Oliver Cooper, from Sylvania Township, a suburb of Toledo, Ohio, stars in his first lead role in the film “Project X,” a new flick from the makers of “The Hangover” about a high school party that gets way out of control. Cooper, a young actor in his early 20s, graduated from Northview High School in 2008 and attended Arizona State University for one year before heading to Los Angeles to try his hand at acting. Since filming “Project X,” Cooper has completed a short film entitled “Marriage Drama,” which premiered exclusively on FunnyOrDie.com. “Project X” will storm the nation starting this Friday, March 2.
The Carroll News: How was the transfer from the five-and-a-half-minute short “Marriage Drama” to the hour-and-a-half-long film, “Project X”?
Oliver Cooper: Well “Marriage Drama” was after, but it was something I wrote and did with my best friends and had more creative control in it. In “Project X,” I didn’t have control at all because it wasn’t my movie. Shooting a movie takes over six weeks where as shooting “Marriage Drama” only took a day on a small set.
CN: Obviously “Project X” is a film that has caught a lot of attention, but have you ever been nervous that not completing college in such a competitive market would hold you back?
OC: College is great and for some people it’s awesome, but for me it’s a complete waste of time. I didn’t take it seriously. Even if it didn’t work out I wouldn’t go back because it’s not for me. If something doesn’t work out then I’ll figure it out somehow.
CN: Did you have a friend growing up in Toledo that always volunteered to host the house party?
OC: Oh yeah, my friend Jake always had the parties and his parents were pretty cool about it, but actually my house was the party house a lot of the time and my parents didn’t really mind. I never really wanted to have them but my siblings always did and they were sort of instigating me to have them. We were never the tattle-tale type siblings. In sixth or maybe fifth grade, my parents were out of town and my siblings, who were in high school, had this massive party – over 100 people, cars were lined up down the street. My friend’s mom was asking if everything was OK and I was sitting there drinking a beer.
CN: You did stand-up comedy in high school and out in Los Angeles, do you plan on just acting from now on, or would you like to continue to do stand-up as well?
OC: I was never very good at stand-up to be honest; it was something fun for me to do. I never had a polished act and there was something about performing I liked, but I prefer the acting a lot more and it’s more natural for me. I always wanted to be somebody else up on stage. I would say, “I wish I was like so and so.” But acting for me is easier to be content with who I am.
CN: What do you think about your mom saying that she didn’t even know that you were a funny person?
OC: I never think of myself as a funny person and I never really try to be funny. People would laugh at me because I would get so mad. They would laugh at me and it was unintentional, then I would start yelling and they would laugh. And that’s part of why I think I wasn’t that good at stand-up.
CN: In high school do you think your life style was similar to the way that your character is in the film?
OC: I wouldn’t say that, I had different phases in high school. Like I went through the ghetto phase and I was pretty annoying I guess for a while, but I have really calmed down since then.
CN: How has your reputation in Toledo changed since starring in a film?
OC: I can’t really say. You mean going from the local kid to starring in a movie. The only people who matter to me are my real friends and family.
CN: What did you think when you first read the script?
OC: You know, I was so excited to get it just because this was the first big break I had, but when I was auditioning I didn’t get to read it, it was a talent search and it was really pretty secretive. After reading it, I knew it would change a lot with the comedy and things. Scripts come together on scene really.
– Interview by Mitch Quataert