Cooper Barrett’s Guide to Surviving Life might not be the most trustworthy primer on making it through one’s existence unscathed, but it’s certainly among the most amusing. The new Fox series, which premiered this week, follows Barrett—played by Jack Cutmore-Scott, who you recognize from Kingsmen: The Secret Service—as he graduates college and, alongside a ragtag group of cohorts, begins to understand that the world isn’t always as welcoming—or free from off-the-wall adventures—as he might have hoped.
Here Cutmore-Scott explains the appeal of a misguided twenty-something, the most difficult part of filming and why he’s become an inspiration to television corpses everywhere.
You just finished filming the series, how do you feel?
Yes. What day is it now? I mean we got off the plane this morning. We finished on Friday night around 2:30 in the morning. Now, here I am on Monday morning.
There are 13 episodes in this first season. Were you at it a long time?
We shot the pilot in March, and there was a bit of waiting around until May to find out if they were going to order more episodes. The network asked for six more episodes at that point, so we came back in late August and shot those. Then during those six, they decided to add another seven to make a full 13-episode season. We wrapped those on Friday.
That’s quite an endeavor! What about Cooper made you want to spend so much time playing him?
He’s really an everyman. Cooper is someone who I immediately empathized with; he’s a guy who is fresh out of college in the first episode, and in episode two we catch up with the guys about four years after they’ve graduated—which isn’t that far off where I am right now. Cooper’s just trying to figure out his life. It’s one of those coming-of-age stories for the modern day, really. We all get stuff ourselves out into the world and expect everything to fall into place, and of course it doesn’t. That spoke to me.
What does the first season hold for him? Can we expect to see him figure it all out?
Each episode is born from a kernel of an idea about a problem to which we can all relate: how to survive insufficient funds or how to survive being a plus one to a wedding or how to survive your parents coming to visit. They are all very accessible problems, and the show just takes those issues and sort of runs with them slightly beyond what most of us will normally experience. As you’ll see, Cooper is as bad an influence as he is a good one. Despite the best intentions in the world, he manages to keep making the wrong decisions.
Are you as prone to stumbling upon wild adventures as this character seems to be?
I’m not as quite as accident-prone or given to adventures as Cooper. I definitely have a lot of the same shortcomings, but he does manage to get himself into more trouble than I have ever quite managed to get myself into.
In the first few episodes, Cooper’s chased, kidnapped and drugged. What part of this first season was most exciting to film?
There have been a number of them! In one of the episodes, Cooper finds himself drowning in the middle of the ocean, which made for quite a memorable day as I was doggy paddling off the coast for a few hours. Another time, I was hung upside down off a balcony and then dropped 20 feet, which was actually one of the hardest things to do. I didn’t think hanging upside down sounded that challenging, but it is actually quite hard to keep up while you say your lines and remember what the hell you were supposed to be doing. It was not the most enjoyable experience, but it was definitely one of the most memorable.
That must get more and more difficult the longer you hang.
I had a great conversation with a makeup artist the following day because I came in with a lot of burst blood vessels on my forehead and surrounding my eyes. He was like, that’s amazing; I can’t count a number of times that I’ve had to create that effect for murder victims on crime shows.
So, somewhere they are using pictures of you for inspiration of corpses?
Yeah! Someone who has really been through the ringer a little bit. I’m happy to do what I can to help.
Main image shot by Brooklin Rosenstock