Oliver Cooper is nominated for two MTV Movie Awards this weekend for his role in Project X. He plays Costa, the instigator of the legendary outrageous party and he earned nominations for Best Comedic Performance and Best On-Screen Dirtbag. He’s been campaigning to win so we got to talk to him by phone. If you didn’t catch Project X in theaters, it will be out on DVD and Blu-ray June 19.
CraveOnline: Congratulations on your nominations.
Oliver Cooper: Thanks, I appreciate it.
How are you getting ready for this weekend?
Promoting trying to win this thing. I’m going all over the country trying to promote Best Onscreen Dirt-Bag.
What is the awards campaign process for MTV Movie Awards?
We’re kind of creating it as we go. I’ve been traveling around the country. We don’t have a big budget, been taking Greyhound busses across the country trying to get as many young people to vote for me as possible. Sometimes I’m paying them off and stuff.
What do you anticipate your first awards show will be like?
I don't know. I guess we’ll see how it goes.
You’re nominated in two categories, so which category would you prefer to win?
Best Onscreen Dirt-bag. The other one I feel lucky to be a part of that one. I guess I feel lucky to be part of both of them.
When you have a character like Costa, is it the goal to be considered the biggest dirtbag possible?
I don't think it was my goal going into it but I guess after watching the movie I was like, “Yeah, I can see that.” That wasn’t the goal but I got a good kick out of all the reviewers when they would say, I think Richard Roeper called me the most annoying movie character ever. I got a kick out of that.
Yeah, at least I did something.
How do you size up your competition from the other on-screen dirtbags?
They’re all well known good actors so I don't know. I guess I‘m the only person that nobody really knows.
What sort of doors has Project X opened for you?
Well, just the experience of doing that movie is a life experience and then it opened the doors for me to get other jobs. It gets me auditions for things I wouldn’t be able to do otherwise. I’m doing a movie called Runner, Runner with Ben Affleck and Justin Timberlake. Brad Furman’s directing it so I’m excited about that.
How big a part do you have in that?
It’s a supporting character. It’s a really good part. It’s the most excited I’ve been about something.
What is your character?
He’s a college graduate from Stanford. I don’t want to give away too much.
Since people have seen Project X, are you getting recognized a lot?
Right now I have a beard so not really. When I’m with Jonathan Daniel Brown, the other kid from the movie, he’s always getting recognized. Rarely, I don’t really get recognized too often. I haven’t really noticed a huge jump. Occasionally, sometimes when I hang out with high school kids.
How did Costa change from when you auditioned to the actual film?
It’s funny. I wore that sweater vest to the audition. That was something I just liked and they ended up having me wear all these sweater vests and kind of the persona was the same. It was written to be a character that was kind of an ass or was a really strong character like that.
I understand there were some re-shoots. What changed when you shot more footage?
The movie was pretty much the same. They just added a couple story beats here and there and some small stuff. It wasn’t crazy.
Will there be different stuff for the DVD?
I don't know actually. I’m really excited to see for myself what scenes they added. We shot a ton of footage for that movie so I would imagine there would be some cool stuff.
Is this dirtbag role really Costa’s personality, or just an act he puts on?
I think it’s a little bit of both. I think it starts off as an act. He’s an insecure guy but then it’s like fame, it just sucks him in. You see that with people all the time, they get famous and that seems to be what happens to him. He gets famous at the end of the movie.
Famous in one night.
Yeah, famous in one night. He’s an egomaniac.
What sort of feedback have you gotten from high school kids? Do they get that it’s really not a good thing to throw this destructive party?
I think most people get that it’s a movie. No one’s ever said anything to me. They just say, “Oh man, great movie. That was cool.” I think it’s a movie.
So no copycat Project X parties.
Well, I guess they did. Watching some of those news stories about people throwing Project X parties but I haven’t really run into too many people. Movies have always inspired people to do things anyway. People that enjoyed The Hangover, you see them on Halloween or they go to Vegas and have a Hangover night in Vegas.
When you auditioned for Project X did you think it was a remake of the Matthew Broderick Air Force monkeys movie?
[Laughs] No, no, I did not think that. I had seen it but I didn’t even put it together until I’d gotten the part. Someone said it to me and I looked it up.
When you were shooting, had the found footage movies gotten big yet?
The only found footage movie that came out from the time we shot it ‘til when it came out was Paranormal Activity 3 and then Chronicle. So they were already doing a bunch of them.
Do you feel the characters in found footage movies all have something in common?
I don’t see that many found footage movies. I’m not a big horror movie person so I haven’t even seen any of the Paranormal Activity movies so I can’t really answer that. But no, every movie, especially this one, I think the characters are definitely different.
Maybe because they have to explain why people are videotaping, there may be a certain type of people that get into those situations whether it’s horror, comedy or action.
That’s true. I guess there’s got to be a certain type of person that will pull out of a video camera.
And there’s always one dirtbag instigator like Costa.
Yeah, that’s true. That’s true. Maybe you’re right.
What is next for you? Are you also in Grown Ups 2?
No, I’m not actually doing Grown Ups 2. I can’t because of Runner, Runner so I’m not doing Grown Ups 2.
That must be a great opportunity to have such conflicts that you have to choose one movie over another.
Yeah, it is. I’m very lucky and I got to meet Adam [Sandler] after I did Project X and he’s literally the nicest guy and he’s amazing. He gave me an opportunity to have a little part in this movie and it just didn’t work out. Hopefully I can do something with him again.
What would your character have been?
I was playing just a frat guy character.
What is it like to go from a found footage style movie to a full blown production like Runner, Runner?
Well, I haven’t done a big movie. I’ve done an indie film where it’s filmed normally, but I haven’t done a big movie set. I don’t imagine it’s really that much different. There’s more coverage and stuff but as far as acting goes, I think it’s all the same. You’re still playing a character and committing to it.
What surprises you about actually making a movie that you didn’t expect before you got into the business?
The amount of people that go into having something come out. There’s so many people on a movie set that do tons of stuff. I don’t even know how many, PAs, production people, editing and all the stuff that really makes the movie come together, there’s a lot of people involved.
How big a crew was at the house for Project X?
I don’t know numbers specifically but it was still a big movie. It was still a Warner Brothers movie. There were hundreds of people there.
Have you started Runner, Runner yet?
No, I start at the end of June and I leave soon. I don’t know the exact details yet.
How are you preparing for that role?
Just reading the script a couple more times, just trying to stay loose. I don’t have an exact process.