By Sally Holmes
Nesta Cooper tells me she feels very bright about her future. It's easy to see why. After sitting for a just an hour with the actress, whose credits include The Edge of Seventeen, Apple TV+'s See, and the Owen Wilson-Salma Hayek thriller Bliss out next year, it's clear that she's not just a talented actress and superhumanly beautiful person, she's also nice. Really nice. The kind of person anyone—and everyone—would want to root for.
After a day snow shoeing and sleigh-riding in Aspen, Nesta and I connect over a beer at the historic Hotel Jermone to discuss everything from her love of actress Sophia Bush ("Sophia Bush is the reason I started acting," Nesta says. "I mean, I think I would've no matter what, but she was the horse that kicked me in the butt because I loved One Tree Hill and she inspired me so much. I was like I want to be this person. And I think that was what really made me go to my mom and be like, 'Mom, I want to do this.'") to her burgeoning passion for fashion. We're in town to celebrate the opening of Chanel's Ephemeral pop-up boutique (open now through January 21), and the actress eagerly expresses how excited she is to be part of it. "I really feel like I started my fashion journey just this summer because that was my first time really working with a publicist and exploring that side of acting and my career in that way," she explains. "And I just never ever thought that I would be here now. I just feel so, so lucky. This is the craziest thing I've ever done."
Below, the actress shares her thoughts on personal style, red carpet fashion, and her dream acting gig.
Marie Claire: Will you tell me a little bit about what you're doing now and what you're working on?
Nesta Cooper: See season one is done now. I finished that up in the summertime and then I went and did a movie in California with Salma Hayek and Owen Wilson, which was super fun. It's more of a psychological thriller than a sci-fi movie—it's really, really interesting. It's a cool and smart film. I'm really proud of it. And now I've just been chilling because I go back and do season two of See in January.
MC: That’s exciting. I imagine it's like camp where the summer ends and then you're going to see all these people again after a break.
NC: It honestly is really, really nice. We've been pretty good at keeping up with each other over the break even though we're all from literally completely different places. All the series regulars, I think there's eight of us and three of them are American. I'm Canadian. One is Icelandic, the other one is from Sweden, the other one's from London. It's fun that we all are still texting and even with different time zones and stuff. I think it just shows that we all really love each other. And, of course, Jason [Momoa]'s so busy. Alfre [Woodard] is even busier. So Alfre had us all over for a gumbo night. She's promoting her movie Clemency as well, so she's been so, so crazy busy, but she's really good too at picking up the phone or texting back. Everyone's really great.
I love work talk. I feel bad for all of our partners and stuff when they have to be around when we're all talking about work. But it's just such fun. It's cathartic in a way when you go through something like that with someone especially on See because we literally were in the rain and mud for eight months straight. And we really, really took on these characters. And Jason and all of them they had to play blind, so they really were in it for that whole time. And so we became super, super close.
MC: What is your relationship to fashion? How would you describe your personal style?
NC: I feel style and fashion, even though they're so similar, they're very different. Style has always been really important to me. It's always been a really big outlet for me, creatively, just in terms of who I am as a person. I would describe my style as tomboy, relaxed, and fun.
I really like to wear fun patterns. Sometimes I describe [my look] as a mom that loves to garden. I wear a lot of overalls and stuff, but I also love to dress up and that's something that I've really started appreciating. I went to my first fashion week this year in September in New York and that was only my second time being in New York. And when my publicist pitched it to me, I didn't really understand exactly how important it would be to me. I was like, okay, it's good, I can go promote my show, it'll be fun. There'll be a lot of young people. I'll be able to meet designers. It'll be more of a fun thing. And it absolutely was fun, but I didn't expect that I would feel so inspired by fashion. Because fashion always felt like something that wasn't a part of me. I always was like, Oh, I love clothes. If I saw something that I thought was cool, it was easier to get it from the thrift store or make it for myself.
But going there and meeting designers and wearing their clothes and understanding the story of the clothes and feeling how beautiful the materials were and how great they felt to wear. And just knowing that it's not just fast fashion, it's not something that you can pick up from H&M and just wear it because it looks cool and is trendy. It's actually has a history or it's coming from the heart of someone. I feel that inspired me in ways that I didn't expect before.
[Fashion Week] felt like the energy you feel at a concert where everyone is into it and feeling inspired and excited. It was really cool. So that's my relationship. I feel like such a novice in this world, but I also feel like I've been welcomed pretty kindly so far. And that has given me the confidence to express myself more and more with what I wear and feel I can really be myself and put my own twist on things. I tell my stylist Penny I'm like, 'I want to funk this up a bit just by doing a mixed pattern or adding a bright color or something like that.' I really like to do that stuff.
