Marlene Mc’Cohen got the acting bug at a very young age. She is known as an actress and producer, famous for Alice in Murderland, Dead Reckoning, Pretty, Captain Battle: Legacy War, and many others.
Where would we have seen you?
One fan favorite is, “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” where I guest star as a model competing for the chance to appear on Frank’s (Danny De Vito) billboard. Another film that’s getting some recognition right now is “Vertical” which just won “Best International Film” at the London Independent Film Festival, in that film, I had a lot of fun playing an eccentric Psychic named Moonshadow. I think most of my international fan base comes from some of the horror feature films I’ve done, like “Alice in Murderland”, “Aliens vs. Avatar” and “Lizzy Bordon’s Revenge”.
Two series currently gaining traction on the web are “Revelations” and “Dead Reckoning,” although they are very different, I get to work with guns in both of them, as an assassin in one and a survivor in the other.
I’m also looking forward to the upcoming release of the feature film “The Last Night Inn,” where I act opposite Johnny Williams from Goodfellas.
When did you first start acting?
In fifth grade, I moved to a new school and I was lucky to put in the class of the teacher who put on a musical every year, her name was Mrs. Elkin. Each kid got assigned different jobs in the production, and I was chosen to be one of the actresses/singers. The girl who was assigned to costume designer decided to ask me what I wanted to wear, instead of assigning me an outfit. Now at that time, that was already a dangerous thing to do because what I was going to wear to school the next day was the highlight of my evening. I spent hours designing my outfits and my main goal was for it to always be memorable. In fact, my mom had to inspect my clothes before I left for the bus stop because I was basically 10 going on 22 and although she was incredibly supportive of my eccentric style, she was also very conservative. So in order to not get in trouble, I would hide heels and jewelry in my backpack so I could glam myself up when I got to school. So as you can imagine, I was very happy to be in charge of what I was going to wear.
On the day of the show, I was so nervous right up until the moment I stepped out on to that stage. I remember rethinking coming out from behind the curtain, but the moment I did, I got lost in the character I was playing and completely forgot I was onstage. It was the best feeling I had ever experienced, it was euphoric! After the show, I was so elated that I couldn’t wait to find my mom and see what she thought, because in some way I felt like my life had changed and I wanted to see if she could see in me, what I could feel. When I finally found my parents, my performance wasn’t the first thing my mom was talking about…I found out that my mother was absolutely mortified and shocked when she saw me step out on stage because I had basically designed an outfit that resembled Olivia Newton John’s naughty side at the end of “Greece”. I think what she said in her Irish accent was, “I nearly died, when I saw ye’ and had to have me self a look around so see if anyone else was horrified.” But just when I thought the euphoria was about to be over, she told me how incredible my performance was, how much she enjoyed it and proud she was. It was that moment that I saw the power of the art and how it could influence people and from then on, that euphoria mixed with my mother’s utter shock became one official recipe for my art.
What do you love about acting?
What I personally love about acting is getting to explore the different versions of truth that belong to myself. For example, I have lived in many different countries and had a few different accents and spoken different languages, authentically. As I have adapted to each of those cultures, they became such a part of me that I realized it’s possible to make any reality a truth for yourself, which is exactly what you have to do as an actor. So just because I wasn’t born in Louisiana or Ireland that doesn’t erase the possibility that it still could have been my truth. The same goes for emotions and mental stability, you just never know what can happen and if the possibility exists in real life, than it is definitely possible to live it under imaginary circumstances. And that’s what I love exploring, every version of me that could have ever been possible and living it to the fullest. I want to live me in all different worlds. A good friend once told me that your job as an actor is to go out and live life, then come back and report what you have learned. I completely agree with that.
If you couldn’t act, what would you like to do?
My real first love is music. I was a singer long before I considered being an actress. In high school I was in a special theater program and it just seemed natural to continue on from there. So of course, if I could be anything other than an actress I would so love to be a Rock Star, Pop Star, or Opera Singer….and who knows maybe one day.
The good news is, I never lost my love for music and I’m currently working on my first original album with an incredible producer named Gemini Musiq who really understand where I want to go with my music and he is the first person I’ve worked with able to help me create it. Truthfully, music is my favorite medium because I can express so much through both the lyrics and the sound. Lyrics have always been important to me, it’s my way of making my poetry come alive. I’ve been writing poetry all my life and I think writing lyrics for singers is something I would definitely enjoy doing.
