As Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter rounds out its first weekend in theatres, I thought I’d take a look at the filmography of one its stars (and a Times Like Those favourite up-and-coming actor), Dominic Cooper.
While Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter may have only pulled in a disappointing $16.5 million in its first weekend, Cooper is showing no signs of faltering with his career. He seems to be taking a slow-building approach, appearing in supporting roles in a lot of big movies. In fact, it’s almost guaranteed you’ve seen this guy, even if you don’t know him by name. And while movies like Mamma Mia!, Captain America and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter may not be the best vehicles to show his acting skills, they’re getting his face out there. And that recognition seems to be paying off, since he’s got a whole slew of acting projects on the horizon.
Cooper has played a range of characters and proven to have charisma and acting talent. But I don’t think we’ve seen the best he has to offer, yet. He’s worked with some skilled filmmakers, certainly, but not any huge names, and I’d love to see someone like Scorsese or Tarantino snap him up and make something great.Here’s a look at my five performances by the young Brit.
5. The Duchess (2008)
The Duchess came at the peak of the costume drama portion of Keira Knightley’s career (Miss it? Don’t worry – Anna Karenina‘s coming this fall!) In the film, Cooper plays Charles Grey, a politically active young man who comes between The Duke and Duchess of Devonshire (played by Ralph Fiennes and Keira Knightley). This isn’t the meatiest of roles (considering what an important character he is, Grey comes off more like a Jane Austen love interest here), but Cooper makes the best of it. He and Knightley have good chemistry, and you really want their characters to make it work.
4. An Education (2009)
Dominic Cooper and Rosamund Pike could have easily been throwaway players in An Education. They both had small roles, playing the high-flying friends of Peter Sarsgaard’s David. Yet both actors made big impressions here. Cooper, especially, brings world-weariness, and a sense that his character is a guy with nothing to lose, even at such a young age. Initially just seeming shallow and gluttonous, his character becomes more morally questionable as the film goes on, and Cooper deftly explores those complexities.
3. Starter for 10 (2007)
This underrated charmer of a film gave us a few good before-they-were-famous performances: James McAvoy, Rebecca Hall, Alice Eve, Benedict Cumberbatch, and, of course, Cooper. I think Cooper’s at his best while playing a roguish charmer, and that’s exactly what he does here. He plays Spencer, McAvoy’s ruffian best friend from back home. Cooper once again makes a small role memorable, bringing charisma and genuine heart to his wily character. Great little film, all around.
2. The History Boys (2006)
Mamma Mia! may have been the first introduction most film audiences had to Cooper, but he actually had a successful theatre and British television career for years before that. He was involved with the theatrical production of The History Boys from its beginnings in 2004, and he reprised his role as Dakin for the 2006 film adaptation. (Did you know The History Boys play hit Broadway and won the 2006 Tony for Best Play? I certainly did not.) Cooper once again plays a rabble-rouser, but there’s also an emotional complexity to Dakin that is compelling to watch unfold. The generally light story takes some unexpected turns in the second half, and Cooper handles all of them brilliantly. It’s obviously a character he knows very well, and after seeing his performance, I couldn’t imagine anyone else playing it quite so well.
1. The Devil’s Double (2011)
Easily the high-water mark for Cooper’s career thus far. In the eyes of many critics, we went from charming supporting player to legitimate leading man. And not only did he finally get a leading role in the The Devil’s Double – he got two. He plays Uday Hussein (son of Sadam), and also Latif, the man who is forced into being Uday’s “double” (meaning he poses as him in dangerous situations). Cooper is terrifying as the demented Uday, and also relatable and vulnerable as Latif. He turns in two fantastic performances in this intense but ultimately undercooked thriller. More of this, please.
Yet to See: Tamara Drewe, Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, Sense and Sensibility, Freefall