Search

Actor Callie Cooke: ‘I had to distance myself or I’d get emotionally drained’

PUBLISHED: 17:45 16 March 2017

Callie Cooke as Bernice in Filthy Business. Picture: Dominic Clemence

Callie Cooke as Bernice in Filthy Business. Picture: Dominic Clemence

Dominic Clemence

As she prepares to play a cocksure teen, BRIDGET GALTON talks to an actor whose career was launched in a tough role at Hampstead Theatre

Callie Cooke seems to be cornering the market in playing mouthy teens.

Her first job out of drama school was a teen victim of the Rochdale sex abuse scandal at Hampstead Theatre.

Now she returns to the venue in Hackney-set Filthy Business playing the third generation of a warring Jewish family struggling to keep the family rubber business afloat.

Set between 1968 and the 80s, it is partly based on playwright Ryan Craig’s own family business in Islington’s Pentonville Road.

The 23-year-old plays Bernice, the “brilliantly sassy” granddaughter of Polish matriarch Yetta.

“She’s not interested in the business, she just turns up at the shop, smokes a few fags, and prances around in a beehive and a very skimpy mini skirt like she owns the place,” says Cooke. “It’s great to play someone so sure of who she is. I’m a bit nervous about the short skirt but I’m going to have to own it.”

Sara Kestelman’s Yetta, was a refugee whose family perished in the Holocaust, something she never tires of mentioning to her wayward brood as she instils the importance of kin.

“She talks about where she’s come from and what she’s had to do to be here all the time,” says Cooke. “She’s proud of where she’s from but she’s holding on by her fingernails trying to prove that family and loyalty are everything. She goes too far and there’s a downfall.”

Cooke emphasises there are comic moments as the men of the family slug it out for control.

“There’s a constant power struggle and fights. Yetta is the root of this tree trying to keep this family together as it moves through to the 80s - it’s really funny - but you won’t find a stronger family. When we scream, we scream but when we love, we love.”

It was Cooke’s acclaimed performance as mouthy, brittle Tia in Firebird that kick-started her career when it transferred to the Trafalgar Studios last year.

But she says playing a vulnerable girl groomed by an older man was difficult at times.

“I spent my graduation day in the rehearsal room and I couldn’t have asked to be in anything better. The feeling I got every night from doing it made me feel so lucky. But it took me to a dark place. I had to distance myself or I’d get emotionally drained. There were times in rehearsal if it went a bit too hard I’d go home and have a little cry.”

Prior to Filthy Business, Cooke spent seven months in Prague filming new Sky/Amazon series Britannia, set just after the Roman invasion of Britain in 43AD.

Penned by Spectre and Jerusalem writer Jez Butterworth, the summer release pits David Morrissey’s Roman general Aulus Plautius against Kelly Reilly’s Celtic princess and her hordes.

“My character’s part of a normal Celtic family but I am a warrior so it was brilliant to learn to horse ride and do archery,” says Cooke, who landed the part when a casting director came to see her in Firebird.

“It’s gritty, there’s a real lack of make up and lots of women who can fight which I am all for. It was an amazing job working on TV which I never thought I would get a chance to do. And it was all down to Hampstead and (director) Ed Hall. It’s so lovely to be back.”

Filthy Business runs until April 21.

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Hackney Gazette visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Hackney Gazette staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Hackney Gazette account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Latest Hackney Stories

Yesterday, 19:31

The winner of the replay between Dagenham & Redbridge and Leyton Orient will visit League One side Gillingham in the first round of the FA Cup after the draw was made on Monday evening.

Yesterday, 18:00

The defender reflects on goalless draw at Victoria Road and what the FA Cup means to him and the squad

Yesterday, 16:33

Witnesses to a stabbing, a string of burglaries and a shop raid in Hackney say they no longer feel safe – and are worried about further cuts to the police budget.

Yesterday, 16:00

Spurs boss wants team to enjoy facing one of the best teams in the world with all eyes set to be on Harry Kane

Yesterday, 15:11

The price of housing in Hackney, measured by square metre, more than doubled between 2004 and 2016 according to new government figures.

Yesterday, 15:00

The O’s couldn’t break down their east London rivals, but importantly managed to not concede for the first time since August 28

BBL Cup first round: London Lions 103 Leeds Force 54

Yesterday, 13:00

Daggers and O’s to meet in replay at Brisbane Road on Tuesday night



Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Most read entertainment

Show Job Lists