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Exclusive Interview with Actor Blake Cooper Griffin

Photo Credit: Benjo Arwas
Photo Credit: Benjo Arwas

Blake Cooper Griffin is making waves on both the small screen and the big screen. Having a passion for acting since he was a child, Griffin attended the North Carolina School of the Arts, School of Drama, where he trained to become a professional actor. He soon began landing roles alongside Hollywood A-listers, such as Helen Hunt and Cuba Gooding Jr.

Recently, Griffin has roles in the upcoming films Love Is All You Need? and Before You Say I Do, playing two very different characters, something that Blake is used to, transitioning from one character to the next. Portraying fraternity leader and football player Bill Bradley in Love Is All You Need?, Griffin explores a world where being gay is the norm, and being straight is frowned upon. In Before You Say I Do, Blake plays the role of Dr. Stephen Howard, starring alongside both Becca Tobin and Ryan Kelley.

I recently had the pleasure of chatting with Blake Cooper Griffin about acting and his roles in Love Is All You Need? and Before You Say I Do.

When did you know that you wanted to become an actor? Was it something that’s always played a major role in your life?

That’s a good question. I do think that I always knew that I wanted to be an actor. I, as a kid, would put on plays in my backyard. And, I was always kind of pretending things, playing make believe, and I even would do these things where I would take books that I was reading when I was six or seven years old and I would act them out, and, you know, put on a play with my friends. So I was always really into that, and as I got older, I got more serious about it and I wanted to be in plays. I would always say that my weekends were spent half playing basketball and half going to play practice.

When I went to high school, I really got involved with drama and I ended up going to a boarding school for the performing arts. And then I went to a conservatory; the North Carolina School of the Arts when it was time for college and I studied acting there. After that, I moved out to Los Angeles, got an agent and manager, and started auditioning.

I’ve noticed that you play a wide array of characters. What has been your favorite character to play so far?

Well, I have to say, that is the thing that I love about acting, playing a wide array of characters. The thing that’s most interesting to me about acting is that transformational element. I love that I’ve gotten to play a punkie, purple haired, pierced boyfriend of Lindsay Santino on Necessary Roughness. I’ve also played the world chess champion in Cuba Gooding Jr.’s movie Life of a King. And now I’m playing a very antagonistic role in Love Is All You Need?. I’ve really been lucky that I’ve been able to do that, and also, I love that I’ve been able to do drama and comedy. I got to do a really fun comedic role on Major Crimes recently that was really great. And I also was on the show Jessie on Disney, and I did a show called Mad Love on CBS. And then I’ve also done some really serious dramas, as well. So it’s really cool to be able to switch back and forth. For me, as an actor and as an artist, doing that kind of different stuff is very creatively fulfilling. That is a part of acting that I really love.

My favorite part to date would probably be the one I’ve just played; Bill Bradley in Love is All You Need?. I’m really excited for people to get to see it. I love that character because I think that there’s so much there to work with. The writers Kim Rocco Shields and David Tillman gave so much for us to play with in that script, and they wrote a really interesting character in Bill Bradley. And although I’m very different from Bill Bradley – he’s a much darker, darker character – it was really interesting to get inside of his head and figure out why he does the things that he does and tell that story truthfully. I’m really excited for people to get to see it.

Speaking of Bill Bradley, he’s sort of the antagonist of the movie. Do you have a favorite scene from Love Is All You Need?, or is there a particular scene that was difficult for you to film?

Favorite scene. Well, yes, but I can’t tell you all about it, because I don’t want to give anything away. [Laughs] What I will tell you is that the first day of shooting – because often we shoot these things out of sequence, they’re not always shot in chronological order – the first day of shooting, I got there and we shot the climax of my character on the first day. It was a very physical and very emotional scene, and Rocco was so great with me. She gave me a lot of freedom and she gave me a lot of great guidance. I think that it turned out so well. That sort of climatic, very highly charged, emotional scene is a scene that I think all actors love; that really gives you information about why the character is doing what they’re doing.

I also have another scene that I love in the movie. It’s a scene where we see Bill with the Reverend (Elisabeth Röhm). We get a lot of insight into why Bill does the things that he does, and I think that that is one of my favorite scenes as well because it communicates to the audience and lets the audience in on what’s going on with Bill internally. I think that that’s really important in this film, and I was so grateful that Rocco and David made it a priority to let us see Bill as a full character.

Love Is All You Need? is a really intense and almost conversational film. What was it like behind the scenes? Was it more fun and laid back, or was it still really tense and serious?

[Laughs] I gotta tell you, we laughed behind the scenes. We really did. You’re right, because you see the trailer, and you know that there are definitely a lot of intense moments. I will say, there are some very funny moments in the film, as well. It’s a very entertaining, thought-provoking, and intense movie; it kind of has it all. But, behind the scenes, I’ve met some of my favorite people in the world on this movie. Emily Osment and I are really good friends, and we met on Love Is All You Need?. She’s hilarious. We had a Pop-Tarts eating contest. She, Tyler Blackburn, and I had a Pop-Tart eating contest one night. It was like 4 am and we decided that we would eat as many Pop-Tarts as we could.

