Welcome to the first ever Actor Spotlight.
My intention with this series is to share the stories of actors I admire in order to inspire and enlighten us all.
I met Sean Cook in May of 2011. We were both cast in Thunderballs, which shot in Spokane, WA. Sean and I hit it off right away. I fondly remember sharing stories over blueberry pancakes at a local diner. Not only is Sean an amazing and passionate artist, he is a wonderful friend and a source of positivity and strength for me, and I am certain, he will be for others who are lucky enough to be a part of his journey.
I hope you enjoy the interview.
Tell us your name:
Where do currently live?
Los Angeles, CA in the “Little Armenia” neighborhood.
Do you have an agent?
Do you have a manager?
Not at the moment.
Are you in the union?
Proud triple threat.
- AEA in 2006.
- AFTRA in 2007.
- SAG in 2010.
Where did you grow up?
My youngest years were spent in Louisiana. I spent 5th through 12th grade years in Cannon Falls, MN. But, I did most of my “growing up” in WA in my twenties.
When did you first discover acting?
I can remember the first time that I was emotionally moved by a performance. It was when I was a younger fella and a huge fan of Michael J. Fox in “Family Ties.” I was watching the episode where his character, Alex, had to decide if he was going to let the love of his life leave the state with or without a fight. I remember being gripped by his dilemma, his struggle to reach outside of his safety net in order to let someone know what he was feeling. Ultimately, he chose to jump in his crappy car and meet her at the bus station at her next stop to tell her how he felt about her. I was moved. I was too young to know why at the time, but I was able to recognize that Alex had worked through something and decided to take a leap of faith and that the universe responded. Alex got the girl. That experience began to nurture a fascination with fearlessness.
If you could chose any other career, what would it be?
Relationships are a powerful source of inspiration for me: familial, social, interpersonal, intrapersonal etc. If I weren’t in the business of show, I would be in the business of listening. You would probably find me leading a group therapy session.
Tell us an acting related success story:
While working with Jones Advertising on their 12 episode web-series called “Out to Launch,” Nike Imoru was in session casting “The Big Bang” starring Antonio Banderas. She and the director, Tony Krantz were having a second call for the role of the sex club “Bartender.” Knowing that I was in WA shooting, Nike requested an audition from me straight to Producer/Director Call Backs. The role was calling for a “Massive, tattooed, and intimidating presence.” At 5’8″ and 148 pounds, I am not quite that person. But, when the Boss calls, you answer the phone. I was shooting 12 hour days and got the sides the night before the casting appointment, so I was pressed for time (as usual) and having a great challenge trying to make this role “my own.” Finally, I discovered that my “Bartender” didn’t need to be physically intimidating. Understanding that the physical body is only one form of presence, I began to explore other ways of generating intimidation. Putting myself in the socio-situation that was given me by the script (“a sex-club Bartender/Manager”), I found myself imagining the overtly sexual presence of this guy. I GOT IT! His power or intimidation doesn’t come from his physical size, instead it comes from the unique way that he experiences the world sexually! After shooting and before my appointment I added a few simple physical choices to my Bartender. My hair was matted to my head with hand lotion and slicked back looking greasy and I wore a sleeveless t-shirt. In the waiting room for the CB there were about 6 guys, all larger than myself, several of which were bearded with arm sleeve tattoos. The usual Bad Actor thoughts started creeping around, “You made a HUGE mistake with this. I’ll be lucky if they even let me get the first line out.” Once I became aware of this cycle of negativity I asked the Bad Actor thoughts to find another stage on which to perform as I had work to do. When my turn arrived, I greeted Nike and Tony and thanked them for having me. Tony seemed humored by me and shoots Nike a glance as if to say, “this guy, huh?” The scene begins….The scene ends…Doesn’t it feel that way sometimes? Tony was EXCITED! He asked me how I came up with my choices and I went into my “Sexually Intimidating” theory. He loved it. The main action of the scene is that Antonio’s character grabs the Bartender by the nose ring to wrestle some info out of him. The way it was originally set up in the script is the “David vs Goliath” moment of the modestly sized Antonio facing off against a massively intimidating fella. When I played that moment, I decided that my Bartender was a pain addict and when Antonio’s character grabs my nose, firstly I was surprised, then it subtly and quickly turned into a brief moment of sexual cat and mouse. Having done my research, I learned that Tony Krantz was responsible for bringing “Twin Peaks” to the TV viewing public, so I decided that this choice may play well. I was right. I started the walk back to the hotel. Within 10 minutes, Anne Mitchell called to let me know that Tony would like to book me.
