by Jason Harris
photo courtesy of Roadside Attractions
Actor and Comedian Dane Cook wanted to “share emotion and pain” he has experienced in his life in his new film, Answers to Nothing, which opened in theaters along with being available on video on demand this past Friday.
“With my comedy, I want to share my joy and positive experiences,” Cook said. “The main point of comedy though is people coming to laugh and enjoy themselves. What attracted me to this film is that I could relate to personal experiences in a different way. I can empathize with certain aspects of my character’s life.”
According to press materials, the film is “set against the backdrop of a missing girl case, lost souls throughout Los Angeles search for meaning and redemption and affect each other in ways they don’t always see. Ryan (Cook) and Kate (Elizabeth Mitchell) are in a strained marriage. They are trying to have a baby, but instead of bringing them closer together the difficulties are tearing them apart. Two strangers, sharing a home, they each lead private lives unbeknownst to each other. Ryan, grew up listening to the impossible romantic story of his grandparents’ courtship, but isn’t even sure he believes in love. He hates his mother for believing that his father is coming back, even though he left her 10 years ago, and he hates himself for following in his father’s steps of infidelity.”
Cook believes his character is “distancing himself from people and his emotions” even as his character is a confident therapist. He does believe his character is a “complex individual, but it is behavior we all do.”
“We show up every day to work and put on our game face, but people don’t know personal life circumstances,” Cook said.
As he filmed this movie, Cook didn’t want to let his fans down.
Being able to view his personal experiences in a different way attracted him to Answers to Nothing, Cook said. The film allowed him to tackle different philosophies, he said.
“You get to play pretend, but also share important moments in your own life.”
Actors are not always connected to their characters, Cook said.
“I understand some of the behaviors in feeling detached,” Cook said. “I lost both of my parents to cancer and when you experience something like that, you really hold onto those moments and hope you can grow from them … ”
The film, Mr. Brooks, led Cook to receive his role in his new film and his career grew from that, he said. Answers to Nothing director Matthew Leutwyler saw him in the film.
Cook made an audition tape for Mr. Brooks and received a call from Kevin Costner, who directed the film. Cook was told by Costner that was what they were looking for, he said.
There are people in Hollywood that Cook would love to work with.
Cook would love to work with Woody Allen, Jason Reitman, and Diablo Cody.
“I have met with Jason a few times and would love to play in his world,” Cook said.
He has met with Steven Spielberg, which he considers “one of the most poignant moments of his career.” Spielberg gave him some words of wisdom which has guided him in his life.
“I auditioned for [Spielberg] and got incredible feedback,” Cook said. “He is a big inspiration.”
He grew up loving comedic actors especially Gene Wilder.
“I really have a great respect for comedians that take on challenging roles, like Whoopi Goldberg in The Color Purple, Jim Carrey in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and Robin Williams in Good Will Hunting,” Cook said. “I know the pain that many comics have living within us. I love to see the way they can reach comedic audiences and then also [reach] those dramatic audiences and make them cry their eyes out.”
He thinks it’s great when a comedic performer can make people laugh and cry. He thinks “it’s magic” when that happens.
“I’d love to be able to do some of what I did in Answers to Nothing and some of what I did in My Best Friend’s Girl and create a character rich in all things good and bad that exist in us.”
Cook said if the role doesn’t come about, he may write it.
Cook has two independent films coming out next year that he hopes audiences will find. He is also working on a comedy for NBC for the 2012 television season. They are Detention and Guns, Girls, and Gambling. Detention is “a mash-up genre movie — it’s a horror, coming of age film” and Guns, Girls and Gambling stars Gary Oldman as an Elvis impersonator.
“I really look forward to people seeing that one,” Cook said about Guns, Girls and Gambling. It’s sort of a heist action film.”