Olivia Cooke Central STAFF   September 12, 2016

It’s not glamorous. [Performers of the past] are in such dire conditions. They’re not acclaimed performers like you see now, they are clowns,” said actress Olivia Cooke of playing a performer in pthe upcoming horror-thriller ‘The Limehouse Golem.’ She is joined by co-stars Bill Nighy and Douglas Booth.

Olivia Cooke Central STAFF   September 11, 2016

THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTERThe ‘Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl’ breakout actress is in Toronto with a drama from director Wayne Roberts.

Olivia Cooke is no stranger to the film festival stage.

The actress’ feature film breakout performance came in the Sundance standout Me, Earl and the Dying Girl, in which she played the eponymous “dying girl,” Rachel. Now, she returns to the festivals with Katie Says Goodbye, playing the titular Katie.

Wayne Roberts’ directorial debut takes places in a desert community, where a young woman dreams of fleeing for San Francisco., earning money for her move through waitressing at a truck stop diner and sex work. Christopher Abbott, Mary Steenburgen and Jim Belushi also star as characters that populate Katie’s small town, who both help and hinder her planned escape.

Ahead of Katie Says Goodbye’s world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival, Cooke spoke to The Hollywood Reporter from England, where she is currently filming Steven Spielberg’s upcoming adaptation of Ready Player One, her first big forray into the world of tentpole filmmaking.

The actress talks to THR about misconceptions about female roles, filming in the desert, her love of indie filmmaking and Steve Coogan’s Alan Partridge.

What drew you to Katie as a character?

I loved how hopeful and honest and pure she was even though she comes from a life of great hardship. She comes from a town where you are born there, then you die there. Despite all of these terrible things that happen to her, she remains so hell-bent on being hopeful and positive. It was something I was drawn to because I think I am such an eternal pessimist. [Laughs] I wanted to make her as fleshed out as I could because I think the challenge was that in someone who is hopeful is bringing layers to a person that can be one-dimensional.

How did Katie stand-out in comparison to the other parts that you are given to read?

I think sometimes Hollywood’s perception of a strong, female character is someone with a glossy mane, and she does high-kicks and can fight like a man and is really witty and sarcastic. And those are really fun to play when you get the chance, but there is something so strong innately about Katie that can be conveyed just with a look. She just wants to get out of her small town and start a career, and how she got the resolve to do so is left up for the audience to decide.

Did you have an apprehension starring in a film that portrays sex work onscreen?

Of course. I was really worried that it would be portrayed as passive. As soon as a woman engages in sex — which has completely changed now with amazing female filmmakers and creatives who are re-defining a “modern woman” — but within this small town setting, as soon as you are open about sex or engage in sex that isn’t monogamous, you are then condemned. When you have something like this in a film, it is always going to upset people, but it’s integral to the story.

With Katie Says Goodbye the sex work feels like it is portrayed in a very empathetic way.

I think sometimes when you see sex on film the character is portrayed as someone who has loose morals, which Katie doesn’t. She has never learned shame from sex because she has seen her mother have many different boyfriends. So sex has never been a taboo subject, it has always been more of a transaction. I think she sees it — and it may be naive but I think it’s very pure — as she is making the men happy and she is getting companionship and is being able to find her dream, moving to San Francisco.

How was the on-set experience with director Wayne Roberts?

It was the best collaboration of my entire career. He completely trusted me and I, in turn, completely trusted him. It was a marriage with a push and pull and sometimes we were completely in sink. It was super low budget and it was a shit hole where we were filming. The entire cast and makeup, hair and wardrobe were sharing one tiny trailer and had one bathroom between us all, but we were all so infatuated with Wayne and what we were making that it was just such a happy time. It was like a little commune.

How is the transition from a set like that into a larger film like Ready Player One?

It’s very different. You are just mind blown by what is created and the sets that you are on. Everything is so large. I had been spoiled with what I had done in the indie world because it has usually been just me and the director for a lot of the films. Now this is a huge cast and it’s a lot of waiting around. I am used to doing a two month shoot where every day I am completely living in it, but with this there is a lot of jumping in and out so it has definitely taught me how to endure and to focus. You switch off easy when you do a massive film, like you just go in your trailer and start watching [I’m] Alan Partridge or something.

It is completely more nerve-wracking, as well, doing a massive-budgeted movie. You are working with these massive actors that you have only seen in the movies and you only want to see in movies because you can be such an idiot when you meet them in real life.

