Intensities in Ten Suburbs

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That Guy Salute: Rory Cochrane

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on July 26, 2007

“THAT’S what I”m talkin’ about, man, yeah!”

I like it when the roles actors pick over the course of the career sort of spell out a potential non-Hollywood alternate-universe narrative for their lives. The definitive example of this is with the career of John Cusack. He started out a confused teenager, unsure of what he wanted to do with his life (Better Off Dead, Say Anything), then once he got out of college, he tried a variety of diverse careers, like theater writing (Bullets Over Broadway), puppeteering (Being John Malkovich) and even professional killing (Grosse Point Blanke) but found satisfaction in none. Finally, he decided to buckle down and settle into a more ambitious job that actually satisfied his need to be a productive member of society (High Fidelity). Now, his only problem is finding a life companion to match (Serendipity, Must Love Dogs).

That’s why I was so glad to see that Rory Cochrane had finally found his place in life. When we first met him, he seemed to be enjoying himself all right, but it was more due to the truly superhuman amounts of pot he smoked as Ron Slater (Ron? Did they ever actually mention that in the movie?) in Dazed and Confused than any true direction in life. He was happy, sure, and he was certainly excited to go to college (due to the copious amounts of girls that, unlike the girls at Lee High School, were gonna finally start putting out), but he was probably too lazy to fill out the complex applications for the more prestigious schools, and most likely ended up going to some nearby community college, majoring in English or Communications.

When we next saw Rory two years later, as Lucas in Empire Records, he had grown up a fair amount. He had cut his hair, swapped out his weed-endorsing t-shirts for some dignified black turtlenecks, and adopted a far more philosophical, far less aggressive approach to life. Clearly, much of this new intellectualism was still pot-fuelled, but career-wise, it was definitely a step in the right direction. However, Cochrane still had a long way to go towards adulthood–he was being too irresponsible, taking too many chances, making poor decisions like gambling (and losing) his boss’s business savings away in Atlantic City, and then not bothering to apologize or even cover up for it. Things turned out OK–The Man was damned, and The Empire was saved–but if he hoped to make it in the real world, Rory had much maturing to do.

We didn’t hear from him for a while after that–most likely while he was out travelling the world, or finding himself, or working at a local fast food chain or something–but a few years ago he returned, well-dressed and clear-eyed, as detective Tim “Speed” Speedle on CSI: Miami. As one of Horatio Caine’s best and brightest, it looked like Cochrane had finally put his intellectual creativity to good use, no longer wasting it on theories about George Washington’s toking habits or ways to hook up his romantically estranged co-workers. He had finally found his place in life.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite to be. Cochrane’s old habits poked up again, as he quit the show and his character was killed off, finding TV’s shooting schedule too strenuous for his liking. When we last saw him, in Richard Linklater’s A Scanner Darkly, he was a drug-addled, unemployed, suicidal derilect, a half-step away from absolute depravity. