Christian Cooke has been fine-tuning a Scottish accent for his return to television as the lead in a new two-part thriller, Stonemouth. The BBC2’s drama is based on the 2012 novel by the late Iain Banks. The 27-year-old actor best known for The Promise and Cemetery Junction plays Gilmour, who returns home for his best friend’s funeral two years after being run out of town.
You started acting at the age on 10. Was it your choice or something your parent’s chose for you?
My mum took my brother and I to a local amateur dramatics school in the evenings after school and I just loved it. It was very much a suggestion from my mum and something that I immediately fell in love with. Over the years my mum sacrificed a lot to take me to auditions, pay for classes and chaperone me on set. I owe it all to her really.
How hard has it been to get a break and did you ever consider giving up acting?
I don’t really consider myself to have ‘broken’. I’ve just amassed a body of work over the years that has got better. It has been hard at times in that I’ve faced a lot of rejection over the years, as every actor does. You certainly have to be thick skinned and you have to believe in yourself and want it enough to persevere. I think if there’s any other career you can see yourself doing you should do it. You should only be an actor if it’s the only thing on earth you want to do – because it’s certainly not for the faint hearted. It’s also a privilege to make a career out of something which is your main passion in life so I’m also extremely grateful and fortunate.
What is the most fun you’ve ever had making a film?
Out and out fun – Cemetery Junction. It was a long hot summer and we laughed every day. I also made great lifelong friends in Tom [Hughes]and Jack [Doolan]. Ricky [Gervais] and Stephen [Merchant] were hilarious to work with. It was also my first film and the first job I was wholly proud of so that made it more enjoyable. I felt like that film validated me in a lot of ways.
Is directing something that you would be interested in doing?
Yes. I’m directing a short film called Edith in the autumn, written by the novelist Ray Robinson and starring Peter Mullan. It will be my second short film. I can’t wait.
How do you take criticism?
Depends who it’s from and what they say.
What’s your favourite film of all time?
If you’re a true cinephile like me you can’t have one favourite film. The list is long. The films of the seventies are particularly inspiring to me. It was an era that allowed a lot of young auteurs to come through and make films they wanted to make. A lot of young mavericks were allowed to be artists.
Do you feel the pressure to stay fit and how do you keep in shape?
I stay fit as a passion I don’t really feel pressure to stay fit. Although occasionally you have to be in shape for a film or TV show. I work with Dalton Wong and TwentyTwo training who is the greatest trainer around !!
We’ve heard you’re a real foodie and you follow all the food accounts on Instagram. What are your favourite restaurants in London?
I love eating out. Favourites restaurants change. I go through phases. I love Ottolenghi. Yalla Yalla. The Smokehouse. Dishoom. Social Eating House. Barrafina. I’m looking forward to eating at Story. Tom Sellers has done extremely well for someone so young. It’s like films….very hard to choose one restaurant.
Your favourite city in the world?
London is the greatest city in the world.
Can you tell us about any upcoming projects that you are involved in?
I’m involved in a TV show for Sony Crackle called The Art of More with Dennis Quaid and Kate Bosworth. It’s about a blue collar guy called Graham Connor who I play, who gets a job working for one of the top auction houses in New York and who leverages his way into this exclusive existence by exploiting his connections to antiquities smuggling rings he was exposed to as a soldier in Iraq. It’s a really fascinating world and one which hasn’t been put on television before so I’m really excited for the journey.
Stonemouth airs on BBC One Scotland from Monday 8th june & BBC Two from Thursday 11th june
Interview and photography by Andrea Vecchiato
Make up by Gloria Penaranda
Grooming by Gavin Cornwell @ The King’s Canary Salon
Styling by Gerald Clarke
Clothes by L.B.M. 1911
Photographer assistants: Alex McBride and Rahideh Afsar