When you are taking Katie Says Goodbye through the film festival circuit, starting with TIFF, what are you hoping these audiences take away from the movie?

I just hope that everyone hooks into the story and the performances. So much of our culture these days is about what explosion and laser beam performances can we watch next, and this movie is so grounded and small. So, I just hope people get back to basics and see relationships unfold onscreen again. I hope audiences can shed that visual stimulation with these huge blockbusters and relax into this world that is very small.

Olivia Cooke Central STAFF   October 15, 2015

INTOTHEGLOSS “I just got off of this big press tour for Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, which was insane. It was a plane journey every single day and it just knackered me because we were going from city to city in America—we’d be in Chicago for 20 hours and then we’d be rushed off to go to Austin. It was just this weird cycle where you’d wake up and not know what city you were in. Hotel to hotel to radio station. It was hard, but it was exciting—after that tour is done, we’re off to do it in Europe.

When they were auditioning actresses for the movie, it was never said that the actress would have to shave her head—it was like ‘Oh no, you know, wear a bald cap, it’ll be fine.’ But then two weeks before filming, going into production, I sent the director a really panicked email saying bald caps look awful even if you use the best makeup artist and hairstylist in the world. I’ve got so much hair and it’s going to look so bulbous…it’s going to take everyone out of the movie and I don’t want anything that I’m doing to tamper with the honesty of the script. So we shaved my head, and it was the best thing I ever did for the role and for the performance. There’s a scene in the movie when I tell the main character that I just feel so ugly and repulsive and we had just shaved my head the night before—it felt very real. Rubbing your head for the first time and feeling a bald scalp is just…I’ve never experienced anything like it. I didn’t realize how much I needed my hair in order to make myself feel beautiful—it should have just come from me. Also, I think my people skills developed a lot because of the shave. When a woman with a buzz cut comes up to you, you have to start a conversation with her. It was kind of fun breaking that barrier with people.

When I got here for the tour, my eczema was just raging. Now it’s not too bad but I really had to focus on what products I was using. I only wash my face with a blemish controlling face wash and a toner and a moisturizer at night. Then in the morning I just rinse my face in the shower and leave it because I think, for me, less is more. But this morning—because I knew I was going to get pictures taken—I put on this Laura Mercier Caviar Stick that I just smudged on my eyes with a brush and made it into more of a flick. Then I have black Dior mascara on my top lashes and brown eyeliner. I don’t really like to wear foundation, so I just dot concealer on my spots and around my eyes and put a bit of bronzer on for some shimmer. And Glossier Balm Dotcom is really good. I’m replacing my Lucas Pawpaw Ointment with it.

I love Instagram—particularly the fact that I can follow fashion houses and beauty brands and photographers and tattoo artists and also my friends at the same time. Keep it all so close. I have a private Instagram that’s just for me and my friends. I don’t have anything else. I don’t have Facebook, not even a private Facebook or a private Twitter. For me, social media is for stalking my friends and seeing what they’re up to. It’s the quickest way to see if they’re around. I never entered this profession to be a celebrity or to be a spokeswoman or to have my opinion heard. If I’ve got something to say, then I’ll say it, but I don’t think it needs to resonate with millions of people. Also, if I’m not getting work because I don’t have two million followers on Twitter then fuck it. I don’t want to be doing that sort of stuff anyway.”

—as told to ITG

Olivia Cooke Central STAFF   September 07, 2015

Her stories make you laugh and her rooted-in-reality performances make you cry. Meet Oldham’s finest, actress of the moment Olivia Cooke…

ASOS – When it comes to choosing film roles, actress Olivia Cooke has two rules. 1) ‘Would I actually want to watch this?’ 2) ‘Is this a well thought out character?’ Answer no to either and Olivia’s out. ‘I don’t want to be hanging out alone while the boys get all the cool stunts,’ she explains. ‘I’d go crazy. I need a challenge.’

This year, many women have echoed her manifesto with Rose McGowan calling out sexism in auditions, Patricia Arquette’s Oscar speech rallying for equal pay for women and Emma Thompson mocking ‘roles that involve saying to a man, “Please don’t go and do that brave thing. Don’t! No, no, no!”’
The difference is, Olivia is 21. She isn’t a household name and she hasn’t experienced decades of inequality, but what she’s saying, in her Oldham accent and through a butter-wouldn’t-melt smile, is “Don’t mess with me.”

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Olivia Cooke Central STAFF   September 05, 2015