Oliver Jackson-Cohen on which films are his cinematic obsessions

Oliver Jackson-Cohen on which films are his cinematic kryptonite | Soho House

The star of ‘The Haunting Of Hill House’ and ‘The Lost Daughter’ reveals his formative filmmaking influences

Monday 10 October 2022   By James Conrad Williams   Photography by Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times/Contour RA

For someone who does scary so well on screen, most notably in The Invisible Man and The Haunting Of Hill House, Oliver Jackson-Cohen is nothing of the sort in real life. In fact, he’s charm personified. 

With recent screen credits in last year’s Oscar-nominated The Lost Daughter (in which he was also quite menacing) and most recently his Apple TV series, Surface (opposite Gugu Mbatha-Raw), Jackson-Cohen is steadily establishing himself as one of the UK’s most in-demand young actors. 

Next up, he can be seen as the dashing romantic lead in Emily, the cinematic imagining of the life of Wuthering Heights author, Emily Brontë, played by Emma Mackey (Sex Education). Here, he tells Soho House about the films that have made him laugh, cry and want to act in the first place…

What’s the first film you remember seeing and what effect did it have on you as a child? 
Home Alone. I remember being taken to the cinema to see it with my dad. It was the catalyst that made me want to become an actor because I so badly wanted to be Kevin McCallister. I came home and my dad explained that they were making a sequel, and so I decided that I was going to be that kid. I sat in the window of my parents’ house that looked out onto the street for a week hoping that someone would walk past and go “there’s the kid for our movie” – which looking back on it is beyond f**ked up.’
 
What’s your favourite film from your teens that you still watch to this day and how does it hold up?
Cruel intentions. But if I’m honest, I rewatched it again a few years ago and not entirely sure if it does? Scream was a big one, too, and that definitely holds up. Neve Campbell deserved an Oscar.’ 
 
Who was your first movie-star crush?
‘Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman in Batman Returns. Jesus Christ. Name me a sexier villain – I’ll wait.’ 
 
What’s your ultimate comfort film that immediately makes you feel better if you’re having a bad day?
‘There’s a French movie that my dad used to make us watch when we were kids called La Gloire De Mon Père, which is such a beautiful film. I rewatch that quite a lot. It reminds me of him, that blazing summer heat in France and growing up there.’
 
If you had a pick a favourite genre of film, what would it be and why?
‘Drama is probably the safest option for finding and watching someone good or powerful. Comedy and horror are too hit and miss sometimes. Fantasy and action have historically just never really grabbed me in the same way. If you sit me in front of a Xavier Dolan movie, I am one contented man.’ 
 
What ‘classic’ movie have you never got around to watching?
‘Oof, there are a few. I’ve never seen The Sound Of Music or West Side Story. Never seen The Godfather: Part II. Or Part III for that matter. I finally got around to watching Citizen Kane during lockdown 2020, and I’m still busy giving myself a pat on the back for that one.’
 
What’s your go-to Christmas movie?
Elf or Die Hard.’
 
What’s your film soundtrack of choice and why?
‘Purely because of nostalgia, it’s a toss-up between Cruel Intentions, The Beach and The Blow soundtrack.’
 
Do you own any movie posters or memorabilia?
‘My whole room was filled with movie posters when I was a teen. It was the most bat-sh*t crazy mix. There was an American Pie poster next to a One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest one and, then a poster of The Faculty. I have an original Jaws one that was a present after I worked with Amblin [Entertainment], which is pretty special.’ 
 
If you could have played any role in the whole history of movie making, what would it be and why?
‘Ooh, that’s a tough one. But think I have to go back to Macaulay Culkin’s early career and say Home Alone, Home Alone 2: Lost In New York and Richie Rich.’
 
Here’s an opportunity to right a cinematic wrong; what film do you feel is criminally underrated?
Deep Blue Sea. I actually heard a Rotten Tomatoes podcast recently that made the same case. Samuel L Jackson is f**king brilliant in that, as is Stellan Skarsgård. Sharks that know what’s up? I don’t see how anyone could question it.’ 
 
Your smart TV is cursed and you can only stream one movie for the rest your life – what is it?
A Place In The Sun from 1951. Montgomery Clift and Elizabeth Taylor are a masterclass. Also, not to be confused with the property show where people go to Spain to buy flats…’

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