Actor Oliver Jackson-Cohen Forges His Own Path
The still-youthful British actor has an impressive resumé, with work on both sides of the Atlantic and the frequent flyer miles to prove it. He is known for starring as Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, in a series of Funny or Die videos alongside actress Allison Williams as newlywed Kate Middleton, as well as leading roles in the US in television series Dracula and Emerald City. While waiting to get on yet another plane to Australia to film his latest project, Jackson-Cohen shared his love for his craft and the immersive process he must go through every time a new part comes his way.
“I need to act,” says Jackson-Cohen. “It is a visceral emotion that is sometimes hard to understand, but I have this overwhelming need to share my craft with an audience, and this ‘need’ is what is driving me. I understand that it is a bit weird to talk about, but I am ultimately an introvert thrust into this very public persona that I have to manage.” With a career that takes him to both sides of the pond, I became curious to see if he had a preference between Europe and the US, and he was quick to note that, for the last ten years, he had been able to develop a rather significant body of work while staying primarily in the UK. “I think that the difference with acting here at home [the actor is London-based] and going to the US is the abundance of work in all media in the States. The creative industry, especially in Los Angeles, is a spectacularly clever and diverse. One can find projects in a multitude of environments, all within ten square miles of real estate.” He laughed mentioning that while he liked being in the US [he comes here every month or so] he didn’t quite fit in Los Angeles, something about being an Englishman through and through.
During the shoot, we quickly notice that, while he looked fantastic in the pictures (as you can attest!), this wasn’t his favorite thing to do. He was being diligent and decidedly polite and more than accommodating, but the glare of the light and camera are not his favorite things. “My mum was a designer and her work was in the limelight, but I learned from an early age that it wasn’t what mattered.” He goes on: “All the glamour in the world doesn’t really matter if there isn’t substantive work behind it. It’s a rather empty feeling, like you are missing nourishment.” Jackson-Cohen is a creator, and as his career continues to soar, he is able to be more selective and base his choices on the material. “When you are a young actor, let’s be honest, you just need to work, so, you will take whatever comes your way, and it is rather easy to be typecast in the sort of roles that you may or may not be fulfilled with.”
He also became reflective on the state of social media, with what it adds to—or detract from—his job as an actor. “The immediacy of what social media brings can be problematic. I shy away from the constant posting that we see today.” He continues: “The idea of fame, for its sake, is not something I am very fond of.” The handsome actor tends to be a bit guarded, and his work allows us to witness who he is through typically great performances that capture the hearts and minds of the audience.
His work process is rather intense, and the parts—a mix of sad and forlorn characters (so much so that his friends have been known to ask him to “stop playing sad characters!”)—maybe reveal a small aspect of his personality. “There are attributes of those characters that are definitely me.” After reflecting on this for a second, he pauses and says: “Well, maybe there is a rom-com in my future!”When I ask him what a NOBLEMAN is, he quickly answers: “A nobleman is someone with good morals, who is willing to give of himself.” Whether it is here or abroad, Oliver Jackson-Cohen will be a force to reckon with for years to come.
Photography by @johnrussophoto
Words by @ylesieur
Styling by @fairfaxcopenhagen
Wardrobe Consultant @chrisnervo
Grooming by @michaeldueñas