When Project X producer Todd Phillips was casting what would become the surprise hit of 2012, he was looking for young, unknown actors to create an authentic party scene to couple with the film’s point-of-view shooting style. Phillips found a rookie actor, Oliver Cooper, to play Costa, one of the instigator of the wildest party ever captured on film.
Since making his film debut in Project X, Cooper has been slowly building up his acting résumé, landing a small role in another Todd Phillips picture, The Hangover Part III, and working alongside Justin Timberlake and Ben Affleck in the 2013 crime drama Runner Runner. These days, Cooper has found a home in another star-studded ensemble, after being cast as Hank Moody’s oddly rambunctious son, Levon, in Californication.
In a phone interview with Den of Geek, Cooper talked with us about adjusting to life on television, the pressures of stepping on to an established show and the end of an era for Californication.
Project X was the first stepping-stone for your career. It helped lead to this current gig. Are you starting to see your time on Californication already lead to more calls and opportunities?
The more stuff you do, the more people go ‘oh he’s not that guy.’ For me, I really try to get stuff that is different. I think it has helped me and I’m getting more calls and opportunities for sure. I love doing comedy. I shouldn’t ever say no to any opportunities. If I feel like I can pull off roles I’ll do it.
You’re now a few episodes into having a regular TV role, are you getting used to seeing yourself on the screen every week?
I saw some of the [episodes] prior to them coming out so I knew what it was going to be like. It’s cool being on TV.
With this being your first TV gig, was there anything that surprised you about the production process?
I’m surprised how quickly we shoot things. Everything definitely moves a lot faster. It’s not necessarily a bad thing I actually kind of like that.
Is it easier going into a show such as Californication that is already established?
I haven’t had that other experience but I would imagine it is. On the seventh season of a show, everything is such a well-oiled machine.
I know you were a fan of Californication prior to being cast. Did you ever envision yourself fitting into the show?
I thought to myself I should be David Duchovny’s son in it. [Laughs] I’m kidding. I never pictured myself in it. I never really watch anything and go ‘where would I fit in.’
From the first handful of episodes it seems that your character, Levon, is better fit to be Charlie Runkel’s offspring than Hank Moody’s…
That’s funny I think David [Duchovny] says that in one of the episodes. But yeah I can definitely see that.
Did you feel any pressure going into a show with a veteran presence with the likes of David Duchovny and the rest of this season’s star-studded cast?
I didn’t feel pressure in that sense, but the pressure I think I felt was from the fan base. If you love that show you really love that show and I was a little nervous. I didn’t want to be the guy that comes in and fucks up the show for the fans. You really hope that people will buy into my character and the audience would respond in a positive way.
Michael Imperioli, who plays Levon’s boss Rick Rath, is a commanding on-screen presence. Does he bring that same intensity on the set?
He’s a very nice, low-key guy. He’s not at all like an intense guy. He’s a great actor.
Californication is known for its raunchy scenes. What’s it like filming those scenes? Does it command more takes?
I don’t think it commands more takes than anything else. I love filming those scenes. I’m kind of a depraved person myself [Laughs].
You had the chance to be on set for the wrap of Californication, what was it like behind-the-scenes on the final day of shooting?
I was there just one season but everyone was obviously a little sad it was over but at the same time really proud and happy they could do seven seasons of a show, especially a show that’s so well received. Everyone was really happy to be a part of it.