A conversation with Curtiss Cook about his acting career

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Growing up in Dayton, Ohio Curtiss I Cook wanted to do and did one thing: Act.

His first brush with the stage was at the age of 10, in an elementary school production of A Raisin in the sun. This experience led to countless high school plays, a career at the famed Dayton Contemporary Dance Company and a full scholarship to Mount View Theatre School in London, where he truly honed his craft.

Curtiss’ resume boasts three Broadway shows, countless national tours, spots on Law & Order, the Sopranos, Rescue Me and numerous commercials. In a PSA for TVBoss.org, an unforgettable Curtiss says, “I’m a have to block you,” to a fictitious MA-drug-abusing character. He has also worked with some of the biggest Hollywood names in the business: Nicole Kidman, Sean Penn, Andy Garcia, Leonardo DiCaprio, Sir Ben Kingsley, the late Sydney Pollack and the great Martin Scorsese.

Curtiss will be seen next in September 2009’s movie release, Order of Redemption, also with the theater release of Tribeca Film Festival’s Audience Award winning film City Island. Then just in time for Oscar season you can see him in the new Martin Scorsese thriller Shutter Island.

The father of five, he and his lovely wife Angelica (who fell in love while both in the Broadway Company of the Lion King) now live in Upstate New York.

Bijan Tehrani: I know that you started acting from a very early age, how did you fell about acting when you were a child?
Curtiss Cook: I grew up in Dayton Ohio, and I was the oldest of five children. When I was younger I actually wanted to be a singer. Then I got this opportunity to do these community theaters play and that was when I got the acting bug. This eventually led to dancing and other performance art. I was also eager to find a way to associate with the beautiful women that I saw on stage, so I really immersed myself into the performing arts. So it was wonderful and I really enjoyed all of it.

Bijan: What was the very first movie that you appeared in?
Curtiss: I used to work at this very large advertising agency. There were numerous copywriters there and one of them was producing this short film. I told him that I was a real actor and told him that I really wanted a part in his film. I played a very small role as this arrogant womanizer. My very first big film was The Interpreter directed by Sydney Pollack.

Bijan: What was the film that you consider a turning point in your career?
Curtiss: My career has allowed me to embrace each step and always looking forward to the next project. I realized this when I still doing musical theatre. I would look through the trade magazines and dream about getting a big role, so all of these steps have allowed me to appreciate all of the projects that I have done and will do in the future. When I think about the opportunities I have had, to work with Martin Scorsese for instance even something as simple as having the interview with him to talk about the role I just feel so honored and privileged.

Bijan: Tell us a little bit more about the character that you play in Shutter Island?
Curtiss: Well Shutter Island was originally a book, and it deals with a criminal investigation at a mental institution. My characters name is Trey Washington and when Leonardo Dicaprio and Mark Ruffalo’s characters arrive on the island, my characters cabin/quarters are where they decide to bunk. As they live there the three of us create this bond, and my character becomes a liaison between them and the Politics of the island.

Bijan: Where are you heading from this point? Do you have any new project lined up?
Curtiss: I just finished shooting the good wife last week. We are currently in negotiation for this film that is shooting in Europe, and we also have a film due out later in the year called Order of Redemption starring Tom Berenger and Armand Asante. And I also have a film called City Island which should be coming out in March with Juliana Margulies and Andy Garcia which is an amazingly funny film.
Bijan: I wish you the best of luck and thank you for your time.

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About Author

Bijan Tehrani

Bijan Tehrani a film director, film critic and writer, works as editor in chief of Cinema Without Borders while teaching Language of Film and Film History at workshops nationwide. Bijan has won several awards in international film festivals and book fairs for his short films and children's books.

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