Emory Cohen is an American actor who is best known for his role in Brooklyn, a romantic historical drama film directed by John Crowley and also starring Saoirse Ronan. Emory, who took an unconventional route towards acting, developed an interest in the art when, at a young age, he mentioned to a friend he was thinking of auditioning for a play.
Pursuing a career as an actor, though rough at times, has proven to be rewarding. Finally getting his flowers for his acting skills, it is perhaps only right to review his acting journey. His career can be best be viewed in two parts – Before Brooklyn and after Brooklyn.
A School Play Inspired Emory Cohen to Pursue An Acting Career
When Emory Cohen told his friend that he was thinking of auditioning for a school play, he had no clue it was going to be the start of an amazing career. His friend, bless his heart, told the teacher in charge and Cohen found himself drafted into the play. The play, as it turned out, was a school production of The Threepenny Opera and Cohen played the role of Mr. Peachum. After getting a taste of acting, Cohen told his father that he wanted to pursue the craft professionally. His father signed him up for the Lee Strasberg Institute. Whilst at the institute, he continued to appear in small plays.
Following graduation from Elisabeth Irwin High School in 2008, he proceeded to the University of Arts in Philadelphia to study acting on a full scholarship. He dropped out after two years to move to New York and further his acting education.
His first appearance in a feature film came in 2008 when he played a supporting role in Afterschool. The movie marked his introduction to Hollywood, and it premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. After receiving positive reviews from critics, it marked a solid beginning for Cohen.
He then appeared in an uncredited role in the movie New York, I Love You. His next acting role came almost a year later; in 2009, he appeared in the directorial debut of Michael Imperioli, The Hungry Ghosts. The project also generated positive reviews from critics.
Emory Cohen’s Career Took a Significant Turn In 2012
The year 2012 has so far proven to be his busiest and best acting period yet as he appeared in 3 movies. The first movie, Four, had him playing a different role than his fans were used to. An independent film, he played the love interest of Wendell Pierce’s character.
He then got cast to play Avery Cross Jr in Derek Cianfrance’s crime drama, The Place Beyond the Pines. He played the role of Bradley Cooper’s character’s difficult son and had to display an edge to his acting. The movie featured an ensemble cast of Ryan Gosling, Eva Mendes, Bradley Cooper, Rose Byrne, Mahershala Ali, Ray Liotta, and Dane DeHaan, among others.
It was Cohen’s most notable movie at the time, and it earned positive reviews and grossed over $47million worldwide. In 2012, he went on to seal his first TV role when he began playing a recurring role on the series Smash. His character was on the show for a year and appeared in fifteen episodes.
From 2013 to 2014, Emory Cohen appeared in ‘only’ three movies, the most notable of which was The Gambler where he played a tennis player, alongside Mark Wahlberg and Brie Larson.
His Half-Uncles Helped Him Prepare for His ‘Brooklyn’ Role
Every actor prays for that breakthrough moment that catapults them into the upper echelon. This moment arrived for Emory Cohen when he got cast in the drama, Brooklyn. According to Cohen, he did not have positive expectations regarding getting the role.
He had previously sent in two audition tapes that he felt were substandard and was not expecting a callback. Luckily enough, he got a call from John Crowley, the director, and they had a discussion concerning ideas on the character. The conversation and his audition tapes, however, convinced the director he was great for the role, and the rest is history.
For the role of Tony, an Italian plumber, Cohen revealed that he took inspiration from his half-uncles who were half-Italians and were loud, colorful people.
Having grown up with them, it was easier for him to channel this knowledge into his acting. He also revealed that he saw bits and pieces of himself in Tony as well and it helped make his acting more genuine and relatable.
His Performance in Brooklyn Made Him A Hollywood Favourite
Following the release of Brooklyn in 2015, critics were awed by Cohen’s performance and the movie in general. The film signaled his first role as a lead in a romantic movie as he played Tony, the love interest of the main character, Eilis (ably played by Saoirse Ronan). Movie critics like Rex Reed and Variety’s Kristopher Tapley gave him high praise.
As further evidence of his excellent performance, Emory Cohen was named the Breakthrough Performer of the Year at the Hamptons International Film Festival. The movie was a hit at the box office and grossed a worldwide total of $62million against a budget of $11million.
With more visibility comes more opportunities, and that was precisely the case with Emory Cohen. After the success of Brooklyn, acting projects started coming in thick and fast. His acting career witnessed an upward trajectory, with increased consideration for more starring roles.
The visibility further grew during award seasons. Cohen earned nominations from San Diego Film Critics Society, New York Film Critics Online, and International Cinephile Society amongst others.
Emory Cohen’s Filmography Has Grown Since Brooklyn
After Brooklyn, Emory Cohen has gone ahead to star in several movies. In 2015, he starred in the film Stealing Cars alongside established stars Mike Epps, William H. Macy, and John Leguizamo. Emory Cohen has been intentional about being diverse with his acting skills, and it has reflected in his filmography so far.
He has starred in thrillers like Detour, Vincent N Roxxy, Shot Caller, and The Wolf Hour and horror projects like Lords of Chaos and Sweetheart. Cohen has also appeared in the American Western, The Duel alongside Liam Hemsworth and Woody Harrelson.
Emory worked again with Liam Hemsworth in the 2019 crime action, Killerman. He also had a supporting role in the satirical war movie, War Machine, starring Brad Pitt, Tilda Swindon, and Ben Kingsley. The David Michod-directed movie was based on the nonfiction book The Operators: The Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America’s War in Afghanistan. The film was released on Netflix on May 26, 2017.
His career as a TV actor also received a boost after the success of Brooklyn. In 2016, he began playing Homer Roberts on the Netflix series, The OA. He played this role until 2019 and featured in 14 episodes. He also appeared in 3 episodes as Joe Lindsley on Showtime’s miniseries called The Loudest Voice in 2019.
With several studios and TV networks interested in his talents, Emory Cohen will be on our screens for years to come. He is already scheduled to appear in films like Big Gold Brick, The Education of Fredrick Fitzwell, and Blue Bayou.