fat wad of Thank You to Curtiss Cook for taking some time out to talk about himself. Thanks Curtiss.
"Cyniquian" Level Poster
Post Number: 14092
Votes: 0 (Vote!)
|Posted on Tuesday, September 15, 2009 - 12:15 pm: ||
Interesting interview. I'll be lookin forward to this movie since it takes place during the 1950s. Back then I used to listen to the likes of Nat Cole and Miles Davis and Chet Baker, so Curtiss' research was on the money. He sounds like a very "together" brother and I'm sure he'll give a good accounting of himself in this role.
Post Number: 189
Votes: 0 (Vote!)
|Posted on Tuesday, September 15, 2009 - 12:54 pm: ||
Thanks Cynique. He did an excellent job in, "The Interpreter." I have a copy of it. He can also sing his head off! We are proud of him.
Has anyone seen, "I Can Do Bad All by Myself?"
I bought the play 4 my guest while she was visiting with me and it was hilarious!
I might go after Carey gives HIS review, LOL!