As an actor, Chris Cooper has appeared in almost sixty films and television shows since 1987 (a remarkable run for any performer), receiving a nomination and winning an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor eight years ago for 'Adaptation.' 'Adaptation' gave Cooper the opportunity to break away from his typically taciturn, thoughtful, introspective roles. As John Laroche, the "orchid thief," the subject of Susan Orlean's book fictionalized in 'Adaptation,' Cooper turned his performance style on its head. With Laroche oozing a hyper, obsessive, borderline delusional mania for orchids, Cooper was practically unrecognizable. Moviegoers, critics, and the Academy agreed.

In 1999, Cooper appeared in two noteworthy films. One, 'American Beauty,' received eight Academy Award nominations, winning four, including Best Picture, Best Actor (Kevin Spacey), Best Original Screenplay, and Best Cinematography. Cooper played a repressed, repressive ex-marine colonel, a standout role that the Academy ignored. It's an earlier performance in a film released the same year, however, that shows Cooper at his best, due in part to a strong, nuanced script, a compelling story defined by the particulars of a time and place, and a character that proves that reacting is a key component in any actor's repertoire. That film, 'October Sky,' primarily a star vehicle for a then up-and-coming young actor, Jake Gyllenhaal, arrived in movie theaters in February, 1999, a time usually reserved for studio cast-offs and low-rent genre entries. The lack of studio faith, however, was unwarranted.
categories Features, Cinematical