Tell us an acting related challenge:
My first producer’s session in L.A. for a 1 day role on CSI: NY was hard. My manager called me that morning to let me know that casting department had called to check that I was indeed coming in for the read, which, to my manager, meant that the role was mine to lose. So, I was going in as the apparent top pick for this one. That felt GREAT! When I was called into the room, I was absolutely taken by the number of people in the room, the lack of any introduction and the texting, lap-topping, small talk that was going on. I caved. I let myself get swept up in the “cold” room and it froze my creative flow and my preparation. My defenses for this are now in tact and I have actually trained on auditioning in several different types of rooms including; cold, angry, laugh-y, uninterested, hyper-interested etc.
Why do you do what you do (pursue the Artistic Path)?
Having had the honor and pleasure to hear Tony Kushner speak at an event, I think he said it best, “If you can imagine yourself deriving ANY inspiration or joy from doing ANYTHING besides working as an artist DO IT!!! If you lack the ability to do this, then I am forced to call you a contemporary.” I just can’t leave “the Kush” hanging.
How do you measure your success?
Simply. One moment at a time.
Do you ever feel discouraged?
Absolutely. I’ve been on the fence of throwing in the towel many times. I find that when I begin to feel low, it is usually because I am feeling a loss of control over my business and art. So, I have a few friends that know what to say when they start to hear the sadness in me. They remind me that I can take classes, stay healthy, and nurture myself to gain some of my “control” back. Those three have never failed me.
How do you deal with all the pressures of the actor’s path?
I read the Tao. Stay committed to health.
“Health is the greatest possession. Contentment is the greatest treasure. Confidence is the greatest friend. Non-being is the greatest joy.”
– Lao Tzu
How would you advise some one new to the industry?
TRAIN,TRAIN,TRAIN,TRAIN,TRAIN,TRAIN. All good things come to those whom commit.
Do you have a 5 year plan?
Yes. My agent and I have developed an approach for my next 3 years. A Television focused trajectory. 2012-13 we focus on building my Co-Star credit list and my relationships with the CAs and CDs in our target offices. 2013-14 shift into Guest Star submissions. 2014-15 is the year of the series regular. BOOM! Oh, and train. Duh.
What is the most valuable lesson you have learned about your craft or your path in the past year?
It doesn’t all have to happen right now.
What’s your favorite food?
STINKEY MONKEY PUDDING!! I am Co-Owner of a soy free, dairy free, gluten free pudding company. We are in 6 natural food markets in the L.A. area and also work with chefs and event planners for their vegan clients.
Do you have any pets?
None of my own. My old cat Unkie now lives with my friends Nathan and Katelynn. He is a talkative tuxedo cat with white gloves and is happily in is retirement phase. My girlfriend Marie has a little yorkie named Coco. Coco and I have an understanding.
If you could travel to any place in the world, where would you go?
Right now I’m sort of obsessed with going to Thailand to train in muay thai combat for several weeks. I’ve looked into these “fight camps” where you can live on the camp and everything you do is geared toward your training. That sounds pretty awesome to me.
What’s in your music playlist right now?
Chet Baker, Typhoon, Crooked Fingers, Edward Sharpe, Delta Spirit and obviously Carly Rae Jepsen. But only her song, “Call Me Maybe.”
Who and what inspires you?
Every artist I know should watch the documentary “Buck, The Real Life Horsewhisperer.”
Are you in class/training?
No Doubt! It is my JOB! I’m in on-going weekly classes at Lesly Kahn and Company.
Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?
My greatest challenge has been the slow process of understanding and loving myself.