Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Felisha Cooper's Transition to Prime Time in Pop TV's Swedish Dicks

Felisha Cooper
(photo courtesy Pop TV)
Felisha Cooper, who is best known to many as Sasha Thompson on “The Bold and the Beautiful,” has been moonlighting as a comedian, so to speak. Felisha co-stars in Pop TV’s newest comedy called “Swedish Dicks,” which premieres August 9 and centers on Ingmar (Peter Stormare), a washed-up ex-stuntman-turned-private investigator who pairs up with a Swedish DJ named Axel (played by Johan Glans). Together they set out to solve some of LA’s weirdest crimes. Keanu Reeves plays Tex, a fellow stuntman whose mysterious death has haunted Ingmar for decades. Felisha plays Sarah, Ingmar’s daughter, and she gave me the scoop on this quirky new comedy.

Celebrity Extra: Aside from playing Sasha on “The Bold and the Beautiful,” you’ve had a lot of guest spots on some really great shows, such as “The Last Ship,” “Criminal Minds” and “Rosewood,” to name a few. How did all of that prepare you for this latest role as Sarah on “Swedish Dicks”?

Felisha Cooper: Just the diversity going from a college student who had her parents killed to being a soldier in the military to being a whore on a soap opera (laughs). It made it a fun trip, and really opened the window of where I can go as an actress. Like how diverse I can play, and it just gave me a lot of confidence that I can really do any role myself, as long as I can understand it, and it shows me walks of life that I have never been through. But I have to make sure the character has been brought to life and that somebody out there on the planet can relate to it. That’s most important for me. It gives me a sense of “I can do this.” There’s definitely a challenge to go to one role from the other, that’s for sure.

CE: What are some moments that stand out to you working on those other shows?

FC: The one that stands out most in my mind is being on “The Last Ship,” and I was working opposite Charles Parnell. He’s such an incredible and intense actor; he’s such an incredible master chief that you feel like you’re actually in the military. You’re on this ship, and your captain is talking to you so you can save the rest of the world. He just gives you that intensity and that focus that you have to pay attention to it, and you have to react to it. It was so fulfilling. He was just an incredible actor to work with.

CE: Your father was a drill sergeant in the U.S. Army, so you had some practice being around that.

FC: I was a little bit prepared going into that show. My dad taught me a lot of respect, a lot of manners, and so I felt like I was paying homage to him in a certain way by being on this show. It was so incredible and so fun, it was almost like it was a world I already knew without having to be in the military. It was a fun dynamic.

CE: Tell me about the dynamic of being on “The Bold and the Beautiful.”

FC: It was very fun, and it was definitely a sort of acting boot camp. For the most part, it’s such a well-oiled machine that it’s kind of like a 9-to-5 job. You’re there, you do your job, there’s not a lot of room to screw up, and then we move to the next scene because we have so much footage to cover in such a short amount of time. You know your shit or you get out. It’s very exciting for me because I like thinking on my feet, I like the challenge, I like the pace of it. It’s fun, but as I said, it also can be very challenging.

CE: What are some memories about “The Bold and the Beautiful” that stick out to you?

FC: I worked opposite Rain Edwards. I played her sister and she is this beautiful young actress. She’s full of passion and heart, and she has this incredible history that she draws from. Which was awesome to be with someone around my age who gives just as much intensity. But working with Anna Marie Horsford and Obba Babatundé, that was just like transcending. They’re iconic in film and television, and I learned so much from them, not only professionally but personally.

When you connect with them on a personal level and then someone yells action for you to play the script, it just makes it so much more connected. They taught me that; they created that within me. We would rehearse our scenes together all the time, and Obba gave so much depth and clarity, it was almost like he was my teacher, not just my scene partner. He was absolutely amazing to work with because he’s done so many incredible films and plays. He’s really knowledgeable about what he’s doing, and he has a way to find the subtext in a script. It was mind-blowing for me.

CE: So the way your career has progressed, from guest spots to a lead role in daytime television to another lead role in a groundbreaking prime-time comedy — did you plan this all out, or are you taking it as it comes?

FC: Oh, I’m a crazy control freak. I remember being like 17, and I had this little notebook from homeroom or something, and I wrote down stuff like, by the time I’m 21, I’ll win an MTV movie award, by the time I’m 30, I’m going to win an Oscar. I wrote all that stuff down just because I was trying to speak it into my life. But honestly, the reason why I became an actress is because when I was 6 years old, I wanted to be Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen — that was my biggest goal in life from the very beginning. It sounds so silly, but what else do you expect from a 6-year-old?

