We had the chance to sit down with Matt Cohen at the Nashville Con earlier this month, and once again had a thoroughly enjoyable chat. Matt (along with Misha Collins and Chad Lindberg) had just returned from the Rising Con in Brazil, where he had a great time with fans — but endured a few culinary challenges.
Matt: In Brazil (they speak) Portuguese. And it’s not Portugal Portuguese; it’s Brazilian Portuguese, which is different. In restaurants, some places have English menus, but very few. Brazilians are very open and loving of Americans, but you know, we’re in their country – it’s not their job to learn English! So you’re looking at the waiter going “Ummm . . .” and then finally you’re like “I’ll have this one” (points) and you just kind of hope you get something. One night I got – literally – fried chicken bones for dinner. It was chunks of the weirdest – I mean, I hope it was chicken. It was their version of chicken wings, but there was no chicken – it was literally like fried skin on bone. And of course I ate the fries that came with it and I was just chewing on the chicken bones. With my luck it was some delicacy and I didn’t know it.
Lynn (trying not to make a face): Let’s just tell ourselves that, shall we?
Kathy (trying to be helpful): When I was in Greece they just let us go into the kitchen and point at what looked good.
Matt: We started doing that after a while. We found this bakery not too far from our hotel, and we just started going in there. Their baked goods blow our baked goods out of the water.
Lynn: So how was the con itself? Was it different? Were the fans different?
Matt: It’s funny – the Brazilian fans – I don’t think one fan showed up without a gift for all three of us, me, Misha and Chad. It was really nice. The fans were amazing. The culture, it’s very kissy, so we were just kissing everybody. It was a great experience.
Lynn and Kathy (silently): Kissing everybody? Clearly a great experience for the fans as well…..
Matt: The crowd was small, under 500, so the three of us were really able to give them a lot. We were staying in the hotel with fans, we were eating breakfast with fans. It was a great experience – I would definitely go back.
Apparently Brazil has excellent taste in television too.
Matt: The following is huge! Like Misha got recognized on the street there more than he is here.
Lynn: It sounds like everyone was really welcoming.
Matt: So welcoming. During our autograph session they all had a gift, they all had a story. Chad never even sat down – he was on the other side of the table with every fan. That’s how we were the whole time. They gave us funny hats, we were acting foolish the whole time. We just gave into it. . . . During the convention Chad would just run out into the crowd, and you’d hear people screaming. Me and Chad would wake up and eat breakfast in the hotel and I had just met Chad. We had never worked together. You’ve gotta remember, I’ve only done two episodes.
One of the great things about conventions is that it’s not only the fans getting to know each other and making new friendships – it’s the actors too. We sometimes forget that most of them never actually worked on the same episodes of Supernatural, so conventions are the only times they see each other. In fact, we had just introduced Matt to a few of the other people who happened to be in the green room, forgetting to explain who they were.
Matt: The girl that I just met, was she an actress?
Kathy and Lynn: Danneel? That’s Jensen’s wife.
Matt: There you go! Everyone thinks we all know each other. I’ve only hung out with the boys a couple of times — and obviously me and Misha are trying to do some charity work together.
Lynn: Random Acts — tell us about that.
(Note: filming obligations prevented Matt from going to Haiti, but he remains passionate about the work. Misha and the other contributors have just returned from what sounds like an amazing effort).
Matt: I’m going to spend a week in Haiti building an orphanage. We’re building a 3,000-4,000 square foot orphanage on a 10,000 square foot lot.
Lynn: And you’re going to actually build it right? There’s nothing there?
Matt: Yeah, there’s nothing there. They broke ground and there’s a foundation, but that’s it. So I’m going to go there for a week. More than anything I’m doing it selfishly. I want to be changed, I want to be affected. I’m married now, and the things that are important to me have been important to me for the last couple of years, but now it’s like I don’t want to waste any more time. If there’s something that I can help with I want to be there. I’m so excited to go. I’m scared, but I’m excited to go. . . . Through Random Acts we worked with this website called Crowd Rise. People can create their own page and raise money and all the people who raised $5000 or more are coming with us. There’s going to be about thirty people. And a bunch of people who aren’t going but still raised $1000 or $2000. I think when fans see what we’re doing it’s just going to make it that much more worthwhile.
The reason Matt didn’t get to go is an exciting one – he’s filming a new movie, which sounds amazing – and challenging.
