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An Education - Dominic Cooper interview

An Education

Interview by Rob Carnevale

DOMINIC Cooper talks about appearing in An Education, why his character interested him so much, revisiting the ‘60s and what aspects of it he would have liked to have experienced first hand. He was speaking at a press conference held during The Times BFI 53rd London Film Festival.

Q. Why did Lynn Barber’s memoirs prove irresistible?
Dominic Cooper: I found out about it quite late on but was very attracted to it immediately because I knew that it was Nick Hornby’s original screenplay that hadn’t been adapted from one of his books. I grew up with his books and loving his books. I knew nothing about Lynn Barber’s memoirs at all, but just knowing that it was a screenplay by Nick I was very interested. I loved the idea of everything about it once I’d read the script but then didn’t hear anything about it for months, only to be told I needed to be on set the following day to film! So, that’s how I came to it.

Q. What appealed about your character?
Dominic Cooper: Well, I found him interesting because he is from the world that the others are all so desperate to be a part of. I think he probably comes from a very affluent, very educated world. He has everything he desires and he has very particular tastes. He knows everything he likes and wants, and he has enough wealth, which always begs the question why on earth he goes around stealing pictures from old ladies’ walls at night. But I think it’s probably for the absolute thrill of it. And I think he probably lets things pass with regards to his friends…

I feel like he’s seen this happen time and time again, although suddenly he’s confronted by a girl who suddenly enters his world who is as fascinated and excited as he is in all the riches he has, and the culture and the music. I think that completely throws him and, for once, he makes a stand against his friend and feels a lot of care and almost love towards this girl. He vaguely tries to say something but it’s a very difficult thing to tell someone: “I don’t agree with what you’re doing.” But he ultimately becomes rather nasty and shielded again. So, there’s a very dark side to him even though he attempts to have some kind of moral value.

Q. Is there anything that interested you about the ’60s and anything you’d have liked to have experienced?
Dominic Cooper: I think it would have been terribly exciting to experience the transition that was about to take place with the music and the fact that The Beatles and The Rolling Stones were recording. Music was about to change dramatically and certainly in my life I’ve never experienced a culture that has changed that much. I think that would have been tremendously exciting. Our film is set on the cusp of that but to have experienced all those new things…. was the pill about to be launched? Terribly exciting… I’m continually embarrassing myself! But the dancing… I’m for the dancing.

Q. Were you a rebellious teenager?
Dominic Cooper: Yeah, I stupidly ignored education completely and couldn’t understand what I was doing there or what people were trying to teach me. I found it particularly dull and was much more prepared to inter-act with people and cause chaos and having fun. I now regret this massively but luckily just managed to get some sort of academic results to lead me onto the next section of life. So, I was terribly rebellious and feel very guilty towards the teachers who were prepared to spend their time trying to teach a bunch of morons stuff they knew, which we weren’t prepared to learn about. But I blame the school [laughs]. I didn’t understand why in geography I wasn’t learning about places and countries, as opposed to the texture of soil and the acidity in it.

Q. How much did getting into costume inform who you are? And is there anything you’d have like to have kept?
Dominic Cooper: I’d have liked to have walked off with most of mine but they don’t allow you to anymore. It’s impossible to get away with it. But it always helps with getting into character. It makes you feel much more part of the world you’re supposed to be inhabiting. The fact we all had hats, suits and nice shoes was nice. You’re desperate for anything to help you out. I think they were all vintage and all hired… I don’t think they were made.

Read our review of An Education

Read our interview with Carey Mulligan