Dominic Cooper: ‘I eat vast quantities of cheese to wind down’
Brought up in Greenwich, London, Dominic Cooper trained at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. In 2001 he made his stage debut in Mother Clap’s Molly House and in 2003 starred in His Dark Materials, both at the National Theatre. In 2004 he was cast as Dakin in Alan Bennett’s play The History Boys; he played the role around the world and starred in the film adaptation in 2006. The same year, he was nominated for a Drama Desk award for the play’s Broadway production. He is starring in The Libertine at the Theatre Royal Haymarket until 3 December.
What’s your pre-stage ritual?
It always starts with such good intentions, but ends up getting more and more chaotic. When I begin, I head to the stage when the auditorium is still closed; I like to lie down on the stage and breathe. Before the first night, I go among the stalls with another cast member, feeding each other lines to get a sense of the acoustics. But when you become more comfortable, you push it to the brink. I remember, from The History Boys in New York, a bunch of boys hurtling through the stage door with a red-faced stage manager in a sweaty panic, while we had pizza falling out of our mouths.
Have you ever missed an entrance?
Yes. I’ll never forget sitting with one of the History Boys, Andrew Knott, on the fire escape, chatting some sort of garbage about how one would rob a bank, and hearing these screams: our cue had been made and people were just improvising on stage because they didn’t know what else to do, and we’d missed almost the entire scene. That was lack of professionalism – it was after doing the play for years, but you can’t ever allow that to happen.
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