Emrhys Cooper is a name you’ll want to remember.
The Cornwall-born actor, who’s appeared in supporting roles in the likes of Desperate Housewives and Mamma Mia!, has landed the lead role of Thomas Hutter in the high profile remake of horror classic Nosferatu, due 2019.
But before then, the rising star’s causing a stir with his own movie: the sharp and sexy social media satire Trophy Boy – featuring one of the most repellant gay characters we’ve ever seen on film.
‘It’s been a passion project’ says Emrhys of the 13-minute short, which he also directed and co-wrote alongside Anthony Johnston, a writer on CBS’s Instinct.
Trophy Boy details the downward spiral of James – a picture-perfect social media star whose public image comes under threat when his older boyfriend dumps him.
‘It’s very close to people I know,’ he explains of the film, which screened as part of the Chelsea Film Festival in New York City and has already won a handful of awards. (It’s released online today; watch it on Vimeo here.)
‘A lot of the things you see in the movie are things I’ve seen, experienced or done,’ he furthermore adds. ‘I just think that whole duality of two lives, whether gay, straight or whatever, everyone can feel they want to show one part of themselves, and not another part. I was inspired by life, really.’
Following last night’s premier in NYC (attended by Star Trek actor Zachary Quinto), Emrhys discusses the perils of online engagement, a Trophy Boy TV series and how it feels to be part of the trailblazing Nosferatu remake…
My first question was going to be ‘How did you get all these pictures of yourself in all these glam places, with all these glam people for the movie?’ Then I checked your Instagram!
Yeah, I’ve lived a life… It’s funny, a lot of that was my own social media. I wanted it to feel as authentic as possible. We’re living in a day and age where, myself included, I look at all these people and I see these perfect lives – that makes you feel bad about yourself, when you’re having a shitty day or whatever.
I live a great life, but you know, it’s not all glamorous. That’s 5% of my life. The rest is ‘I can’t pay my phone bill on time’ or ‘I didn’t get that job’. I don’t share that stuff necessarily.
You go to these amazing locations – can you give some context to that?
Put it this way – I live an A-list lifestyle on a B-list budget! No, I’m very lucky: my sister runs a luxury travel company called Lillingston Travel. So, for example, the Maldives this year, that was comped because of her. Because of my social media following, they were like ‘you should tag along.’
I’ve done a lot of amazing things and it’s either been through work or generosity. I don’t come from a wealthy background and don’t have a benefactor. I wish I did! Life would be much easier! I’m just lucky to have worked with some really amazing people. Three years in a row I did movies in South East Asia – two in Bhutan, one in Thailand, one in Cambodia. All that stuff was real life and free travel.
As much as I understand social media, I also fucking can’t stand it. I think it’s great but at the same time I’m a believer in authenticity and living in the moment. I truly believe your happiest moments in life are when you’re with your friends.
I’ll take a picture now and again because it’s good to capture the moment. But I don’t like it when people are on their phones FaceTuning and captioning… That wastes precious time.
What do you think is the future for social media?
Facebook’s becoming less relevant, especially among the younger generation. People are over the bullshit. I think when journalism was actually a real thing… It’s either people bragging or people being negative about news stories that generally aren’t even accurate.
I think Instagram’s not going anywhere. But I think people are starting to wise up to the fact that a lot of these things on there are bullshit.
I think people will ultimately start purging. Social media’s not going anywhere, but there will be some sort of backlash. That’s almost happening with the next generation of people. Kids now, 10-year-olds are anti-Instagram. People I know are like ‘Fuck Facebook! Who goes on Facebook anymore?’ I rarely check it.
How do you think you’d have coped if you were a teen growing up with social media today?
I wouldn’t have coped well. I was quite severely bullied, punched, all sorts of shit went down and I had to leave school because I had a lot of trouble.
This documentary I watched the other day broke my heart. I’m going to get emotional now talking about it. It was called [A Brave Heart: The Lizzie Valasque Story]. A girl’s mother was featured in it – her daughter was on MySpace and these kids were like ‘You’re fat, you’re ugly, who the fuck are you, we won’t be friends with you…’ The girl walked up the stairs and hung herself.
I can’t fathom how these kids can digest that. I’m really glad I’m not a teenager now. I could deal with the shit that was going on with me, because it wasn’t for the world to see. Imagine having your dirty laundry and all this negativity [made public]. We need to do everything we can to stop cyberbullying.
Back to James, my character – if he was a teenager, he wouldn’t give a fuck! He’d love it!
What are you most engaged photos?
Sad but true, it’s the ones with my shirt off. I don’t believe in playing the game but I believe in changing the game. You have to build an audience, and then you have audience to talk about whatever you want to talk about.
I understand that while I’m still slightly aesthetically in shape I might as well utilise that, because five years from now I hopefully won’t be needing to do that. I’ll be the creator of a TV show. My goal is to be an advocate and a pioneer, doing work that has a socially conscious message. I don’t just want to be a pretty face…
So Trophy Boy is going to be a TV series…
Yeah, we’ve written the pilot and mapped out the first season. There are four characters – a really fun, feisty girl, a straight bodybuilder/personal trainer, a Todrick Hall kind of drag queen and Andy, who was in the short, the geek of the group. We’ve just signed to make the series with a company next year hopefully. It’s very exciting. The way the short finishes, you hopefully want to know where James and these guys are going to go.
Lastly, I’d love to know what filming Nosferatu was like…
I’m excited to talk about that! I just got some screen grabs sent through. It looks like the film’s coming out early next year. It was an amazing experience because I was a big fan of the original. The way we’ve done it is a homage to the original. It’s a scene-by-scene remake. The original is a silent movie, but we’re talking. But they took out the old actors and put us in. So it’s actually 90% green screens, so that was difficult.
It was an amazing experience because I got to play a really fun, multifaceted role. I have a lot of similarities with Thomas Hutter because when I got cast in that role I thought fame and fortune would make me happy. That’s what Thomas thinks, that’s what he goes after. I went on a similar journey in LA.
The filming itself – I got to work with Doug Jones, who was incredible. Joely Fisher, Sarah Carter; it’s great cast. It’s one of the best filming experiences I’ve had. I’m really excited and proud to be part of something that’s never really been done before. The technology they’re using, that’s a reason why it’s taking a while to be released, because the technology and the CGI effects are taking a while.
Did you have any nightmares during filming?
I had to do my own stunts which was quite funny… A little Tom Cruise [moment], jumping out of what is supposedly the castle, swing on ropes and stuff. It was actually quite fun. The difficult part was filming pick up shots a year-and-a-half after filming it! I had different hair, my wife in the movie was actually eight months pregnant… But that said, it worked out!
I actually meant, did the character of Nosferatu give you nightmares!
Oh, I’m sorry! No. Doug Jones playing Count Orlok was really creepy, so I didn’t actually have to act. It was genuinely really fucking scary. But I didn’t really have any nightmares because I was generally in a really good mood. Being an actor, 80% of the time it’s a pretty hard life. You’re between jobs, you’re having to audition, you’re trying to get your own projects off the ground. So when I work as an actor, I really think I’m lucky. I embrace it.
For more information about Trophy Boy, visit www.TrophyBoy.com.