Matt: It’s called Fluid – it’s about three friends, one’s a young father with a newborn who had a get rich quick scheme that failed so the bank is taking his house, one is a trust-fund kid who’s been rich all his life who has a drug issue so his parents cut him off, and then there’s my character, who’s this womanizing, so-cool-with-everything, just wants to slide through life, he doesn’t want to work, he wants the easiest way. These three friends, two nights before Halloween, hear from someone they know in the mob that there will be a giant Halloween party cash transfer, so we have this moment of – you can solve your problems – and me, I’m like a cowboy – yeah, let’s do it! It’s nothing like me and it’s amazing to put a pistol in your hand and become a character. To put a pistol in somebody’s mouth is life changing. Matt Cohen can’t do that. So it’s surreal. There’s this scene where our buddy’s like, something is going to go wrong and the kid’s like “Don’t worry, I know this guy who’s got guns.” And the other guy is like – “You know somebody with guns?” These are three normal guys – picture me, Jared and Jensen sitting around a table — and I’m like “Listen, I know this guy with guns, there’s 12 million dollars, we won’t have to do anything.”
Lynn: Is it hard for you to act violent scenes, psychologically?
Matt: I’m not a completely method actor, but like 80-90%. So when we’re building up to the scene that we’re going to shoot Monday where I break in the office where all the stuff goes down, I take it home with me and I bring it to set with me. It affects my relationships. I can’t just (do it). I have to listen to the music my character would listen to, I have to brush my teeth a little bit differently, I have to do things that aren’t Matt Cohen to feel like my character Dave. A lot of actors don’t work like that. It’s more draining to do a horror movie – or so I think. With the horror movies I would get so sick. For Boogeyman II we shot this scene where I’m going back and forth between personalities. I didn’t eat for three days before, I drank nothing but coffee and smoked five packs of cigarettes. I was disgusting, I was gross, I was dirty, I was –
Matt: Jittery! And the thing was, we wrapped and I was happy with the scene and now I watch it and there’s obviously things I would do differently, it was my first movie, but you have to give everything. Acting doesn’t come easily to me at all. I work really hard to be average enough to work and keep working. I’m far from where I want to be.
No wonder Matt fits in so well with the Supernatural cast – so many of them have the same work ethic when it comes to acting, and talk about their craft in the same thoughtful way.
We also discovered that Matt and Kathy have something in common – fear of flying.
Matt: It will never stop me, but I just hate being on a plane. I don’t know if it’s a control thing. Misha’s talked to me about a hypnotist. I have a ritual of things I do before every flight – certain jewelry, certain things that I wear, I’m right handed and I always switch my baggage to my left hand and touch the plane when I get on. I close my eyes and say “Take care of me.” And I will only sit in a seat where I can see the wing because when turbulence happens it feels more than what it is, so I have to look out at the wings to see it barely going like this [gestures to indicate there’s not much really happening]. You’ll see me on bad flights like this [mimes taking deep breaths with his eyes closed] because my heart racing and I get tunnel vision and I get dizzy. People are like “How was the flight” and I say “I’m alive, I’m talking to you. Perfect flight!”
Kathy: I look for babies on flights. If there’s a baby on the flight I’m ok.
Matt: You know what – I’m the same way. . . . I like to believe if there’s babies he’s going to let them live a little bit. If there’s a baby crying I’m like “Bring him, bring him! Sit him right next to me, I’ll hold him. If he throws up on me, I don’t care!”
Lynn and Kathy: (picturing Matt being the in-flight entertainment for the babies on board) Awwww.
A newlywed, Matt also inspired some ‘awwws’ when he talked about being married.
Matt: It’s such a great thing. I’ve been married mentally for three years, we’ve been engaged for three years, but we just haven’t had time or the money to have the wedding that we wanted to have and finally we were just like “Done! We’re doing it.” It literally is the happiest day of your life. I was never nervous. Never for a second. When I stood up there in front of a hundred people and I said what I said to her, there was nobody but her. I got really lucky. It was a perfect day. Pictures should be popping up soon. I haven’t even gotten them from the photographer because I just haven’t been home to get them. I also had a documentary film maker in New York, Samantha Farinella, a good friend of mine, shoot the whole wedding documentary style. I’m going to do the editing myself.
Kathy: You tweeted about the wedding and posted pictures for fans, right?
Matt: Whenever I have 20 minutes I just sit down and start answering questions. Even if it’s just to say “Hi!” It’s the least I can do. Obviously I only have 10,000 followers, so it’s different for someone like me as opposed to someone like Jared who just signed on and he’s got like 50,000. The fans I have now I think will be the fans I have for the rest of my career, so I make a point to answer. I give them Matt Cohen 100%. I don‘t sugar coat. Like when I’m onstage I’m kinda geeky, I can’t dance, I can’t sing, I just want to have fun.
