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Friday, Jun 24, 2022

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As a top film executive for more than 10 years, Robert Cooper played key supporting roles in any number of releases. Now he wants to take the lead.

Last month, Cooper left his position as head of production at DreamWorks SKG to launch Robert Cooper Productions. Based in Santa Monica, the firm will produce feature films, some of which were initiated during Cooper’s two years at DreamWorks.

“I wanted to create an independent company that can have a certain amount of autonomy,” says the 54-year-old Cooper. “You have to be willing to risk financing (with) your own money and others’ money. I want responsibility, and I want to be accountable. You have that when you’re the owner.”

While at DreamWorks, Cooper oversaw production of several hit films, including “As Good As It Gets,” starring Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt, and “The Mask of Zorro.”

In a move that raised some Hollywood eyebrows, DreamWorks co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg has temporarily replaced Cooper as head of production.

Cooper lauds Katzenberg’s decision. “I think what’s great is, you have a man in my job with tremendous authority,” he says.

Before joining DreamWorks, Cooper served for a year as president of Tri-Star Pictures. Before that, he was president of HBO Pictures from 1988 to 1995.

Born and raised in Montreal, he came to Los Angeles when he was 19. He studied acting at the Pasadena Playhouse but returned to Montreal after just six months.

“My parents told me, ‘You don’t want to be an actor, you need security,’ so I studied law. I was surprised how much I liked it,” he says.

Cooper graduated from McGill University in Montreal with a bachelor’s degree in civil law and a master’s in sociology.

From 1972 to 1974, he was special counsel for a major organized crime probe and went on to host the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.’s investigative journalism series “Ombudsman” for seven years. He moved back to L.A. in 1984.

Jolie Gorchov

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