The book is finally closing on Hank Moody, and Showtime's Californication, the half-hour dramedy chronicling Moody's perennial quest for inner peace, punctuated with casual, kinky, and sometimes freaky sex. And since creator Tom Kapinos knew it was the end, he's set Hank up with one hell of a poignant closing storyline: the discovery of a 20-something son that he never knew he had.
Enter Oliver Cooper as Hank's new son Levon, a socially awkward weirdo who couldn't be less like his suave, dime-pulling dad. For Cooper, it's the role of a lifetime, his biggest look since starring in the 2012 teen comedy Project X. Complex got the chance to speak with him about his experience on set, learning from acting vet David Duchovny, and what's in store for the rest of Hank's final year.
Interview by Frazier Tharpe (@The_SummerMan)
Were you a fan of the series before coming on?
Yea, I really was a fan. I think it’s a great show and I’m really a fan of all of the cable shows on Showtime. I was just excited to be a part of that.
What’s it like working with David Duchovny, whom you’ve spent the most screen time with, than the rest of the cast?
I definitely spend a lot of time with him. I really loved our chemistry on the show. He’s such a cool guy—and in the show he’s such a cool guy—and I’m really not, not at all. [Laughs.] I thought our chemistry played really well off of each other. I don’t know if you’ve seen the whole season or not.
The only thing I can tease is that the first couple of episodes are just kind of setting up this character. People think, 'Oh this kid’s so weird,' but it’s gonna get a lot more fun and it’s going to get crazy.
No, I've seen the first two so far.
As it goes on, we start to bond a little bit, and we start to have a lot of fun, and that was a lot of fun to make. In the scenes and out of the scenes, he’s a really nice guy.
This is your biggest role to date. How has working alongside a veteran like Duchovny affected your craft?
It’s not something like—they don't give you tips. These seasoned actors don’t say “Hey you should do it like this!” You learn by watching them and when you’re in scenes with them. I don’t think there’s something that you specifically learn. Just the fact that you’re doing it with them, it gives you more experience. Definitely the experience of working not just with David, but with Heather [Graham], Michael Imperioli, Evan Handler, Natascha [McElhone], and Pamela [Adlon] taught me a lot.
About Heather Graham, was she cast before you or after? Your character is such a big addition to the Californication universe, so I'm wondering about the process of casting Hank’s second baby mama and if you played a part in that.
[Laughs.] No, I had absolutely nothing to do with the casting of other people on the show. I just went through the regular audition, and I guess they were looking for someone—there were a lot of people that looked like me in the audition room.
Speaking of that process, in the first episode, there’s a lot of jokes made in reference to Levon’s personality. How much of that was on the page and how much was your own decision?
That was written. First of all, the show is incredibly written. Tom Kapinos writes the show and created the show and he’s a really good writer, so you don’t want to improvise and make up stuff with the material he’s given. Originally, his idea was to give David have a son that was a bit of an odd character, so I was just playing what was written and trying to make it as believable as I could.
And this is still set to be the final season?
Yea, this is it. Final season for sure.
So would you say this father-son arc is the major thrust towards the show’s endgame?
It’s definitely one of the major storylines of the season.
What can you tease about that going forward?
The only thing I can tease is that the first couple of episodes are just kind of setting up this character. People think, "Oh this kid’s so weird," but it’s gonna get a lot more fun and it’s going to get crazy. We’re really exploring that father-son relationship in the fucked up way that Californication does things.
Maybe you can’t say this, but is Becca set to come back? Are you two ever going to interact or are you the main Moody child this season?
She definitely comes back. I don’t know if they want me saying anything more, but she comes back for sure, I’ll give you that.
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