Lynn (protesting): You do the Jerk.
Matt: [laughs] If you look up the real dance online, what I do is just a terrible, terrible misconception of what it’s supposed to look like.
Kathy (putting a positive spin on): It’s a . . . reinterpretation.
Matt: [skeptical] I like to consider it more a backwards skip than any kind of dance.
Lynn: Fans really appreciate the back and forth they have with you.
Matt: I try to do as much as I can with Twitter. I send greetings, I love to say happy birthday. It hurts my feelings if one fan dislikes me. I want to make the movies they want to see, I want it to be a conjunction of what I love and what they love – my career, that’s what I want it to be. If they say “You should play this character” I want to look to get cast in that kind of role. It’s such a small percentage of my energy to do that. If I can make 10,000 people happy, if someone asks me something and it’s within my power [I’ll do it]. If you’re not giving back, why should people pay you so much money to recite lines? I understand that acting is an art and it takes a lot out of you, it really does, but it’s the amount of rejection that you’re actually being paid for. The 500 times a year that people tell you “You suck!” you’re getting paid for that 501st time that somebody says “Okay, we can work with you.” And you just have to accept that. …. I know actors who can’t get an agent, can’t get an audition. So when I go on an audition I make it like a day of work. I wake up at six in the morning, I go to the gym, I get focused, I eat the best breakfast, I make it like my 9-5. . . .
One of the things we love about Matt is his honesty. Every SPN actor we’ve chatted with has talked thoughtfully about feeling incredibly lucky to do what they do, and Matt’s no exception – but the business is also a grueling one psychologically.
Matt: And I work out in the gym because it’s a necessary thing for a guy who’s my character type, I have to be fit. People don’t understand, I want to be healthy, but I work out as hard as I do because it’s my job. Anybody that tells you their body doesn’t sell their work is lying and number two that sex doesn’t sell is lying.
Lynn and Kathy (deadpan): You’ll like our book.
Matt: I can’t wait to read it. Truthfully I walk into an audition and it’s me and ten dudes who look like Jared and Jensen…..Before you even say a word of your audition, they’re already going in their mind “Not even close” and then you read your audition and they’re going “okay, thank you.” And you just know it. They’ve judged you before you’ve opened your mouth. It doesn’t matter how great you are, what you believe in, who your family is, none of that matters.
Kathy: We’ve talked to the other Supernatural actors about this too – how do you cope with that level of rejection?
Matt: Cookies! Binge eating Oreos. It hurts your stomach, but boy does it feel good.
Lynn (attempting a smooth journalistic transition…..sorta): Speaking of the way you look being part of how you sell yourself, what was it like doing that scene in Cowgirl Up? (If you haven’t checked out crossdressing Matt in soap suds covered shorts yet, please do – whew!)
Matt: Thank you guys for watching that! I don’t think I’m good in the character by any means, but I think it was one of the more courageous things I’ve done as an actor. As LA views me, I want them to see that, I want that to be the only thing on my acting reel. I just gave into it and it wasn’t that I was making fun of being transgender, it was more that I was giving in to what a crossdressing, transgender person would do and would be like. I shaved my legs! It took me like five hours! These legs [graciously shows us his legs] don’t shave easily! I’m like a wildebeest. And growing back – I’m telling you sleeping is not fun when your legs rub together and I wake up with rashes on my calves, among other places. It’s tough. I would just have to have some kind of surgery to never grow hair again if I were a lady.
Kathy (in another smooth journalistic transition): Have you seen Chad in drag?
Matt: No I haven’t.
Kathy: Watch The Velocity of Gary. (The rest of you – do the same!)
Matt: Let me tell you something about him. I had no idea who he was. When I saw him I said “Oh my god, it’s the guy from The Fast and the Furious!” We sat down and he is amazing. I’ve never seen him on Supernatural. I’ve seen his picture with the mullet but I wasn’t familiar with his work. I remember him being great in The Fast and the Furious, I remember feeling so genuinely hurt when he loses his car and the race. So I look up his work and I’m just like, I want to be him. I told him “Your whole energy is so great, you’re just a great actor.” Everything about him, who he is, the person he is to the fans, he’s amazing.
We happen to agree 100%. About Matt as well as Chad – and just about everyone else we’ve gotten to know who’s connected to Supernatural. Obviously we picked the perfect Show and fandom, as did the rest of you reading this blog!
More from Nashcon soon – including lunch with Matt’s new buddy Chad and Richard Speight Jr. and two big announcements from us at Fangasm!