Interview | Curtiss Cook On Why Showtime’s ‘The Chi’ Is A “Beautiful” Series
Photo: Steven Ferdman/FilmMagic (Getty Images)
Born in Dayton, Ohio, Curtiss Cook followed his passion for acting from London’s prestigious Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts (the first American to receive a full-ride scholarship) to Broadway in New York City. A single father of three children, Cook began auditioning for the big and small screen. Cook’s impressive and diverse acting credits in film, television, and theater include stand-out roles in Netflix’s House of Cards, Marvel’s Luke Cage, and Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island.
Cook will next appear on Showtime’s The Chi, an American drama series created by Emmy winner Lena Waithe about life in a neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago. The network renewed the series for a second season, which will premiere on April 7, 2019.
We were able to speak with Cook over email about his new role, working alongside his son on NBC’s Manifest, what it was like playing on Kurt Sutter’s Sons of Anarchy spinoff Mayans M.C., and why he feels fortunate to be a part of an important, eye-opening series like The Chi.
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Mandatory: What can you tell us about your character on The Chi’s second season?
Curtiss Cook: First off, I would like to say thank you to Mandatory for allowing me to come on to your website and share, it’s greatly appreciated. On The Chi’s second season I play “Douda,” a very smart, rich, and powerful man who has his hands in a few pots throughout the south side of Chicago all for the good of “his” people. Throughout the season we’ll come to find out if he’s one to be trusted, feared or both.
Photo: Maury Phillips/WireImage (Getty Images)
How did the project come about?
One of my mottoes is, “If you stay ready, you ain’t got to get ready,” and this appointment was just that. I was ready and it was well received. Let me tell you, it is a wonderful feeling when folks see in you what you want them to see in you and they appreciate it and admire it because they know it’s hard and well-earned. I think that’s what Ayanna Davis Floyd, Lena Waithe and the team over at The Chi saw.
What about the show resonated with you?
The show resonates with me because I grew up in the Midwest and the lives they show on this show are people I’ve seen and known all of my life: people who are sometimes marginalized and forgotten, people who are quickly stereotyped and punished because of it. This show is a vivid peek in the lives of Americans living day to day, caring about their families, and their communities, and making change in small, great ways, in ways that ripple into bigger change. This show is beautiful and I’m really fortunate to be a part of it.
What was it like working with your son, Curtiss Cook Jr., on Manifest?
Working with my son on Manifest is something I will hold dear for a very long time, and the emotional attachment to it is, in a lot of ways, overbearing. I have to stop myself sometimes of re-living it or I could become a happy emotional wreck. We’ll do it again, you can bet on it.
Photo: Universal Television
What was your favorite part about working on Mayans M.C. and playing DEA Agent Bowen?
One of my favorite parts of working on the set of Mayans was the feeling of community I felt on the set. The show was really steeped in a culture that I feel is underrepresented in our business and world but was truly alive on that lot in California. I feel very blessed to have been a part of Kurt Sutter and Elgin James' storytelling vision.
You previously starred as Terry Womack on House of Cards. What are your thoughts on how the series ended?
You know, endings are hard for a lot of different reasons, but with talent like Michael Kelly and Robin Wright at the head, it’s hard to go wrong. The only thing I feel they missed was to bring Terry Womack back! Yeah, I said it!
Thanks again Mandatory for the talk. Much love and respect.