Cooke was in town with co-stars Thomas Mann and RJ Cyler to promote the film. An interview with the director, Laredo’s Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, will be online and in print on Sunday.
As Rachel, Cooke plays a young woman who has been diagnosed with cancer in her senior year at high school, and she becomes friends with Greg (Mann) and Earl (Cyler). And part of the role meant that she would have to lose her hair, either by wearing a skullcap or shaving her head. Cooke opted for the shaving, with the help of her two co-stars.
“It wasn’t liberating or freeing like everyone said it would be. It was hard,” she says. “I’ve never had no hair, and it means losing one of the most distinguishable features for a woman. You become almost unrecognizable, and you lose your femininity in a way.”
She adds: “There’s nothing really that can make you feel beautiful again, because you don’t get the attention you used to, and it made me feel angry for a while — how women are perceived, and how people consider hair is related to sexuality, and how you become inaccessible without hair.”
Still, Cooke says that her co-stars were great on the set and helped her get through it. They’ve been together quite a bit after making the movie, because they’re traveling around the country to do interviews.
The movie opens Friday in Austin. It’s a good one.