It’s never fun being on the wrong side of the law, that is unless you happen to be a member of the most powerful gang in town. But then there’s the moral dilemma that people don’t see that’s swimming through the heads of some criminals in thrillers, which is one of the many topics that’s discussed in Niels Arden Oplev‘s new movie Dead Man Down. While Victor (Colin Farrell) is stampeding around town seeking revenge, Darcy (played by Dominic Cooper) continues to walk the thin line between his life of crime and what could be a normal life for his family. We got the chance to talk with actor Dominic Cooper about his role in the revenge thriller along with his role in the new BBC miniseries Fleming.
When it comes to Dead Man Down, I like how determined and honest your character is even when it just so happens he’s unknowingly hunting down one of his good friends. Was that one of the main aspects of the project that initially lured you in?
Dominic Cooper: Yeah, I think it was the fact that he wasn’t just an outright criminal, he was kind of a criminal gone wrong but with a bit of heart who’s really broken. And actually finds himself caught up in a world that he has no clue what he’s really doing but is so desperate to make his life right with his girl and with his baby. He’s desperate to please. You know those people in life who end up getting involved with the wrong people and getting involved in crimes by mistake and they can’t get out of it and for the rest of their lives they’re just spiraling out of control. I think there’s a chance by the end of this movie that something positive could happen with Darcy. Everything could kind of, maybe, possibly be okay. It was definitely that dynamic that I like. I just like that there was more to it. There’s a bunch of stuff that’s going on, and I think I had to make him a bit fragile but at the same time you needed to believe that those people would be prepared to have someone like him in the gang and he was threatening enough, volatile enough, scary enough. Anyways he for me was interesting. He had multi-layers and he was very, very damaged and I like playing characters like that.
Is it particularly difficult to do accents? I’ve always been curious because I can’t do accents to save my life.
Dominic Cooper: Yeah you know it is somewhat hard. It’s part of what we have to do and you get help with it, but what you must never do is prohibit you from actually playing out the person. I think if you get too caught up in it, too kind of in your head about an accent because you’ll screw yourself up. You must be thinking in that moment. You must be very emotionally connected to that person and what they’re thinking and what they’re feeling and what they need to express. You have to do the work, you have to get it there, and sometimes you don’t make it and sometimes you think I haven’t… but you hope that the film is good enough and that your work is strong enough to make your accent not seem so dominant or if people are thinking about your accent then there’s something going wrong. [laughs] Where do I sound like I’m from?
You sound like you’re from the East Coast.
Dominic Cooper: Really? That’s cool. You sure? You’re telling me the truth.
I’m sure! Positive!
Dominic Cooper: Good. Okay, thanks. [laughs]
Were you familiar with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo movie trilogy prior to filming and did that make you want to step up more as an actor knowing that you’re working with this famous director but a solid actress like Noomi (Rapace) as well?
Dominic Cooper: Yeah, I mean I just love working with her and Colin (Farrell). I met Niels (Arden Oplev)… You can only go with your instincts with things like this in knowing whether someone would be capable of achieving what their vision is. He’s so witty and dynamic and intelligent and he expresses himself clearly. He knows exactly what he wants. I understand how much directors have to take on in that very chaotic environment. You have these artists that have all of this stuff that they’re wishing to express, to get out in a tiny amount of time while every single person comes from every direction nagging you for your brain, for your mind and your decisions. Again, when you first meet that person you have to be able to absolutely trust because you’re giving your bodies and your minds to them. You need to believe that they will mold that in a context and careful way that you have faith and trust so you can give them everything. When I met him I believed in him entirely and I was right when I watched him while we were working. I love how he was with everyone. His dynamic between his team, he never missed a trick in terms of the acting which was very, very important to me. If I didn’t always get right there he’d always let me try something different and then he’d help you with that. And Noomi, she’s a really good friend and I hope we get to work together more. We didn’t have quite enough to do in this but again, you look at that film and I loved it and you want to work with people like that because you can see proof in their eyes, they’re just alive and wonderful to watch and you want to be opposite to that, getting, receiving that kind of wealth of truth. That for me I had to do this. Of course I have to do this.
Speaking of Noomi, she’s mentioned about how one time you two went out for lunch and she still had her make-up on. It apparently was incredibly awkward because everybody was just staring at her.
Dominic Cooper: It is interesting. It was interesting for her because just seeing how weird people… understanding what it must be like to be slightly disfigured. I think she felt like she was being treated completely different and people were approaching her in a completely different way. It’s amazing how the tiniest of things and we’re obsessed with what’s normal and anything that’s other than that we kind of … People make assumptions I suppose and they judge and certainly if you’ve got a big scar on your face people will immediately assume you perhaps have been involved in some sort of violent world, who knows? There’s so many stories behind it. Our fascination is quite incredible and I think she found that kind of overwhelming, how differently people behaved towards her.
And another thing I really liked about Dead Man Down is that not only is it a revenge tale but it’s a little bit of a love story wrapped up underneath. It’s got some thrills in there but it’s very much about vengeance.
Dominic Cooper: It’s funny that we’re obsessed with revenge. We dream, we daydream about getting revenge and that happens to us and some are angry about not getting that. We all really deep down know the truth, the experience that I suppose, is revenge does nothing. It doesn’t repeal the feeling of anger or hatred or resentment or whatever that emotion is. We love watching it because we can kind of play out how you would love to react in a situation. It’s the daydream of playing it out. You never really would dare to do it, it would never give you any healing. So when we watch those films they’re fulfilling our dreams. Go on, get them! You’ve got to get him back for that! But it’s something we never reply to in our own lives.
And you’ve been awfully busy with your career as of late. What are you shooting now?
Dominic Cooper: That’s good. I’m really excited. I’m here in Budapest at the moment playing (Ian) Fleming actually at the moment, the James Bond creator. It’s hard work. We’ve been making it and we’re doing it really quickly. It’s really exciting. He had a very, very interesting life. He sort of saw himself as James Bond and I’ve learned so much about him, what he did in the war and with the secret service as a spy. It’s really interesting and it’s going good but beyond exhausted.
Dead Man Down comes out in theaters this Friday.