And then, of course, Briana Evigan, who is so great in this movie; Emily and Briana are just so fantastic in the film. Briana and I played a basketball game because I played basketball in high school and there’s some basketball in the movie, as well. So she and I had a pick-up basketball game at 3 am. And we had a lot of night shoots, and you go really late, so we had this pick-up basketball game at 3 am with Rocco. I think I won. Or at least, that’s what I’m going to say. [Laughs] And it was just a blast. We had so much fun.

My buddy Rafi Gavron is in this as well, and he and I still see each other all the time. It’s really become a tight-knit group of people. Rocco and I are great friends. I think the reason for that is we did have a blast behind the scenes, but also, when you work on a movie like Love Is All You Need?, that really has it’s heart in the right place, you can’t lose. Everybody is doing this movie on a mission, which is that we want to spread the message of tolerance and help eliminate bullying, and let people know that they’re not alone. When you’re doing it for those reasons, and the script is rich and you’re working with really talented people, a magical thing happens. I think that the product of the movie really shows that.

You’ve just booked a role on the film Before You Say I Do. What can you tell us about that?

Yeah, yeah, I’m really having a good time shooting that right now. This is my day off, so I’m using it to talk to you. [Laughs]. I got to sleep in a little bit today; I slept until 7. I’ve been getting up at 4 am every day for three weeks, because the place where we’re shooting it is 30 minutes outside of L.A., and you have to be there by 6 o’clock; with L.A. traffic you gotta get up pretty early. So it’s nice to sleep in a little bit today.

But that is a completely different movie. It is kind of a light, fun, romantic comedy. I’m working with Becca Tobin from Glee and Ryan Kelley from Teen Wolf, and we’re having a blast. We just laugh a lot, and it’s a really sweet movie. The director and the whole team are really great. I’ve been having a really good time. I play a guy who is a young therapist, and it’s kind of a romantic comedy sort of thing.

Sounds pretty interesting.

Yeah. And again, it sort of follows along the lines of I feel so blessed that I’m getting to do different things. Going from Love Is All You Need? to some of the other guest stars I’ve done on TV this year, whether it was Major Crimes, or also recently I got to work with Helen Hunt again on House of Lies – and I worked with her last year on a movie that she did called Ride. She is the most top-notch director, actress, person that I think I’ve ever had contact with – and then getting to jump over to do this movie that is light and fun, and work with these amazing people, it’s really the best part of the job.

And I understand that you are active with Boo2Bullying. What made you get involved with that organization?

Well you know, what made me get involved with that really is Love Is All You Need?, because what the movie taught me was that we all need to be involved. We all need to be involved with helping to put a stop to bullying. What’s great about Love Is All You Need? is that the concept of it is that it’s set in a world where gay is straight and straight is gay. The roles are flipped, and what that does is it allows for a metaphor for all types of bullying. So when you’re watching the movie we have a story that is going on itself, but you can really imagine that what we’re speaking about is “fill in the blank” for all types of bullying.

Playing this part really made me passionate about finding a way to get involved and help other people, because I certainly was on the side of ending bullying before, but this movie made me see that not only do we need to have our hearts and minds in the right place, we need to do something to try to stop this. Whether it’s in schools or cyber bullying, or whatever it is. Or hazing, which for my character in Love Is All You Need? there’s that component as well. So, that’s why I got involved with Boo2Bullying, and I’ve been volunteering with them and will continue to do so. I’m happy that they’ll have me.

I think that it’s really important to bring those issues the forefront and start conversations with them, which is what Love Is All You Need? is going to do. So, that’s really cool.

Thank you. I really hope so. I really do believe that that’s where we should start, is a conversation, and I think that this movie really has a chance to change minds and hearts. So I’m looking forward to more and more people getting to see it, and there are going to be a lot more opportunities in the future for them, too; that’s exciting.

Alright, and I have to ask, since our website is called Talk Nerdy With Us, is there something that you nerd-out about?

Yes. [Laughs] Politics. I am a political nut, and my friends make fun of me. I watch CNN on a loop; I watch it over, and over, and over, and with the presidential election right now, it’s on in my house. I just turned it off so that we could talk on the phone. So I’m definitely very nerdy when it comes to politics. And there are probably some other things, too. I love the show House Hunters, so I can be a little nerdy about that, too. I watch that a lot, too.

And finally, we like to end our interviews with a little bit of a lightening round. So I’m just going to ask a few questions, and you say the first thing that pops into your mind.

Cool, alright! Let’s hear it.

Favorite movie?

Hmmm, that’s so hard. I’m going to have to go with The Talented Mr. Ripley.

That’s a good one! Favorite song?

“Rhiannon,” by Fleetwood Mac.

Favorite superhero?

Superman!

And last, favorite thing to do when you’re not filming?

Sleep in.

That’s a good one!

Sleep in; drink coffee in bed, with my dog.

 

Love Is All You Need? premieres March 5th at the Cinequest Film Festival, and don’t forget to catch Blake when Before You Say I Do is released!

Written by Allison Schonter

Binger of TV. Writer of words. Forever daydreaming about fictional characters. My current obsessions include The 100, The Walking Dead, Fear The Walking Dead, and Wynonna Earp. So go ahead and talk to me about those.

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