CE: Nothing against Mary-Kate and Ashley, but are you shooting higher now?

FC: Yes, now I want to be Meryl Streep. Oh, and Viola Davis. My tastes have grown a little bit. I can’t think of many actors I’d be starstruck by, but them, they are definitely at the top of my list.

CE: So now you’re doing a bit of a transition …

FC: Yes, we’re transitioning from daytime television to primetime television. We’re getting up there, climbing the ladder.

Felisha Cooper as Sarah in Swedish Dicks
(photo courtesy Pop TV)
CE: Tell me about “Swedish Dicks.” With a name like that, it definitely needs some explaining.

FC: Girl, my first reaction was: “Wait, is this porn? I have a mother!” But seriously, I remember sitting on my bed, I think I was watching “Glee,” which is my favorite show, and I got an email from my manager, and it read: “Appointment for Felisha Cooper — Swedish Dicks.” I thought, “You’re kidding!” So I went through and read the role of Sarah and thought, “Oh, this girl sounds awesome.” It’s as if someone imagined me before they knew me. I am perfectly Sarah. That’s exactly how I think, exactly how I talk. I got sass, I got this quick wit, I got all the fast talking.

So I went to the audition, and like a week or so later, I got a callback, and then on the day of “The Bold and the Beautiful” Christmas party, we’re all taking selfies in the photo booth they had set up, and I get a call from my manager to tell me that I had booked “Swedish Dicks.” I started screaming right then and there because I was so excited. I loved the role, and I couldn’t believe they had picked me.

CE: Tell me about Sarah.

FC: Well Sarah is Ingmar’s daughter; they were estranged. He left when she was little, and she was raised by her mom. Now Ingmar has come back into her life and wants to have a father-daughter relationship, but she’s kind of like: “You haven’t been here for me. I don’t really want anything to do with you.” But the undertone is that she does want a relationship with her father, and she does love him. She’s angry that he was gone for so long, but she is happy that he’s back. She feels like she has somewhat of a family again. The more the relationship builds, I think her heart will soften and she will realize he’s actually a genuine guy. He’s made some mistakes, but he has no ill intentions, and that’s kind of the dichotomy of our relationship. Sarah is a hotshot lawyer, takes nothing from nobody, she’s beautiful, she dresses well, she makes good money, and she’s just doing her damn thing.

CE: Sarah and her father, Ingmar, have a rocky start getting to know each other. Tell me more about that. Does he get her involved in the cases he goes on?

FC: Sarah definitely has a soft spot for her dad, so he’s gotten her to go on chases and stuff with him. She gets him out of the scrapes he gets into it, and she does it pro bono because he’s her father. She hates it, but the reason she does it is because she loves him. Even if she won’t admit it, she loves him. 

CE: In real life, Peter Stormare and Keanu Reeves are good friends, and Keanu plays a pivotal role in this series. What is Keanu like to work with?

FC: Oh my God, Keanu is such a delight. He is reserved and he’s calm, and he’s got this very strong demeanor. But just let him open his mouth, and he is the nicest man in the world. He’s so kind, he’s so engaged. His eye contact is so perfect; you can tell he cares about people when they speak to him. He’s not all like, “Oh, I’m Keanu Reeves”; to him, he’s just Keanu, and that was one of the most endearing qualities about him. I think he’s wonderful.

CE: What else can you tell me about the show?

FC: It’s relationship-based. They all go on cases together, but everyone is tied together. Ingmar and Axel are partners; Ingmar is very headstrong, which is where I think Sarah gets it from. Axel is trying to be headstrong — he’s learning, kind of like an understudy to Ingmar. He’s very passionate, very kind and very sweet. Sticks his foot in his mouth and is a bit naive, but he means well.

Sarah is kind of the outsider looking in, thinking that these people are all crazy, but there’s something tugging at her heartstrings that makes her want to participate. She recognizes that her dad is actually trying. It took him too long, but he is actually making an effort, and she realizes that.

CE: What’s the vibe of the show?

FC: It’s heightened comedy, but we all take it very seriously. That’s what is so incredible about it. It has that film-noir “Breaking Bad” vibe to it. If you watch it, especially the intro — it’s kind of like “Breaking Bad” as a comedy, if you will. I find it to be so incredibly fresh and new and an awesome show to watch.

CE: This really does sound like a smart and fun show.

FC: It is. It really is a great show; it’s a new, unconventional comedy. I think it will do well. I know it’s been very well-received in Sweden, and hopefully America will feel the same way.

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