Interview with Josh Cooke from "Finding Joy"
Movie Room Reviews was lucky enough to sit down and talk with actor Josh Cooke about his starring role in 2013‘s “Finding Joy”. Josh recently had roles in “I Love You, Man" opposite Jason Segal and Paul Rudd, and in TV shows like “Dexter” and “Better With You".
Nick from Movie Room Reviews: Josh.
Josh Cooke: Hey, how are you Nick?
MRR: Oh, I'm doing great. Just a perfect day outside, enjoying my life, you know.
Josh: Where are you based?
MRR: My office is in Ohio.
Josh: Ohio. Nice. I hear they're doing some more filming out there. Aren't they doing "Captain America" out there or something?
MRR: In Cleveland, yeah.
Josh: I'm in Brooklyn at the moment. It's gorgeous out today. Man, nice.
MRR: Yeah, I was just there for the Tribeca Festival. Brooklyn's a really great town.
Josh: Did you see any good films?
MRR: Yeah, I saw a bunch of great films there. Tribeca Film Festival is a cool time.
MRR: Yeah. I saw your movie. I've seen it twice, actually, because I watched it a week ago and I watched it again yesterday. It's a great film.
Josh: Oh, cool. How'd you like it?
MRR: I liked it a lot. It's different. It's nice. You've been in movies like, "I Love You, Man" and shows like "The Closer," "In Plain Sight" and "Better With You" and stuff like that, but your new role as Kyle in "Finding Joy" is a great role. It's a cool film and I just wanted to talk to you about it a little bit.
Josh: Yeah, sounds awesome.
MRR: Can you just give our audience a rundown of the film and your character as Kyle?
Josh: Yeah, sure. I play Kyle, who is a down-on-his-luck writer; had a fairly successful first novel, and has not been able to follow it up. Due to financial constraints and a generally bad disposition socially, with people, is first to move home with my Dad, who there's a lot of history with. I'm thrown into this bizarre lifestyle that's going on there with my brother and his wife and daughter and my Dad's new girlfriend, and I fall for this very wacky girl across the street, who sort of lives in own reality. In dealing with her, I'm forced to look at my own reality and realize that maybe I'm not the center of the universe, and need to become more of a human being.
It's a movie that's just chock full of very quirky characters. I think what I liked about was that these quirky characters -- there is a lot of it, so much of it -- but through that odd behavior that displaced them all from normal walks of life, they all learned from each other's oddness to be a part of a normal life, which is kind of a fun twist on, I think, traditional quirky movies.
MRR: Yeah, because you had a bunch of great characters. The Dad, played by Barry Bostwick, right?
Josh: Yeah, I love Barry Bostwick. He's great. He's a great actor. He's a good guy, too.
MRR: Yeah, a lot of people remember him from "Spin City."
Josh: Yeah, "Spin City."
Josh: And "Rocky Horror."
MRR: Oh, yeah, he was in "Rocky Horror." That's right. I think a lot of people remember him from that stuff. Then you had the crazy brother, and the Dad's girlfriend, who was a wild character.
Josh: Mm-hmm, Lainie Kazan. Yeah.
MRR: Yeah. Your character was this self-absorbed...or not self-absorbed, maybe self-centered kind of person. What do you think drove him to be so self-centered in the film?
Josh: I feel like there's a lot of the backstory going on with what happened with the mother. My mother, who had died years ago...It's sort of ambiguous as to what exactly happened, at least what you see in the film is ambiguous, but I feel like there was falling out in the family. A disagreement... The mother had some kind of a substance problem of some sort. It's not the focus of it, not the point, so it's never really addressed directly but I think it's what drove...I have this bone to pick with my Dad and I believe the way that he dealt with the situation was not the best way. I hold him in some way responsible for her death.
I feel like, as a defense mechanism, what I come to realize is that it's a misconception that I have about what really happened with the mother. I think that there's a lot of that that goes on in families all over the world, where you kind of have your own idea of events that happened.
They're not necessarily true, but they're true for you. When you're forced to face what actually happened, you perhaps realize that you had more to do...you were in some way responsible in a way that you don't want to admit.
I think that somewhere, deep down, you kind of know if you're responsible for something or not, that happens -- whether good or bad. If it's sad, some people's defense mechanisms kick in. I think, for Kyle, his defense mechanism was to bury himself in work and detach himself from the family.
As a result, I think when you're running from the truth, or running from responsibility in your life, you tend to wrap yourself up in self-importance and find excuses to disappear from the world or feel that you're better than the world, when really it's just you trying to convince yourself of that.
That's, I think, is someone who just got really wrapped up in that, and when he comes home all that false reality unravels.
MRR: Right. Do you think that's why...there were a lot of scenes in the film -- I don't know if there were "a lot" -- but there were many scenes in the film that were you by yourself, talking to yourself and figuring things out.
