Luke Cook is an Aussie actor best know for his work on The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Katy Keene and Guardians of the Galaxy 2. What people don’t tend to know about Luke is just how hard-working and passionate he is as an actor, writer and creator. He also has some of the most hilarious Instagram content knocking around and is worth a follow for sure. We were lucky enough to sit down with Luke a little while ago and talk all things acting, resilience, industry and creativity. Out of that fantastic chat (check the bottom of the page for the full interview) here are the top 5 biggest takeaways for me from this interview.
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1. “As soon as you get off the plane, go straight to an acting school and get involved with a community of actors”
Luke was really open about his experiences in moving from Australia to LA to chase his dream of working as a professional actor. He spoke about how difficult it was to move your life across countries and anyone who has done it can agree, it is really tricky! But his central point here is about establishing community. Finding your tribe, finding like-minded people who share similar interests to you and have a similar passion, of making a career as an actor. Luke described being in LA like ‘being in a city full of people who are trying to like get something out of you’ and it sure can be difficult. Getting a great community of people around you and learning some valuable skills at an acting school sounds like great advice!
2. “One thing I always did was work on British plays, and now my British accent is really good. That’s how I booked my job playing Lucifer on Sabrina was just because I was obsessed with British plays.”
You wouldn’t necessarily think that the thing to do, to book a huge role on a Netflix show would be to work regularly on your Noel Coward. But it was nearly exactly that, that ended up being the deciding factor for Luke. After working 5 hours a day for five years on his craft, particularly on his accent work for British and American plays, Luke had a great grounding in technique and real confidence in his ability. You also never know how your interests will complement your craft as an actor. Those horse riding adventures as a kid could help you book Marco Polo, your obsession with British theatre could be a leading factor in nailing a role on The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. What shows through most clearly for Luke here is his determination and passion for acting. Not acting, not doing it was not an option for him. He prioritised what he resonated with and when an audition came his way he was able to make the most of it. He followed his gut, his heart and his head on this one and it all came together!
3. “It’s still something I struggle with, I have this theatrical energy and I want to be interesting and they were like stop – just be with this person right here. It’s still something I’m learning”
Talking about becoming the actor he is today, Luke nails something here that I personally have struggled a lot with, and I know a lot of other actors have struggled as well! Sometimes, especially when you are starting out when you step on that stage or the camera starts to roll, you feel the obligation to be interesting. To show an audience that you are in the moment or a really great actor, or are just fascinating in general. This is a huge pitfall. The way to avoid it, as Luke puts it is just to be with the other person in your scene, really listen to them, be present with them in the world of the scene. Declan Donnellan the great Irish acting teacher and director says that ‘For the actor, there is always a target and the target is always moving.’ The target for the actor should always be the person they are in a scene with, being present and allowing their words to affect you and your words to affect them. The moment you try and do something interesting for the sake of being interesting or to prove something to the audience or director is the moment the whole scene collapses.
4. “It was just my life. I just made sure my entire existence was acting! … and also working as a busboy in a bar too… bit of that.”
Luke here clarifies something so important – if you want to be an actor, professionally, you have to make it the centre of your existence. You need to practice and practice so regularly that it becomes second nature. If that means you need to work nights as a busboy to pay the rent then that is what you do. Nicole Kidman worked as a massage therapist, Amy Poehler worked in an ice cream shop, John Hamm was a set dresser, Terry Crews a janitor, Harrison Ford a carpenter – the list goes on. You need a job that can support you and put food on the table and a roof over your head while you make the rest of your life, the rest of your existence about acting. Need a new day job? Check out our list of the best jobs for actors!
5. “I always knew, even when I wasn’t booking, even when an agent dumped me. I just knew. There was no doubt in my mind that this is what I was made to do. The more actors I worked with and the more actors I hung out with, the more I realized that I was right there with them”
This last point from Luke is so important. Confidence and self-belief are absolutely vital for an actor working in the modern industry. There is just so much rejection to battle with. It is almost constant. Luke talks about getting to LA and immediately booking two jobs, but being unable to do them because of VISA issues. Following that it took him four years to land a job! Four years of perseverance, of growth, of hustle, of networking, of establishing a community. And in the midst of that coming back to the central tenant of his belief in his own ability and his drive to have a successful career. You have got to back yourself. If you don’t back yourself, no one else is going to do it for you. It is important here to stress the difference between confidence and arrogance. Confidence is a belief in your skillset based on your past experiences and work ethic. Arrogance is a belief in your skillset regardless of past experience and work ethic. Confidence is essential. Arrogance is not.
So there you have it guys, just a couple of takeaways from our fantastic interview with Luke Cook. Check the video below for the full chat and see all of the other golden advice Luke has about life, social media, acting and auditioning. He is a really fascinating person with a tonne of industry experience and is really worth listening to. If you would like to see more of these interviews, we do monthly chats with industry experts from around the world in our online scene club, StageMilk Drama Club. Sign up for a trial membership and check out all of the amazing resources we have on offer for members only!