Home TV

From Perth to Hollywood: Why Cooper van Grootel is Australia’s hottest export

“You’ve just got to find things you really love, so you can really attach to it and that will give you drive and purpose.”

Between his impressive acting chops and boyish good looks, Cooper’s journey and charming persona has all the makings of a young Heath Ledger – a charming young talent from Perth who’s been thrust into the glare of the Hollywood limelight.

“I really look up to Heath Ledger, I think he’s an amazing actor and I can draw some parallels between our trajectories. He started off in Perth and moved to Sydney and did a couple of projects there and then went to LA and set it off there,” he said of the late The Dark Knight star.

“I think it’s really important to show those sorts of stories where people start off in a small town with not too much hope, and they take the big leap. I also love what Jacob Elordi is doing. I think his work in Euphoria is absolutely incredible,” Cooper added.

Credit: Peter Hayes

Like Heath, Cooper is incredibly passionate and determined when it comes to his craft, a path he chose to follow at age 11 following a life-long passion for movies – and he’s never looked back.

“I was a bit of a movie buff growing up. My dad and I loved watching all the big blockbusters,” Cooper reflected.

“It’s a weird story. I was watching this movie called Coraline and was very intrigued and fascinated by it. And it was just in a split moment I had a thought of, ‘I wanna do, like whatever that is, whatever is going in this film, that’s what I want to do”.

“I looked up acting schools in Perth, signed up for one, and met Hallie Mckeig, who has now been my agent for the past several years!”

“At about 18 I went over to LA after my US manager, Karli Doumanis, who is actually also from Perth, was like, ‘Oh, well you should get a visa for the US and come over and start auditioning.’ So then I made the jump over to LA and started the auditioning game and the rest is kind of history,” he added.

A true artist at his core, Cooper goes above and beyond when it comes to delving into the depths of any role he takes on, with his performance in One of Us Is Lying seeing him keep a journal on-set to get into the mindset of Nate Macauley throughout the show’s first day.

Credit: Peter Hayes

“One thing I learned was that I very much invested myself into the writings and the ideas and the values of the character. And I think you have to be very careful that you don’t take on the persona of the character,” he said, adding, “It’s very important to have a step-out process. So that’s one thing that I do. At the end of every day, I have my step-out set process so I can leave everything at work – it doesn’t come home with me.

“I think the really big thing for me is costume. When I have a new project, I love getting into fittings, because it’s kind of finalising the last little piece of the character and you can really see yourself in the role in the shoes of the character. Nate wears the leather jacket, the plain tee and the black jeans and as soon as I put the boots on, it’s like ‘Yeah. He’s back!’”

With his career only getting hotter, Cooper hopes to be able to “tell stories that impact people and have a positive emotional response.”

“And by that I mean they’re moved and leave with a new sort of perspective on the world. I think in today’s society, people can seem a little lost. I think society is a little broken, it’s very polarised,” he mused.

Credit: Peter Hayes

“The main message and story I want to tell is that we’re all human beings and that in order to feel fulfilled in this life, we need to see people coming together, loving one another, and finding their passion.”

“You’ve just got to find things you really love, so you can really attach to it and that will give you drive and purpose. I want to tell these stories that make people feel hustle and drive and joy. I think that’s super, super important.”

Shop Cooper’s looks on au.brixton.com or follow their Instagram.