Alistair Cooke has become used to dealing with the pressures of a busy acting career. Originally from Perth, Australia, this home-grown successful thesp sits down with us to reflect on his critical role in the award-winning online series, “Syd2030”.
Alistair prefaces the conversation with a declaration on why he does what he does.
“At the end of the day, I believe in story-telling and that’s my main purpose,” he clarifies with the wisdom of someone three times his age.
When asked to elaborate, Alistair points to what he hopes to do with his acting in general.
“I’m an actor focused of sharing the experiences of characters and giving audiences the opportunity to learn and experience things they wouldn’t in their day to day life.”
We begin our discussion with a reflection the hit drama, “Syd2030.” When asked about his contribution to the show, Alistair speaks with an authoritative confidence.
“My character “Avery” in “Syd2030” was a necessity to the show. He brought the comedic relief in what was a drama heavy production.”
Indeed, watching the show it’s very clear Alistair brings an inviting humour into every scene in which he appears, but balances that out with a extremely strong grip on the dramatic tension. Proof of the exceptional acting talent he has come to be known as.
“Syd2030” was acclaimed as Australia’s answer to “Gossip Girl’ meets “Suits” – a fictional inside look into the lives of ambitious law students. This meant that some episodes were laced with heavy topics, include drug use and depression. The role of Avery, as played by Alistair, therefore became a fan favourite for the way he offered comedic punctuations to every scene in which he appeared. This balance in tonality clearly struck a chord with industry peers, as it helped the propel the show to critical acclaim and win Best Drama Webseries at the highly regarded Webby Awards.
“Syd2030 was an enjoyable production to be a part of and I loved every minute of it,” Alistair says with a smile.
Adding to the specialness of the project was the fact the show’s season, and the many episodes in which Alistair’s work appeared, premiered at an exclusive venue in Bondi in Westfield Bondi, one of Australia’s biggest event centres.
“It was really fun, I took Giselle Van Der Weil, from Channel Seven’s “Manhunt,” as my date…once seeing my character’s comedic relief in the show on the big screen, it all made sense. My role helped keep things light and relatable for an audience when the scene was in a dark or emotionally turbulent place.”
When viewing the series, it’s clear that Alistair’s acting allowed an audience a conduit through which they could connect with the character’s storylines, because of the unique humanity he brought to the character of Avery. Producers of SYD2030 attribute the jump in viewers – estimated to be 3 million across Australia alone – to Alistair’s involvement.
Aside from the inextricable function Alistair played in the second season’s plotline about upper-class law students at Australia’s best law school, Alistair’s casting in the show is equally impressive.
“I was actually contacted by producers who had seen my work in the past and asked if I would be interested in the role,” when asked whether he auditioned for the job.
It’s clear that, such is the excellent reputation Alistair has built for himself, he is frequently in demand.
For example, Alistair shot his key role in internationally-syndicated “Behind Mansion Walls”, which airs on Investigation Discovery in the US, in between various stage shows in Sydney.
Alistair’s eyes light up when recalling that shooting experience.
“Behind Mansion Walls” was actually my first experience on set with a fire arm. I played Marc Schrueder, a young man who killed his grandfather with a gun.”
The menacing nature of the character meant that Alistair was the subject of the show’s storyline, and without his committed performance of playing a real-life person, the story simply would not have worked.
“It was a very interesting experience,” Alistair continues, “learning how to use the weapon and how to use it safely was an eye opening experience that helped me sink into the worldview of the character more accurately. “
The significance of Alistair’s performance in “Behind Mansion Walls” aside, it’s apparent that Alistair is particularly adept at lighting up the screen with his distinct portrayal of joyous characters.
It’s this casting niche that has meant he has also experienced a lengthy record of success in Australian TV commercials, meaning audiences have become used to associating Alistair with household brands.
“Commercials are definitely a fun part of the job,” Alistair smiles, who also appeared as a lead in the TV series “Wicca” with “Innuendo” actress Naomi Lisner that same year he was the face of a campaign for Crown Resorts, Australia’s largest entertainment, resort and and gaming conglomerate.
“Working with famous AFL footballer “Nic Naitanui” was a commercial highlight. It was advertising “Crown Resorts”, we were in a sports bar watching the footy together.”
Indeed, Alistair was a central part of the campaign, as the story centred around him watching the big game with his friends, when they bump into AFL football star Natanui who then joins Alistair’s character for a drink to watch the game. The premise of the commercial was that is “you’ll never know who you will meet at Crown Resorts.”
When we followed up with Alistair about the TV campaign, Alistair’s representatives were quick to boast: “this commercial had a very large budget, so over 80 people auditioned for this role!”
Aside from this budget, Crown Resorts is one of Australia’s leading companies, generating 4.71 billion dollars in revenue in 2015 alone – the same year Alistair’s campaign originally aired. Alistair’s connection to the glowing success of the company is ultimately undeniable, and has been very lucrative for the dedicated thespian who originally started his career determined ironically to live as a ‘starving artist’ to benefit his craft.
Commercials have also resulted in Alistair building on the prominence of his working relationships, as his leading role as the face of KFC gave him the opportunity to work with American director Ken Lambert.
Sounding like the health-conscious actor he is, Alistair added “However…I was certainly looking forward to salad by the end of the shoot.”
And on that note, Alistair tells he needs to get back to set. He adds with a smile, “they’ve got really healthy catering on this one though!”