We talk with Emory Cohen from The Place Beyond the Pines
Audiences might be familiar with 23 year old actor Emory Cohen from films like Afterschool which screened at Cannes and as Debra Messing’s son Leo in the NBC series Smash but his performance as AJ in the new film The Place Beyond the Pines as Bradley Cooper’s son AJ is sure to gain him some more notice.
You are part of a great ensemble and there are some really great performances in this movie. I was wondering, I had heard that the casting was crazy and they saw a huge amount of people for some of the roles, what was that casting process like?
You know it was funny, it’s such a big movie for me but the casting process was seemingly so normal. I got the break down from my agent and went in and read for [but] didn’t hear anything for awhile then got a callback which I had to do on 3 hours of sleep because I was shooting overnights at the time for a film called Four. A couple days after the call back, I just got the job you know.
I thought you had a really authentic performance. I teach high school on Long Island so I think that I’ve met people like your character AJ before. I know you grew up in New York City. Have you ever seen parties like the one’s portrayed in the film? How realistic is that do you think?
I’d say for that environment and for AJ’s world it’s very realistic. My world, I’ve been to a couple wild parties but nothing like that but AJ, if AJ’s gonna throw a party it’s going to be nothing less than something you’d see in a hip-hop video and I think that we captured that and it has do with his mentality and his style, you know.
Yeah, that’s right, you know it’s funny too because Derek, the director, had shot a bunch of hip-hop videos earlier in his career.
Yeah, he did a Run DMC documentary.
So you know the movie’s really about the nature of masculinity and fathers and sons. Did you guys talk about what it’s like to be a man today and how these characters approach it?
I think we did without doing it directly. I think that AJ’s issues have so much to do with what it means to be a man and we would talk about pain, which has to do with masculinity. Derek and I communicated a lot through boxing and this idea of war and that my character is going to war, which is the machismo side of masculinity so I think indirectly we did.
That’s interesting. What was it like filming in Schenectady, NY? I heard you guys didn’t have any big trailers or anything like that, you were essentially just hanging out in town.
No, no but to be honest with you, I haven’t really been on many jobs where I had a trailer. I don’t like trailers because I feel like it’s important to be on the street and be in that world you know. My character isn’t stepping out of a nice little cozy spot with a TV and 15 bottles of water to go do a scene you know? I like to really be on the beat. Schenectady was the perfect place to shoot and it was really important to be there because your mind had to get involved with that world because that was where you were living for the duration of the shoot.
That makes sense. I’m also interested in your role on Smash. What was the experience like working on that show?
It was exciting. It was different you know? I’d never done TV before, so it was really fulfilling. I really enjoyed being able to go to work every week on set with new material. It was also really exciting because I’m not from the musical theater world either. I really didn’t know very much about it and to meet a guy like Brian Darcy James who’s such a terrific guy, I didn’t even know him but my friends who are into musicals said that he’s basically like their god and to me the guy just seems like such a nice normal guy and then to find that out is pretty cool.
So this performance was great. Were you offered any new projects as a result? What have you been working on?
Well, I got this coming out and then a movie called Four this summer and then a film called Blue Potatoes in edit right now and I’m just reading scripts and seeing what’s out there.
The Place Beyond the Pines opens in theaters March 29th.