When speaking with an iconic, classically trained actor like Chris Cooper, one learns to be professional and reverent. So when the Kansas City native—and Academy Award winner—hopped on our call a few weeks ago and bellowed, “Miiiiichaelllllll?” in a wildly upbeat, sing-song crescendo, it immediately caught me off guard.
We talked about a wild slew of things in June’s cover story, but he really seemed to perk up when I asked him to detail a few things we might not know about him. Imagine my surprise when he grabbed his wife Marianne to chime in. The two have been married more than 35 years. The conversation quickly evolved into spirited banter between the three of us:
Chris, here’s a random question—you’re a little elusive. Can you tell me three things that people don’t necessarily know about you?
Chris: “Okay, this will pay off really well. Marianne! Get on the phone. I’m closing the interview—this interview—out with this question.”
Hi, Marianne! I need a smattering of things that people do not necessarily know about Chris.
Marianne: “Chris is crushingly funny—but he is secretly funny. He is one these people who will look across the room and suddenly he will do his Ronald Reagan impersonation with his face and then when you turn back, it’s gone. He’s sneakily funny.
Other things? He’s incredibly generous and kind. And this was the first thing that impressed me when I was dating him. I wasn’t even dating him. We were partners in an acting class and he gave money to all the street people in New York.
You don’t think people notice it, but Chris rocks all the time. I remember our caregiver was kinda terrified one day when Chris was rocking one day in the car as he was driving. And then she thought, Well, that might be something actors do.”
Funny, huh? Chris—if Saturday Night Live comes calling, what are you going to say?
Chris: “I would head for the hills. I’ll tell you—I’ll go as far as this; I might be a tag-along if Steve Carell does it. I’ll be the straight man.”