Some people just have it.
When you watch charismatic actor Scott Cohen, one word comes to mind, "unpredictable".
Whenever Scott gives a performance, he has a unique way of hooking the eyes of an audience, and helplessly drawing them straight into his talented clutches.
His characters are multi-layered. They have soul. Most often, they are a little mysterious. There's always something more seeming to be lurking deep behind Mr. Cohen's expressive, soulful eyes that speaks something intimate to the viewer. They feel a connection to the characters that he plays. His intriguing style of acting makes you want to know more. The more you watch him, the more addicted you become to those surprising Cohen trademark expressions.
One of hardest working actors in the business, Scott Cohen has over 80 different films and television shows to add to his credentials as an established actor. In addition to that, he also writes, produces and directs. As a matter of fact, Entertainment Weekly nicknamed him "Mr. February" back in 2000 for being on television 17 hours in one month.
That's one busy guy!
Photo by Jane Shirek
If there are still some people out there who haven't yet heard of Scott Cohen, you have to wonder where they have been hiding over the last two decades. Because let's face it, chances are, at one time or another, you have seen Scott Cohen in something. At first glance, the guy looks undeniably familiar, but maybe you just can't place where you have seen him. Then, it all starts coming together piece by piece like one big cinematic jigsaw puzzle when you realize this guy has been everywhere!
His repertoire speaks for itself.
Impressively, he has worked side by side with such high caliber actors as Angelina Jolie, Robert Deniro, Natalie Portman, Jake Gyllenhaal and Mel Gibson just to name a few.
Scott has graced us with his presence, appearing on such monumental television shows such as, Law & Order, NYPD Blue, The Practice, Gilmore Girls, CSI, Grey's Anatomy and the list goes on.
And if all of that isn't enough to make any rival actor long for a resume like this one, Scott Cohen's appearance on the NBC miniseries The 10th Kingdom (2000) sparked the development of more than 100 unofficial online fan clubs for Scott within a week of airing, immortalizing his darkly, romantic, fantasy character Wolf to achieve cult phenomenon status by his dear and loyal fans.
But, before moving too far ahead, it's best to find out where it all began.
Scott Cohen was born in the Bronx, New York.
He was the youngest of five children. His father, Jack Cohen was a jazz musician and his mother, Leatrice, was a teacher.
In the midst of a very musical family, Scott's original aspirations were mainly toward music, and to this day he remains an accomplished and talented pianist. In addition to the piano, he also plays guitar, french horn, drums, clarinet, and bassoon. A very fluent musician to say the least.
Still, one could say that acting was still somehow on the mind of young Scott. One of his earliest memories of acting was when he was about 5 or 6 years old. He remembered that he would dress up in his father's tails and sit at the piano and make believe he was playing the piano as if he was Leonard Bernstein.
Recently, we had the upmost privilege to speak one on one with Scott and ask him a few questions, regarding his most memorable characters, to try and find out just how Mr. Cohen spins that acting "gold" that only he can create.
What first inspired you to become an actor?
"Nothing really. I fell into it," Cohen said. "I was first studying to be a clown, seriously and I started working in a theater company and it just slid into a career and artistic endeavor."
Cohen is not clowning around when he says he studied to be a professional clown either. Scott attended the State University of New York at New Paltz with every intention to study music seriously, but as things go in life, he soon realized that he didn't have the discipline or patience to be a serious musician. It was about at that time in his life that fate intervened, when Scott became very intrigued by a course called Clowns and Clowning at the University. The class was already full. But that made Cohen want to be even more. Then, destiny opened a door and Scott was let into the class where he studied hard to become a professional clown.
After graduating, he briefly got a job in the circus, but it didn't last long. Scott was soon fired, because he wasn't as "happy" as the other clowns, being more of the dark clown. But it was that course in clowning that ultimately led to the start of his acting career.
His teacher in clowning had a theater company, and so Scott auditioned and got in where he developed his skills as a member of the Actor's Studio. Scott has said that he didn't actually choose to be an actor, but it was more that acting chose him. For him it was all about expression.
Paint us a picture of the first time you were on the theatre stage. Were you nervous? Excited?
"Good question. First time on stage was 9th grade in a Bertolt Brecht play 'A Man's a Man'. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life." Cohen continued, "I worked with the director because I was determined to be in the play, but he saw no part for me, so I convinced him that I should be the narrator and speak all the projections that Brecht has in the play. Dress Rehearsal was a nightmare. I had a huge speech in the beginning of the play and could not remember a single line. I felt horrible but never gave up and the run was a smash for me. It changed my life when I look back and the director was so patient and kind. Every time I am on stage I am blindly nervous. It is a horrendous feeling but then you fly and it is superb."
After studying at the Actor's Studio, Scott soon returned to New York City, where he found work as a substitute teacher, a waiter and bartender among other jobs. "I served Al Pacino a cappuccino when I was working at Jerry's in SoHo," Cohen said. "He gave me a $5 tip."
With his natural talent for acting, it wasn't long before work in the theatre found him. But Scott admits that it was his wife, Vogue model-turned-actress-turned-playwright, Anastasia Traina whom he married in 1989, who inspired him to see film in a way that was just as interesting to him as theatre was.
In 1990, Scott was offered his breakthrough role in his first feature length film, Adrian Lyne's Jacob's Ladder and the rest was history.
