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Thousands move to Los Angeles each year to be in movies.
Not long ago Oliver Cooper was one of the would-be stars making the journey.
And now the 22-year-old from Sylvania Township is one of three unknown actors starring in the low-budget and very R-rated comedy Project X, which opens nationwide Friday. Shot in documentary style, the Warner Bros. film is about an insanely wild high school party at a Burbank, Calif., home that quickly grows out of control. Thrown by three nerdy friends, the party features hundreds of drunken teenagers who spill out into the street, police in riot gear, TV news crews, and a crotch-punching midget.
Cooper plays Costa, the cocky and sarcastic member of the trio with a knack for party hosting. Cooper delivers the majority of the film's funny lines and rightfully stands to benefit most from the big-screen exposure.
But the 2008 Sylvania Northview High School graduate isn't thinking of himself right now. It's all about Project X.
"The film is really the breakout," he said in a recent phone interview while in Chicago for a press junket. "If people think that [I'm the breakout], that's fantastic and awesome. But there are a lot of people talking about this movie."
Cooper is referring to the myriad test screenings for college students, resulting in waves of big laughs and high marks for his raunchy comedy. Given the fallow late-winter period for these kinds of movies, Project X could do well at the box office.
But the young actor and stand-up comic defers credit to others, including Todd Philips (Old School, The Hangover and its sequel), who produced the movie, and its first-time director Nima Nourizadeh, as well as the two other main actors, Thomas Mann -- the only one with any real acting credit with a small role in the indie comedy It's Kind of a Funny Story -- and Jonathan Daniel Brown.
"Todd Phillips is an amazingly talented guy, Nima Nourizadeh ... has an incredible artistic vision," he said. "And the actors I got to work with are friends of mine to this day."
But what area residents will see of Cooper onscreen isn't what many may remember of him in real life.
Cooper's mom, Wendy, 55, said the youngest of her and husband Mike's three children was "quiet but outgoing" growing up. And he most definitely never threw outrageous parties.
"He would talk to anybody. He was very inquisitive and wouldn't stop asking questions," she said. "He was a good kid and pretty laid back. He's still kind of laid back [but] determined when he wants to do something."
After a year at Arizona State University, Cooper announced to his parents he wanted to leave school and move to L.A. to pursue an acting career.
"I thought he'd be back in no time," she said. "You don't imagine your son getting into a movie."
And now Wendy isn't sure what to think.
"It hasn't hit me that he's in a movie. You hear about that, but I can't imagine it," she said. "I'm sure once I see the movie ... then it will really hit me.
"I'm happy for him. I hope the film's successful. I just hope he can support himself."
Contact Kirk Baird at email@example.com or 419-724-6734.