Josh: [laughs] Yeah. Yeah I think, again, a lot of the opening up is me trying to write and we -- Carlo and I, Carlo the director -- one of the things I really loved about him and wanted to do this movie was that he is a fantastic director who did this wonderful short film that's called "Larsen," and that's French for "feedback." It's a really almost fairy tale-ish kind of a story, and we wanted to bring a little bit of that aspect of...sort of a slightly heightened or a slight unreality to this character. Physically speaking, this character looks a little different. He's very stiff, almost Buster Keaton-ish, to a certain extent in the beginning and you have this physical transformation into a regular person by the end.
Part of that was this thing we came up with where, when I write, I sort of talk to myself and I try to inspire myself by...I'll say famous lines from movies, hoping that will inspire me and jump into something else. I think I say at one point, I'm just kind of waiting to write and I go, "Call me Ishmael. Call me, call me Ishmael. Call me, call me Kyle. No, no, no, no."
I go through these...it just was a ridiculous idea. But yeah, I think a lot of the talking to myself has to do with trying to inspire myself or trying to find any kind of original idea, and I think it's a guy who's devoid of original ideas because he is just lying to himself. That's where the talking comes from.
MRR: I thought that was played nice, when you meet Joy and you start talking to her -- it's almost like the director or somebody had to scare you to death before each scene.
Josh: You know, he had said something. He came to me at one point and he says, "Just think that you have never touched a girl before." There's a point when I first meet her where she touches my arm. He was like, "When she touches you, imagine that's the first time that you've ever been touched by a female, and [?] knowing just what it's like." I liked the idea of that because it seems like someone who is so isolated in this reality that he's made for himself, this false reality and his own narrative of events in his life that human contact is something he hadn't really thought of in a while.
Josh: I'm glad that came across. We took a big swing with going a little bit outlandish, perhaps, with the character, physically speaking. I think we both were hoping that it would add an element to this film. We thought, "What if we take a big swing with this person and just make this person someone who has absolutely created this reality for himself? So much so that it physically affects him, and then we watch the physical unraveling as he goes."
I'm glad that that came across. That's great.
MRR: Yeah. I think my favorite scene is -- that might be the same scene or, no, I think it's actually a different scene -- with the pants.
Josh: No, it's just before I go get the pants on.
MRR: Yeah. I think that's one of my favorite...
Josh: Yeah, at the end of the scene I realize I'm not wearing pants, so I have to go iron them. That was a thing, I was trying to remember what it was about the script initially that made us feel that this guy was so rigid and physically difficult. I remember there was one line in the script that said...It was that scene where I have to take the sister-in-law's pants, because mine have been creased.
I had ironed them and there was some line about having ironed my socks and my underwear. I thought, "Man, who the hell irons your socks and underwear? Right before they wear them, especially?" so I thought, "There's something going on with this guy, clearly, so we'll go that direction with him."
MRR: You know, after seeing this movie I know that I like the film. I was wondering, who do you think is going to like this film? What kind of people, do you think, in terms of movie buffs?
Josh: I think that...you know, it's very much not a mainstream, studio romantic comedy. I think that there are those audiences that love the mainstream romantic comedies -- hence the reason that they are made -- and then there's the audiences that enjoy something that's a little offbeat and off kilter.
Josh: I know that the writer, Shona, I know she was inspired and loves films along the lines of "Little Miss Sunshine." I know that came up as sort of a total...not "match," by any means, but something that had inspired her. She loved that kind of existence, that kind of world. I think that this audience...I think it's something that the audience that's looking for something that you don't quite, maybe, see every time you go to a movie. Someone who enjoys characters that are a little bit more offbeat than usual.
MRR: Right. Has the audience responded well, so far, to the film?
Josh: You know, I have actually not been to screenings of it because the filmmakers are in Florida and they do it in L.A. and I have been in New York and Louisiana. But I'm hearing that audiences have responded well to it and they like it, and they seem to... I'm not sure if they're targeting audiences for the launch, to come see it, but people seem to like it. At the end of the day it is, I think, an uplifting movie and I think that's always nice, especially in this political climate and world that we're living in.
It's always nice to have a bit of an escape and find something that's uplifting, someone who can change -- that you can change your life for the better. But yeah, I've been told that people have been responding to it very well.
MRR: Great, yeah. I really liked the film, and I'm hoping our audience can get a hold of it. Do you know when they're going to be able to get a hold of it, by any chance?
Josh: ...in select theaters on June 7th, that's right. It's available on demand the same day. Video on Demand the same day, I believe.
Josh: Yeah, they can get a hold of it in one of those ways.
MRR: All right, well what else can we expect from you, Josh, in the future now?
Josh: Well, hopefully a lot more. I'm going to do...I was just in New York working on a little guest star on that show, "Royal Pains," and I'm going in a week to go do a movie that Jonathan Silverman and Jen Finnegan are directing, called "A Bet's a Bet," and it has Mena Suvari and Geoff Stults and Eric Roberts in it. It's a pretty fun script, so we'll look forward to that in hopefully about a year or so. Besides that, I don't know. We'll keep working.
MRR: All right, well thank you so much for talking with me today. Enjoy the rest of your day in Brooklyn, and hopefully our audience will be able to see the film.
Josh: Thank you.