Over the past decade, Olivia Cooke has risen from a notable up-and-comer in the indie film scene to a bona fide star.
Blasting off from small beginnings and recently landing roles in several blockbuster films and television series, Olivia Cooke has proven herself as more than a one-trick pony.
While her charming and humble personality makes her a relatable star across all of her performances, it’s clear that Olivia Cooke has just as much skill as her more experienced peers.
Thanks to her stunning appearances in major projects like HBO’s House of the Dragon, Olivia Cooke has been rapidly gaining fans and followers in recent years. However, her excellence on screen has been apparent since the very start.
As this rising star sits on the cusp of A-list status, let’s take a closer look at Olivia Cooke’s road to stardom, as well as her most beloved roles so far.
Before She Was a Star
Olivia Cooke was born in the sizable English town of Oldham, Greater Manchester, on December 27, 1993.
For most of her life, she lived with her mother and her sister, as her parents got divorced in her early childhood. However, Cooke found a creative outlet in ballet and acting at eight years old while attending a local drama club at Oldham Theatre Workshop.
Olivia Cooke was born on December 27, 1993 and eventually found her creative outlet at 8 years old in ballet and acting (Credit: PA Images / INSTARimages / Cover Images)
There, she caught the attention of casting director Beverley Keogh, who helped her establish her career with early roles. Although she attended elementary school and later studied drama at Oldham Sixth Form College, she eventually dropped out of school to pursue her acting career.
With Beverley Keogh’s help, Cooke started her career by appearing in a few small commercial projects, including a music video for the band One Direction.
In 2012, she landed roles in several BBC mini-series, including the drama Blackout and a supernatural thriller, The Secret of Crickley Hall.
Then, in 2013, Cooke nabbed her first major television role on the American thriller series Bates Motel, and her career exploded from there.
Olivia Cooke’s acting career exploded after nabbing her first major television role on Bates Motel, and soon she started getting bigger roles and eventually breaking into the mainstream (Credit: PA Images / INSTARimages)
After her feature film debut in the 2014 film The Quiet Ones, Olivia Cooke gained more traction each year, tackling bigger roles in more expensive productions. Four years later, she had her mainstream breakthrough after starring in the Steven Spielberg sci-fi film, Ready Player One.
Nowadays, Olivia Cooke lives in London and stays mostly under the radar. Although unconfirmed, she seems to be enjoying a relationship with the Welsh actor Jacob Ifan.
Top 5 Powerful Performances That Showcase Olivia Cooke’s Acting Prowess
The top 5 Olivia Cooke movies and television shows are ranked by their Critics Score on Rotten Tomatoes.
This score is an aggregate of hundreds of reviews from around the world, including reviews by professional critics, journalists, bloggers, and more.
Olivia Cooke’s movies and television shows on this top 5 list are ranked according to their Critics Score as seen on Rotten Tomatoes (Credit: Dutch Press Photo / Cover Images)
5. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (2015) – 81% Score
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is a coming-of-age comedy and drama directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon and based on the novel by Jesse Andrews.
Fusing dark humor with tear-jerking emotion, the film follows high school student Greg (Thomas Mann), who finds an unlikely friendship with his terminally ill classmate, Rachel.
Olivia Cooke as Rachel Kushner, Thomas Mann as Greg Gaines, and RJ Cyler as Earl Jackson in the 2015 American comedy-drama film Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures)
At 21 years old, Olivia Cooke stunned audiences with an incredibly emotional turn as Rachel, who originally befriends Greg at the request of her mother. Cooke’s empathetic yet feisty attitude was a perfect fit for the character, and her fantastic performance helped establish her reputation as a powerhouse actress early in her career.
4. Thoroughbreds (2017) – 87% Score
Written and directed by Cory Finley, Thoroughbreds is a thriller that stars Anya Taylor-Joy and Olivia Cooke as two teenagers who form a sinister friendship with deadly consequences.
In the film, the popular high-schooler Lily (Anya Taylor-Joy) rekindles an old friendship with her classmate Amanda (Olivia Cooke), and they plan to murder Lily’s father.
Anya Taylor-Joy as Lily and Olivia Cooke as Amanda in the 2017 American dark comedy thriller film Thoroughbreds (Credit: Focus Features)
Cooke’s history with traditional theater came in handy, as Thoroughbreds was initially written as a stage play with an emphasis on grounded performances and palpable chemistry.
Unsurprisingly, the film was a hit with critics, and both Olivia Cooke and Anya Taylor-Joy received several acting award nominations for their hard work.
3. Bates Motel (2013 – 2017) – 93% Score
Serving as a prequel story to the iconic 1960 horror film Psycho, Bates Motel tells the story of how the psychopath Norman Bates (Freddie Highmore) established his disturbing origins in the eponymous motel.
Aided by his equally off-kilter mother, Norma (Vera Farmiga), Norman’s mental health quickly takes a nosedive as he embraces his violent urges.
Olivia Cooke as Emma Decody in the American psychological horror drama television series Bates Motel (Credit: A&E)
Appearing across the show’s five seasons, Olivia Cooke plays the role of Emma Decody, a shy and intelligent teenager with cystic fibrosis who becomes attracted to Norman after an encounter at school.
Cooke’s performance is even more admirable in hindsight, as the actress has since stated that she was going through severe distress during production due to overworking herself in her late teens.
2. House of the Dragon (2022) – 93% Score
Co-created by author George R. R. Martin and Ryan Condal, House of the Dragon is a prequel series to HBO’s mega-popular drama, Game of Thrones.
Set approximately 200 years before the events of Game of Thrones, the show details the rule of House Targaryen and the eventual war that removed them from the throne.
Olivia Cooke as Alicent Hightower in the American fantasy drama television series House of the Dragon (Credit: HBO)
Continuing to demonstrate excellence in her largest role to date, Olivia Cooke plays Alicent Hightower, the lifelong friend of the royal Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen (Emma D’Arcy).
Despite the increased fame that House of the Dragon has afforded her, the 29-year-old actress has chosen to avoid social media for the most part, stating that the majority of online discourse is vapid and combative.
1. Sound of Metal (2019) – 97% Score
Directed and co-written by Darius Marder, Sound of Metal is a drama film that centers on Ruben (Riz Ahmed), a heavy metal drummer who begins to lose his hearing.
Struggling with drug addiction, Ruben must find a balance between his health and his creative outlet of performing live.
Olivia Cooke as Lou in the 2019 American drama film Sound of Metal (Credit: Amazon Studios)
Teeing up yet another powerful performance, Olivia Cooke plays Lou, Ruben’s compassionate girlfriend and their band’s lead vocalist.
Once again calling back to her theatrical past, Cooke even chose to “sing” the metal songs herself, which caused her to lose her voice just a few days into production.
The dedication was worth it, though, as the role even garnered her multiple Best Supporting Actress award nominations.