Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Rachael Cook: characters in my head

Rachael summarizes her acting ethos in recombined interview excerpts...

I started doing print work here in Minnesota when I was young, like real young. Like 10 or 11 or so. I have no interest whatsoever in being a high-fashion model, nor is it possible. I went on this audition, when I was 15, for a short film that was shooting locally -- local writer, director, star, the whole bit.
And somehow I got the part. It was a lot of fun. It was called 26 Summer Street and it was based on a short story by William Carlos Williams. We shot it over two weekends, and it came out wonderfully. It's a beautiful little film. It was really a good experience! A manager from LA heard that I had done this and saw my picture. She called the print agency I was working for and said, "Bring this girl in, bring her parents, and we'll talk." So I went, and she asked me if I'd like to come out to LA. And I went over my winter break of school and I tried out for The Baby-Sitter's Club. Got that... not sure how. And I've been working ever since. Yes, I've been a very busy girl!
But acting just sort of happened and I found that I loved it. It was such a challenge.
I never thought I'd be here. My dad was a social worker and my mom sells cookware. They are so proud of me it's almost embarrassing! They're really supportive and wonderful. I wish I get to see them more. I especially miss my younger brother, Ben a lot. I miss being in a place where there isn't such an obvious presence of the film industry.
When I came into the business, things changed a lot, and my life was in a real state of flux. I didn't know where I fit. I wasn't sure if I'd make it. Even though I was working quite a bit, I didn't know this is what I was supposed to do [in life].
I never really believed it was permanent. But at the same time, it was all happening and really removed me from the life I had going in Minneapolis.
So I didn't know where I belonged. I was just working a great deal.
My job is getting a job. It's the only industry I can think of where that's the case. Now I'm not considered someone who's a draw, and that works against me. Mostly, I've made independent films that don't see the light of day.
It may not seem much, but as a professional actor, you seek out that one role that relates to your personality and maximizes your chances to expand your career. So, it's never, ever an ego thing - it's a survival thing. You work and you, hopefully, get roles that lead to better films. You're going to need a lot of luck. It's a lot of right place at right time. There's a lot of rejection... gotta expect that. Other than that, I guess the best advice I can give is not to have a lot of expectations, and just prepare yourself the best you can. Take classes in improv and scene study. Also, LA is a very weird place. I don't want to say "Trust No One," but I will say “Be careful." Good luck, and follow your dreams, but beware of putting all your self-worth in what you look like because that's not who you are. Sometimes you've got to stick up for what you believe in.
You know: Be yourself! If people don't like you, then don't hang out with them. Parents always say that, I know-but I swear it's true. I did not grow up getting told about how manipulated the images we see of women and girls out there are, and I think it's an absolute travesty that young women are seeing what the media is feeding them. It breaks my heart to be part of an industry and part of a machine that really pushes out these images and propagates these really terrible standards that are false. Nothing that you see is real, even if you look at what looks like a candid photo of someone, anything can be done. It is false advertising and false advertising is a crime so why isn't this a crime? I'm just up in arms about it.
I used to be overpoweringly shy, and I finally came out of my shell, but I'm still kind of quiet-- and I think it's fine to be shy. I always get keyed up worrying about things that don't need to be worried about. I'm a master of over-analyzing things that are completely insignificant, and I won't realize this till days later. I can be incredibly self-conscious and erratic when I'm not comfortable with somebody or a situation. Sometimes I say things that I can't believe came out of my mouth. Or I won't mean something and it will come out completely nonsensical.
It's kind of scary to think someone's watching me and knows what I'm doing all the time. The more famous I get, the more of that kind of weirdness is there.
I could see myself hanging out in college, taking some classes. I'd like that, I really would. But I keep finding scripts that I really want to do, and I think, if I don't do this, I know they're going to get this other person to do it, and I'll be so upset when I see it and they're good.
You'll be surprised how much work acting can be. Memorizing your lines, hitting your mark, dealing with stage fright, having people look at you - you have to decide if you want to be made a public spectacle.
I like acting now--I like it a lot. At times I wish my life were quieter, but I wouldn't trade it at the moment.
To unwind... I don't know. I'm not a very tense person. I'm not one of those actors who gets nuts when you put me in my trailer for half an hour with nothing to do.
I like to read. Don't get me wrong, I can party with the best of them, but for the most part, I'm a pretty laid-back person, I think. Yeah, I've been busy.
Actors have like a hundred different ways of choosing which projects they want to do. But ... the ones I want are the ones where I can just read it, I can so clearly just see myself saying these lines. I read them on the page and I can hear my voice in my head and how I would say them. At that point, it's like, 'I have to do this. You might think that there is someone else you might want for this role, but you don't understand, because I'm going to do this.' I can just hear these characters in my head. The best thing about being able to do different parts is that it brings out different parts of you. To say that a character comes completely out of nowhere, to me, is false. Every character is a little piece, just blown up. That's what's great about taking on all kinds of roles.
I'm easy to work with, I'll be honest.
The film has to be strong in one of three categories. Either the character has to be someone I'm just dying to play, or else, if it's not that, the people involved.
I love working with great actors or directors or production people, even.
And the third would be the genre of the film.
I'm really open about what I do. You won't catch me taking my clothes off; I get cold easily. I have no problem with actors getting naked in movies, but taking my clothes off makes me uncomfortable. I'm very shy. I won't do nudity, and no body-doubling to make it look like it's me. My rule for movies and pictures is, if I can't sit at the premiere with my father next to me, I won't do it.
No, and I think I'll sort of see what comes up. I am not the sort of a person to say never, because you'll inevitably find yourself in a prison, where your mindset changes or the opportunity is too good to pass up. I want to try everything.
I think I'm a million different faces. I'm not ready to be put in a box. Variety is the key. That's all.
I think the most rewarding part is being able to create something... create a person. You know, we have to take these characters-- who, granted, have their separate personalities but, on a lot of levels, are pretty two-dimensional-- and make them into people with flaws, with insecurities. It sounds kinda weird, and I'm not going to get method on you or anything, but when you've been someone else and felt these things and gone through situations and scenes as this person -- who's in a lot of ways you and in some ways someone else -- you get to miss it when you don't get to be that person anymore. It's kinda like losing a friend.
Having it (being an actress) perceived as so much of what you are.
Before [people] even meet me, they know what I do.
I feel that I'm not what I do. I'm Rachael, and I just really, really like to act.
But I don't think it's who I am.
It's what I do and it makes me feel good. But sometimes you're going to have to go through a little embarrassment to get what you want. I'm doing it! It's a good thing! It's nice to live completely on your own terms.
I love what I do; I just want to diversify it. I want to put together a very diverse body of work, while still playing interesting characters. It's not going to be easy.
People who talk during movies drive me insane!
I don't know if the glass is half full or empty. It depends what kind of day you ask me on. But right now, it's very much half full. As far as my entire take on life, I'll have to get back to you on that one.
Seriously, I'd like to have someone ask me, "Are you happy?" Everyone assumes that I'm on top of the world right now... which is true, but sometimes I like to be asked.
By the way, the answer is yes.
Hope you guys like the movie.

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