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Exclusive interview: Curtiss Cook on “Manifest,” pizza and “The Chi”

You may recognize Curtiss Cook from playing Flight 828 passenger Radd on Manifest. You can also catch Cook on Showtime’s The Chi. We were able to talk to Cook all about Manifest, The Chi and my favorite topic: pizza. Read our interview below!

Madeline Klepec: Knowing that you acted alongside your real-life son in Manifest just makes the scenes you had together that much more powerful. Seriously, I had goosebumps during that episode! What was it like getting to have your real-life son also be your TV son?

Curtiss Cook: Thank you for the compliment about our scenes! Having my real life son play my son on-screen was surreal and wonderful. It was one of those things that you dare not ask for because it would be grossly presumptuous and greedy. Although we haven’t had to live that particular incident in real life, the feeling of not being able to see him again after 5 1/2 years, then knowing that he was in a place where I could not protect him, conjured so many emotions in me as a father. On top of all that, looking across from my true son and imagining that … WOO it brought all the emotions out of me. Even now thinking about it makes me shake a little. I agree; I feel he did a terrific job and I’m glad you enjoyed it.

MK: What can you tell our readers about your character in Showtime’s “The Chi”?

CC: On the second season of “The Chi,” premiering April 7th on Showtime, I play “Douda” a very smart, rich, and powerful man from the south side of Chicago who has strong ties to the city. He’s a man who should either be feared or championed…maybe both.

MK: The Chi focuses on the danger and life in the Southside of Chicago, which is really interesting. Being from the Chicagoland area myself, this is a unique but also an important focus for a TV show. What first drew you to this show and this role?

CC: Yeah, I agree they do focus on the dangers of the city, but the aspect that really drew me to the show was the focus of life in the Midwest, more pointedly the Southside of Chicago. I grew up in Dayton, Ohio. Although it’s no Chicago, it’s not that different, and what I saw in the first season of the show was a depiction of people I had grown up with i.e. mothers, teachers, neighborhood fathers, you know real life folk just trying to get through the day, month, year of their lives. These are people that we rarely see represented on major television shows in large ways. It’s important to see yourself in art and other reflections, especially as a child. It lets you know (if you don’t already) that you MATTER !!! That was one of the biggest draws of the show — the real-life aspect. Now, what Lena Waithe and Ayanna Floyd Davis have done for season 2, YA’LL AIN’T READY! It’s going to be amazing.

MK: Because I have to know, Manifest takes place in NYC and The Chi in Chicago. In your opinion, NYC or Chicago pizza? No pressure.

CC: Haha, you can’t ask me that question and put “no pressure!” I’m going to say…

MK: You first began your career on Broadway, and in Manifest, you play a character who also has the music bug. Was it exciting to get to explore your musical roots as this character?

CC: Yes, most definitely! When I was told that Radd was a classical violinist, even though I don’t play that instrument AT ALL, and then on top of that was going to have to have a Jamaican accent?, I was like,“it’s time to roll up the sleeves and get to work.” That’s one of the joys of acting for me: the journey it can lead you on — learning new things that you may not have ever thought about before. Now, I know how to hold a violin bow and a violin properly and play a few songs. DON’T BOOK ME FOR ANY CONCERTS, but hell I think I pulled it off just fine!

MK: Okay, there are many theories of what happened to Flight 828 on Manifest. What do you think actually happened to that plane and those passengers? Because I have absolutely no ideas!

CC:I really don’t know, but what I will say is “God is a many splendid thing!”

You all can follow Cook on social media @curtisscook! Make sure to look for him in Manifest and The Chi! 

Feature image via IMDb

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Madeline Klepec

Madeline is a college student majoring in journalism with a minor in broadcasting. When she isn't writing for Hollywood News Source, Talk Nerdy With Us or her college's paper, she's drinking too much coffee and probably fangirling over Captain Swan. She also likes to watch Hallmark movies and mercilessly rewatches 'Once Upon a Time'.

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