Scott & Anastasia with son Liam
The first time we witnessed a Scott Cohen performance ourselves, it was in the 1998 film, Gia starring Angelina Jolie. The film is a story of the life of Gia Carangi, a top fashion model from the late 1970s. The movie spans from Gia's meteoric rise to the forefront of the modeling industry, until years later when she is diagnosed with AIDS which leads to her untimely death. The film is strongly acted and a very powerful film. Scott plays the role of Mike Mansfield.
We discovered you for the first time in the film Gia. You had such an impact on us, with that role, it made us want to see more of you. What can you tell us about your character as Mike Mansfield? Was he an actual person that you could draw from or fictionally based on something you had to create for yourself?
"Yes, he was based on the owner of Elite Models I think his name was John Cassavetes? I forget right now." Cohen explained. "My wife was a model so she told me tons of stories of him and knowing Gia, so I had great research. And the director of that film was a great friend, Michael Cristofer. Betrayal and greed are easy to access... he was evil and I loved playing him. A time in our history that was filled with an enormous amount of money for an enormous crowd of people."
What was it like to work with Angelina Jolie?
"She was remarkable nice, hard working and clear. She called me the "prince of darkness" for a few years. I loved it," Cohen recalled.
Even we, at Cool Magazine have to admit,
that's pretty damn cool.
Very impressive, Scott.
Another standout role and character that Cohen began making waves with was an alcoholic detective named Harry Denby on the smash hit series NYPD Blue. The chemistry between Scott and series regular Kim Delaney turned, what was originally supposed to be a 3 episode story line, into 9 episodes.
So, Detective Harry Denby. Another interesting, compelling character. What's his story? There seemed to be more to the way you played him than the script allowed. He definitely seemed a dark character, but something behind the eyes told another story. There was more to him than meets the eye. Did you have any creative control over this character in any way? It looked like you had some fun playing him.
"I did. David Milch wrote a great part." Scott said. "I just listened to him and did it. One of my greatest experiences. His writing was genius and he allowed me to talk about it in a way that was so inclusive. Scenes we shot that were cut were the most intense... he shot those in order to get other actors to a place he needed them to be at... thrilling process."
Every actor has his or her own style. Their own way of getting inside the character and Mr. Cohen is no exception to the role. Out of the many roles that an actor plays, there is usually one part, one character, that stands out from the rest. The one role that makes an irreversible mark on the heart of its audience. For Scott Cohen, this character is none other than Wolf.
Wolf, is the darkly handsome, half-man, half-wolf, romantic lead in the NBC fairy tale miniseries called The 10th Kingdom. To watch Wolf, is to watch character acting at its finest.
Let's talk about the 10th kingdom ( our personal favorite ) Wolf is a wild roller coaster ride of a character! The intensity you poured into this role is electrifying! How do you prepare for a role that exists only in a fairy tale? Did you have to study animal behavior, because you seemed to incorporate a lot of that into the role, which is refreshingly original. We've never seen anything like it before!
"Why thank you. One of my faves as well. I did. I went to the zoo a lot and I watched tons of videos. Read all fairy tales and went to libraries to discover unknown illustrators and their renditions of wolves in fairy tales," Cohen explained. "It was a long process but long enough for me to absorb it all and put it into action."
Well, It definitely paid off. Wolf is still loved and cherished by many present day active 10th Kingdom fans all around the world. Not bad at all, Mr. Cohen.
Some actors incorporate their characters into their day-to-day lives, living as they lived, talking as they talked, to effectively become that person. Have you ever done this for a role and found it hard to leave the character behind?
"Yes..." Scott told us. "One of the biggest and most difficult and wonderful aspects of acting, but for others around you, miserable. I am a pretty imaginative person so my life sometimes takes on different people, it becomes slightly annoying now to me, because I have a very full life without them, but I sometimes feel schizophrenic when a great part comes in. I am much better now than I used to be at separating it all."
Scott Cohen and Natalie Portman in The Other Woman
There have been so many great movies, so many memorable characters. If you could choose one dream role from the past or present, which one would it be?
"Dream role that I haven't played... Hamlet. Dream role I have...Wolf."
So, we've talked all about the films and characters of Mr. Scott Cohen, but what about the best film he's seen so far in 2017? We asked him to reveal his personal choice.
"Oh... tough," Cohen said, "I love so many. I am not that discerning. I see merit in a lot. "Maudie" is one of my favorites. The performances are amazing. A lot to learned both emotionally and technically. Ethan Hawke and Sally Hawkins really took me on a journey."
While we were wrapping up this perfect little interview, we couldn't let Scott Cohen get away without telling us what's next for this talented actor.
"I am trying to get "Tenth Kingdom 2" off the ground." Scott revealed. " I am in a SHO series called "I'm Dying Up Here". I have a bunch of smaller films coming out. Just finished 3 films, an Adam Sandler flick, a psychological thriller called "BRAID" and a divorce drama called "South Mountain." I have another film headed to TIFF this fall. I am producing a film and another series." he concluded.
So, there you have it.
With a bundle full of exciting new projects on the way, the brilliant and multi talented Scott Cohen isn't planning on stopping anytime soon - And we wouldn't have it any other way.
By J & M Shepherd (2017)