So I feel if I had gone in and I felt the fashion people were how I expected them to be from watching The Devil Wears Prada, then I would be like, 'Oh, I have to only wear black and look super chic and very clean and classic.' But I feel we're in a time right now where individuality is so important especially in fashion. People like Luka Sabbat and Ezra Miller and Zoe Kravitz are so celebrated in fashion because they're so themselves. That's my rant about fashion.
MC: What about your red carpet looks? What do you look for when you're putting something like a premiere outfit together?
NC: I always like to make sure that I feel I'm being myself. But I also like to look very polished. Even if I'm wearing something that's oversized, which I do like to do a lot, I like to make sure that it looks very clean. I really like to look, I mean, I know this is such a general word, but I really like to look cool. I think the number one thing that I look for in terms of my carpet looks is not looking like I'm trying too hard. So whether that translates with makeup and hair or maybe a shoe. If I feel like I'm wearing a dress that's very whimsical or quirky, then I'll funk it up with a cool boot.
I feel ‘effortless’ is the right word, but also me. And the thing is that I change how I feel even from week to week. Sometimes I want to be more girly. Sometimes I want to wear menswear. So I'm all over the map.
MC: So then what do you wear on the couch?
NC: I'm not really a leggings girl, which is interesting because Lululemon was founded in Vancouver. Everyone wears leggings there. But I wear sweatpants or sweat shorts. I love sweat shorts. MC: Do you cut them yourself or you buy them as a sweat short? NC: Sometimes. If I don't like the way a sweatpant falls then I'll cut it into a sweat short. I think a really cute loungy outfit is sweat shorts and either a crop top or a baggy tee like rock tee or something and then really tall scrunchie or warm socks. I feel like that's always really cute especially in LA because you don't always need sweatpants.
MC: In terms of couch activities, what are you watching and reading right now?
NC: I right now am reading Jia Tolentino's book—have you read Trick Mirror? It just came out in August. It's so good. I'm almost done. It's a collection of essays that she writes about her own self-delusions, but they're very common self-delusions that we all have. So she basically dissects those. She has one about the internet and how often we use social media and how it's changed from since it started until now. And then she has another one about how she was on a reality TV show when she was a teenager and how it's affected her whole life. And then she has another one that's about how female characters have been represented in books from the beginning up until now. So I've been reading that.
What else? What am I watching? I'm watching The Morning Show, of course. I started watching Reprisal on Hulu. It's this new show starring Abigail Spencer and it's really, really interesting. I haven't figured it out yet. I'm still very confused, but it's pretty cool so far.
MC: What are you looking to do next? I know you're about to film See season two, but what else would you like to do?
NC: I'm really open. I feel very bright about the future. I think because I have the job security from See, I can be more picky about the projects that I choose. I would love to do a biopic. I would love to do something that was based on real-life because I do so much sci-fi. And I would totally do another sci-fi project because I loved it, but I would love to do something that was really grounded, that was historical almost. I think that's what I've been gearing towards more. I read Assata Shakur's book and stuff like that I feel is definitely what I get really excited about—if an audition comes through that's like that. So I think that's what I want to do next.
MC: Is there a dream role that you'd like to play?
NC: I don't know. I think about that question so much because I feel like the dream role would be [a project that is] fun to do and a good experience, but then is also very creatively fulfilling. I don't know if it's a specific role yet, but I think about it a lot what I want to do. Because a script comes through and I read it, and we're in such a sensitive time right now. And so I find especially in the last year I've been overly, overly critical of scripts. Not in terms of the writing because I'm not a writer, but just in terms of how characters are portrayed or just sensitivity to human beings. And if they're being portrayed as a caricature or if they're perpetuating a stereotype. Or, if they're really a full rounded person. And I think I need to check myself with that because a lot of stuff ends up coming to life once an actor does it.
But that's what I loved about See so much. I really feel Haniwa is so complex and not in a typical complex woman way. She just is. She is so clearly trying to do what's right and just can't get it right. And she is 18 years old and she has the weight of the world on her shoulder. She feels so much pressure to be this person that she's imagined in her head and she just can't get it right. She just can't get it right. But I feel like that's all of us.
Nesta wears looks from the Chanel Fall-Winter 2019 collection. Available at select CHANEL Boutiques Nationwide. For more information, please call (800) 550 0005.
Sally is the Editor in Chief of Marie Claire where she oversees coverage of all the things the Marie Claire reader wants to know about, including politics, beauty, fashion, and celebs. She came to Marie Claire from ELLE.com, where she was the Executive Editor. Before that, Sally was at NYMag.com's the Cut and graduated with an English major from Boston College. Her favorite Harry Potter is 'Order of the Phoenix.'
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