As the preening teenage reveler Costa in Project X, Oliver Cooper certainly proved adept at getting in too deep — his performance even won him two MTV Movie Award nominations. But now the 22-year-old actor will get a taste of what it really means to go too far, signing on to star opposite Justin Timberlake and Ben Affleck in the gambling thriller Runner Runner.
Timberlake plays Richie Furst, a Princeton student who gets pulled into the world of online gambling in order to help bankroll his expensive education. Cooper will play Andrew Cronin, a twentysomething Ivy League computer nerd who gets hired along with Furst to work for Ivan Block (Ben Affleck), an online gambling billionaire who works out of Costa Rica and whose business is even less legitimate than it first seems. “He’s kind of the young guy in this crazy world,” Cooper tells EW. “He really represents the innocence of someone who would get into gambling.”
The role caps off what Cooper describes as a “whirlwind” few months thanks to the success of Project X and the spotlight it’s brought to his career. One of the strangest moments, he says, was getting those MTV Movie Award nominations, for Best Comedic Performance against Jonah Hill, Zach Galifianakis, Kristen Wiig, and Melissa McCarthy, and Best On-Screen Dirtbag, opposite Bryce Dallas Howard, Jon Hamm, Jennifer Aniston, and Colin Farrell. In both categories, Cooper stands out as the only unknown actor in the bunch. “I mean, I’m still living in Encino with my aunt and four dogs, this 35-year-old lady and her three-year-old son,” he says with a laugh. “[The success] is just bizarre to me. I’m just trying to keep my head on straight.”
Production on Runner Runner is likely to start up in June.