After starring in Steven Spielberg's sci-fi blockbuster Ready Player One, actress Olivia Cooke ascends the ranks of English society in ITV and Amazon's Vanity Fair miniseries.
She spent five seasons on the A&E thriller Bates Motel, shaved her head to portray a leukemia patient in 2015 Sundance sensation Me and Earl and the Dying Girl and tackled a virtual reality world in Steven Spielberg’s spring sci-fi blockbuster Ready Player One. But life hasn’t really changed for 24-year-old Oldham, England, native Olivia Cooke.
“I don’t get recognized or bothered on the street,” says Cooke, who got her start in local theater and currently lives in New York City. “I’m still a working actor who’s trying to find the next job.”
This sense of hustle is what she most shares with Vanity Fair’s anti-heroine Becky Sharp, whom she depicts in ITV and Amazon’s seven-part adaptation of William Makepeace Thackeray’s 1848 novel, airing this fall. “I relate to her drive and ambition. We’ve both not got anything to fall back on, but I think she’s a lot naughtier and more mischievous.” Cooke loved writer Gwyneth Hughes’ fresh take on this popular story, in which a young woman fights to escape poverty and ascend English society amid the Napoleonic Wars. “It’s more accessible to a modern audience, more tongue-in-cheek, more flamboyant and really funny,” says Cooke, who stars opposite Johnny Flynn, Claudia Jessie and on-screen love interest Tom Bateman.
Cooke joins another ensemble cast in Life Itself—by This Is Us creator and sophomore film director Dan Fogelman—which follows interconnected people over time and opens Sept. 21. “Dan had produced Me and Earl and sent me the script,” says Cooke, who plays Olivia Wilde and Oscar Isaac’s rebellious daughter. “I read it in the bath and sobbed my heart out.”
Cooke’s already slated to portray tennis pro-turned-World War II spy Alice Marble on the big screen, but her future wish is only for continued work. “I have massive imposter syndrome [which so many actresses have] that I’m going to get found out any day and the rug’s going to be pulled from under me,” she says. “But we’ll see.”
Photography by: PHOTO BY AUSTIN HARGRAVE/AUGUST