Not every project will pan out the way you hope, but the value of a good learning experience can still make those misfires very worth while, and that’s how Oliver Jackson-Cohen looks back on Faster.
The 2010 release stars Dwayne Johnson as “Driver,” an ex-con determined to avenge his brother’s death. As he plows through the names on his list, not only must Driver keep clear of the cops on his tail, but also a hired hitman, Jackson-Cohen’s “Killer.” He’s a bit of an eccentric and unhinged individual who’s always looking for the next big thrill and achieving perfection in the process.
In celebration of the release of The Haunting of Bly Manor, Jackson-Cohen joined us for a new episode of Collider Connected during which we looked back on a few of his earliest projects, Faster included. Here’s what he said about first signing on for the film:
“I think that with that character, I remember being really, really excited. Listen, it was such an insane opportunity. I had done this tiny show in the UK for the BBC and then had got this sort of small part in this movie with Drew [Barrymore], and then this was the follow-up a couple of weeks later. And it was one of the three leads in this movie with Billy Bob Thornton and Dwayne Johnson, and George Tillman directed it who’s a phenomenal director. Again it was like, ‘Oh my god, there’s all of this pressure.’”
Faster was undoubtedly a fantastic opportunity for a rising star, but as we now know, the finished product wasn’t especially widely embrace, with the “Killer” role in particular getting a good deal of criticism.
“I felt like what ended up happening is that the character went through so many different changes. And I don’t know necessarily if I was bold enough at the time to sort of say, ‘This doesn’t feel right.’ And there was a whole part of that character, if I remember correctly, that was supposed to be on medication and then there was a test that they did with an audience and then they said, ‘Oh, we can’t.’ I just remember watching it and just thinking, ‘What the hell is going on with this dude? He’s insane!’”
Even though his character didn’t quite come together in the finished film, Jackson-Cohen did highlight a very valuable lesson learned from the experience:
“I think it was such a good learning experience, you know? I had so little experience as well, and so I was sort of still finding my feet. What that movie did do for me is it made me – I was sort of raised to be sort of obedient and compliant, and so I was told, ‘If the director asks you to do something, you do it. You don’t question it. You do it.’ And not that this was the case on Faster, but I think that I was sort of trying so many different hats on that I ended up wearing all of the hats. It sort of taught me to trust myself a bit more and trust what I felt was right.”
Jackson-Cohen also added:
“I’m genuinely not gonna lie, but I am mortified whenever I’m flicking the channels and it’s on TV; I’m like, ‘Quick! Turn it off! Turn it off! Turn it off!’ But it was a great thing. I think it was a great experience to have that because, you know, I didn’t get into drama school. Those first five years of my career were my drama school. It was me making mistakes, it was me trying things out that didn’t work, but on a scale that was a bit less forgiving than just in a quiet room. But they were very, very important. It was a very important learning process. All of that kind of early stuff.”
If that early stuff is what paved the way to what he manages to accomplish in shows like The Haunting of Hill House and Bly Manor, then that on-set drama school most certainly did the trick. Be sure to catch Jackson-Cohen in Bly Manor available on Netflix now and click here to watch his full Collider Connected interview to hear all about working with Drew Barrymore on Going the Distance, why The Secret River was a standout experience and more!