Many people long to have had a more entitled upbringing, but Dominic Cooper isn’t in that camp.
“I’ve never seen it be that healthy, just growing up with too much, having everything. You can be really envious of that and think it’s the best thing in the world but actually, from my experience, it’s a hindrance to everyone,” says the bright-eyed 35-year-old. “It prohibits that desire to need or want or invest or dare or take risks. It’s full of more complications than the other way round.”
Born and raised in South East London, his grounded roots have served him well. He’s now one of the most prominent actors working in Hollywood following his turn in the 2008 box office smash Mamma Mia! opposite Meryl Streep. But while his life might now involve enviable travel opportunities and red carpet glamour, he finds certain experiences amusing.
“You find yourself in ambassadors’ houses in different countries and you go, ‘Gosh, if they could see me when I was scratching around the streets of Lewisham [South London] late at night having fun!’” he says, laughing.
Cooper’s start in life is far removed from the grandeur of Bond creator Ian Fleming, who he plays in a glossy new series called Fleming on Sky Atlantic. The drama starts during the Second World War, where Fleming is drafted as an intelligence officer, and in doing so, finds his inspiration for 007.
“Fleming is a very complex, strange, disturbed individual, which is what attracted me to the role,” says the actor. “Fleming’s family connections finally managed to get him a job with the secret service, and suddenly his vivid imagination came to life and he had a very different take on how to win the war. I met various people who have some sort of connection to the spying world and they talk of Ian and say he was the real deal,” he adds.
While Fleming was “brutish” and “difficult to be around”, Cooper is open about the fact he wouldn’t mind a shot at playing his famous, suave, womanising intelligence officer. “I don’t think there will be anyone who says: ‘No thanks, I won’t do that job’, or, ‘That’s not my thing’. You have to say yes to Bond.”
But if he were to ever be in the running, Cooper says he’d have to consider the role very carefully. “Daniel Craig has given some really interesting interviews about how he can’t ever do a small film again, because the moment he becomes involved, it turns huge, the money triples in a second and becomes something that it didn’t intend to be.
“But you then remember as a kid seeing those Bond films and thinking, ‘Does someone actually get paid? Is that someone’s job? That’s unbelievable!’”