An Interview with Tracy Coogan – By Joshua LeSuer

Hailing from County Meath (that’s in Ireland), Tracy Coogan has the pale beauty of an ice queen and eyes like razor chips of diamond. She had her first acting gigs at The Mercy Convent, where she went to school. She’s since gone on to stage and cinema glory here in America. The Times calls her a solid performer. Efilmcritic calls her "incredibly cute and charismatic". We at Rogue Cinema call her an honor and joy to interview.

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 JLS – I understand you got your start in a Woody Allen movie. What was that like?

TC – That was so much fun. My best friend, Jodi and I went to a massive cattle call in New York. We were just two girls having a fun day out. We didn’t think we’d even get in. They were handing out numbers and we didn’t even get one. But we hung in there and then we were sitting outside someone’s apartment and this guy came over and said, "You two, come with me." He walked us right in and we met Woody Allen. It was so cool. He’s very quiet. So many people were in this project. It was pretty fun to be around all of them, especially Kenneth Branagh, as he is a fellow Irishman.

JLS – What magnetized you to the field of acting?

TC – I used to watch all the oldies with my mother. She knows every actor and actress. She used to talk about it with such passion. She loved it. Still does. I blame her. It’s such a great feeling when you’re fully connected to a character and project.

JLS – I understand you’ve done some stints in New York theater, in plays like "Poor Beast In the Rain" and "The Playboy of the Western World". What are the different appeals of film and theater? Challenges? How does theater acting aid you in your film work?

TC – Theater is raw and spontaneous. Scary as hell. I would get so nervous, afraid I would forget my lines. Sometimes you would and you just have to keep going. With theater, you get to do it once and that’s it. With film, you get a second, third, tenth take, depending on the budget. Silly things would happen on stage. One time, in "Poor Beast," the handle of the door came away in my hand. I couldn’t even say my last line, I was laughing so hard. I love theater. It’s great to get the immediate reaction from the audience. They’re another character in the play. Theater makes you a better actor. You’re constantly working your muscles and exploring.

JLS – What was it like shooting "Love Without Borders," which, I understand, was shot in Moscow?

TC – Going to Moscow was a great experience. There’s so much history there. The people are great. It was a hectic shoot. I was playing two characters, so I had very little time to really get to visit all of Moscow, but I learned so much.

JLS – So. "Zombie Honeymoon"! Intriguing title. What was that one like? What was it like starring in a cult horror film?
TC – At the time, we didn’t know what was going to happen with "Zombie Honeymoon". It got some momentum and then kept going and going. I love it. Dave Gebroe is so great. He’s extremely passionate and driven. He knows what he wants and goes for it. The first day of shooting was really intense. We started with the hospital scene. You could have heard a pin drop. It really set the bar for the rest of production. There was no going back from that point, for sure.

JLS – How about "The Devil’s Dungeon"?

TC- I same into production towards the end. Everyone welcomed me. It was a great set to be on. I did an interview with Fangoria on set. Graham McTavis was awesome and Garrett Jones was so nice. Jake shot the movie at a mental institution. It really added a creepy vibe to the movie.

 JLS – For your latest outing, you’re playing a terminally-ill woman slowly spiraling into madness, in "Dark Woods". What are the challenges of the role? How did you prepare? What drew you to this particular character?

TC – We are in pre-production right now. We start filming this winter. I have a lot of work ahead of me. I really like how complex my character is. There’s many levels to Susan Branch and I get to explore and play around with that.

JLS – As an actor, how do you conjure your characters? Do you have any particular stratagems? Research, maybe? Method acting?

TC – I’m immediately drawn to the emotional life of the character. That’s what drives me. I get deep into what they’re feeling, experiencing and the situation they are in. That’s where it starts: lots of reading, lots of movies. One of my favorite performances is by Gena Rowland in "A Woman Under the Influence". There are so many performances that inspire me. It’s amazing, the feeling that I have when I let myself be completely vulnerable. Also, my imagination, my mind, is a scary place.

JLS – What films inspire and galvanize you as an actor?

TC – "A Woman Under the Influence," "La Vie En Rose," actors like Judi Dench, Helen Mirren, Sean Penn, Johnny Depp and, of course, Daniel Day Lewis. There’s so many.

JLS – What’s it like acting a continent away from home? What made you decide to make such a colossal move? How has it affected your acting career?

TC – I need to spread my wings. Moving so far away was not difficult, at all. Besides, my family is never far away. I talk to my sister almost every day. And I have my amazing husband to help me keep my head on straight.

JLS – What’s on the plate for you next? What are some of your aspirations?

TC – Well, I start shooting "Dark Woods" in the winter and I just finished shooting with Owen Land on his project, "Dialogues," which will premiere in Switzerland next year. I also finished a short called "Return to Sender," written and directed by German filmmaker, Boris Schaarchmidt.

JLS – Lastly, where would you like to be in five years?

TC – Where do I start? I want to work with Michael Haneke, Roman Polanski, Terence Mallick, Sean Penn, Johnny Depp, Cate Blanchett and Gena Rowlands. I want to tell great stories and have a real presence in the industry with integrity and passion and purpose.