In every song I try to find one message that I wish to portray to the world. I want people to listen to my music and feel like they have changed their mind about something in a self-empowering way. I have a song called “Reignite” about haters and how they try to shut you down. It’s about the people that aren’t really happy for you, so you feel like you have to tone down your joy, around them. I want people to be inspired to find the power within them to shine as bright as they can regardless of everyone else…to blind the haters with their lights and not shy away. I hope that anyone listening to my music feel that they too can Reignite.
To listen to my EP check out: https://soundcloud.com/marlene-mccohen
Do you have a favorite type of acting? (Theater, Film, or TV)
Although it’s the type of acting I get to do the least, my favorite is theater. I love to experience a role from the beginning to the end of the story without interruption. I hope I can do more theater in the future, and honestly if that is all I did, I would be happy. My dream is to one day do Broadway.
How do you prepare for a role?
My preparation is different for every role. I love to try new things with regards to preparation, but I never hold back on figuring out the emotional life behind the character I’m playing. I find that as long as I have my emotions in the right place and a thorough back-story, everything else will flow. On top of that listening to the right music and finding the characters clothes can really make the character come alive for me. Sometimes, I hold it all in until I get the right shoes on.
What advice would you give an actor starting out?
My advice to new actors starting out is to do anything and everything you can. Meaning, unless you are uncomfortable with a role, take it. Work leads to more work. Great work ethic leads to consistent work. Even non-paid gigs lead to other work. Nowadays just because someone isn’t the director on a project you are on, doesn’t mean they’re not a director on a different project. So, be courteous to everyone. Act like there is no where else in the world you would want to be, than the set you’re on, and give it your all and before you know it you will be working all the time, even if not on big shows, you’ll still be working. Just never forget why you wanted to be an actor in the first place and…have fun!
Do you have a favorite director that you’ve worked with?
That question is really tough because I’ve been fortunate to work with a lot of great directors and I’ve learnt different things from all of them. Along the way there are a few guys that have taken me under their wing, always include me in their films and now help me with mine. These men have been very important mentors in my life. They are special to me because they do more than make roles for me, they share information with me. They are generous with their knowledge and want me to know as much as they do and for that, I will include all three of them.
Edward Plumb gave me one of my first roles in Los Angeles opposite Italian horror film star Barbara Steel (Black Sunday) in a film called “Her Morbid Desires,” also starring Tippi Hedren. Since then, Edward has included me in all of his projects and taught me so much throughout my career as an actor and now as a director. After each film, he would meet me for coffee or lunch and he always brought me a poster, magazine article or write-ups regarding the film. In fact, his film was my first IMDB credit to go up which is very exciting for an actor. He is one of the most loyal friends I have out here. Edward and I are now co-directing a feature film that will be out next year.
Stephen Savage the director of “Vertical” has also been an incredible mentor to me as a director and a very important person in my life. Stephen guided me through the post-production process of my first film “Pretty” and has been an amazing inspiration to me from the start. What I love about Stephen is that he believes in women on screen and off. His films are filled with strong female characters and heartfelt roles but so is his crew. Stephen believed in me as a director and since then, he has always encouraged me to make more films. I love that about him.
Dennis Devine is another generous soul that always includes me in his films and I love working with him. Dennis has a calming effect by nature and it is really easy to be on set with him. From Dennis I learned so much about patience with actors and now I try to implement his advice in to my own films. Dennis always jokes that he discovered me and I love it. We have worked on at least five films together and I had a blast on every single one. We start a new film called Interstellar Wars next month and I am so thankful that he is a part of the project.
Do you have a favorite actor that you’ve worked with?
I recently did a film called “The Last Night Inn” directed by Johhn Heath, where I played opposite Johnny Williams aka Johnny Roast beef, from “Goodfellas”. Not only is Johnny an amazing actor, but he is also fun to work with. I had just as much fun on set as I did in between scenes working with Johnny. Johnny has an amazing heart, I’ve seen actors get nervous around him and him completely ease their nerves with his incredible personality and comedic gifts. Just last week I directed a short called “Tommy and Rosa” written by Anthony Montes, and he came out to act in it, and when he walked in he just lit up the room. He is incredible!
Where can people keep up with what you’re doing?
I have a Facebook fan page, that I personally update with everything I do, from films to music to my vlogs. And of course I am also on Instagram and Twitter. My music can be found on SoundCloud and for updates on my home life check out my YouTube channel which features my parrots and a new show directed by Matt Prine with all the Behind the Scenes Marlene (coming out soon).
YOUTUBE CHANNEL: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQVqKlgU_BcrWl8RWuoi8ig