Meet Joe Cooper : dangerous, steely, smoldering. On the surface, he may appear selfish, cocky and downright scary, but there's more to him than meets the eye. Big Idea sits down with actor Rick Eldredge to discuss Tracy Lett's Killer Joe and the complexities of his character, Joe Cooper.
Big Idea: What was your first reaction upon reading Killer Joe?
Rick: My initial reaction? That is was cheap thrills. Funny, exciting. It reminded me of a Tarantino script. But as with Tarantino, I found myself wondering if the piece had any soul to it.
Big Idea: Joe has quite the unique perspective. What would you say defines his outlook?
Rick: His occupation as a detective. I believe the things Joe has seen in his line of work has shaped both his morality as well as his approach to personal relationships.
Big Idea: How does Joe feel about love?
Rick: Ironically, Joe sees love as a rare and special thing. I believe he has experienced it maybe once before in his life, and had a bad experience with in. Being a cautious man, I think it took a special person like Dottie to change his mind about love. Clearly, she is not the sort of girl he runs into every day, in the office, at the bar - that sort of thing.
Big Idea: About death?
Rick: I think Joe lives in a world where life and death are brethren. He does not hesitate to kill when it suits his personal code of ethics, yet I believe he feels he is sort of the angel of death. That old-time Baptist religion is ingrained in him. Joe is fire and brimstone, old testament style.
Big Idea: What did you find most challenging in tackling and exploring this character?
Rick: Joe has a weight to him - a slow tempo and ease of movement - that I, as a person, don't have. He is very efficient in his behavior and movements, directed by a sharp intellect and cautious nature. Finding and keeping that rhythm while remaining natural is difficult.
Big Idea: In Killer Joe, do the characters define their own circumstances or do the circumstances define the characters?
Rick: Though products of their environment, the characters are definitely directors of their fate.
Big Idea: How so?
Rick: The apple of greed is dangled in front of them and they all bite. All save Dottie. She is the innocent. She is a product of her chaotic environment, yet somehow the force and strength of her character pushes through in a powerful way at the end of the play.
Big Idea: What would you say is at the core of Killer Joe?
Rick: Dottie. She reminds me of mother nature or something. Man gets cocky and does something to mess with the earth and mother nature sends a tornado, or hurricane, or something badass to humble us. Dottie is that hurricane: quiet for most of the play, and then... SLAM!
Big Idea: How has this piece changed or enhanced your view of the world?
Rick: It reminds me that sometimes, even in the most depraved, desperate individuals, there is a longing for love and order.