When I hear the name Dane Cook, a barrage of images comes to mind. Dane, clad in black, running around animatedly on stage while dousing himself with bottled water. Dane writhing on the floor and shouting unintelligibly for a laughing crowd. Dane doing a skit that somehow turns a woman on the speaker at a fast food drive-thru window into a breathy phone sex operator talking about pickles.
In my mind, Dane Cook is the over-the-top stand-up comedian who is impossible to hate because of his boyish good looks. However, as his voice comes on the line at 7 p.m. on a Tuesday night, you could easily find yourself believing that you’re taking to your best friend’s cooler older brother.
He’s likely exhausted from a full day’s work on the set of his upcoming movie, Bachelor No. 2, and then being ushered off to field dozens of conference calls with hungry members of the press. But Cook’s voice comes over the line warm, friendly and genuinely enthusiastic to be giving us his time.
“Let’s rock and roll.”
Cook fields questions on a variety of topics, from his nomination as one of Time magazine’s “Hundred Most Influential People of 2006” to advice for the Cleveland Indians to his love for baseball. He also discusses the funniest thing in the world to him -a baby making a serious face – and his firm personal stance against drug and alcohol abuse.
However, many of the questions have to do with his quickly growing acting career and the roles he has played, especially in his most recent film Good Luck Chuck, to be released Sept. 21.
Cook’s character in the movie, Charlie, seems like the type of man that most men would dream of becoming. After refusing to kiss a girl in an elementary school game of spin the bottle, Charlie is cursed. His curse causes any woman he sleeps with to instantly find love with the next man she sleeps with after Charlie.
When word about Charlie’s status as a “good luck charm” gets out, he becomes a player with relationship-obsessed women throwing themselves at his feet, begging for just one night of pleasure. And who wouldn’t?
However, things change when Charlie meets the girl of his dreams, Cam (Jessica Alba), a girl as cute as she is klutzy. Unfortunately, because of Charlie’s curse, he knows that to break the sexual tension would mean losing Cam forever.
Most women would likely think that Cook could relate to Charlie and probably have dozens of women throwing themselves at his feet. And Cook said he does have some rather forward fans who send him pictures of themselves “naked, standing in Tapioca pudding.” But he insists that he’s really rather shy in his personal life.
“It’s almost like in the first act [of the movie], you’re seeing elements of how I am in my regular life, which is very reserved and shy,” Cook said. “And then, by the second act, you’re seeing a lot of physicality and you’re seeing elements of what I bring to my stand-up.”
Shy or not, Cook definitely hit it off with his gorgeous co-star. Alba, though not yet known for her comedic acting skills, was able to fit in perfectly with the cast of Good Luck Chuck, Cook said, bringing with her a real talent for one of Cook’s specialties – over-the-top physical comedy.
“Jessica really impressed me,” Cook said. “I mean, her physicality and her fearlessness, and of course, she’s – you know, she’s not ugly . . . [It’s difficult] to radiate [beauty] and still be able to make yourself look like an ass.”
Whether it’s because of his co-star or not, Cook comes off genuinely enthusiastic about the movie. He mentions that playing a role like Charlie, in which he has freedom with his comedic actions and the ability to make a heart-warming romantic comedy, is a dream come true for him.
“Literally, by the end of the first shot that day, I turned to my manager and said, ‘We’re doing something really special here,'” Cook said.
Cook makes it clear that he wants audiences to know him for more than just his comedic side, though.
“I’d love to be known as a guy that takes chances in my acting technique,” he said.
And Cook will definitely have chances to prove that to his fans in the future. His upcoming projects, including Bachelor No. 2, feature Cook in roles that will draw his more romantic and dramatic side out. And someday, Cook said, he hopes to put a script that he wrote himself on the big screen – a thriller called Steve’s Fortune that he says is “like a big budget Reservoir Dogs.”
However, fans of Cook’s comedy won’t have to wait long for another taste, either. Cook mentioned that a huge, 20-city comedy tour is also in the works.
When Cook isn’t working on a feature film or his stand-up comedy, you can find him responding to e-mails from his fans. Cook was the first comedian to ever have his own personal Web site that made him available to his fans, and to this day, he still goes to great lengths to stay in touch with those who got him where his today.
“I mean, any time somebody cries and then writes me an e-mail saying that I made them laugh through it . . . that makes me feel awesome. That makes me feel like I’ve really contributed to some of the fabric of somebody’s life for a minute,” Cook said. “And I sound like a goon, because I get so excited talking about it, but that’s the s— right there.”
Chrissy Reese can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.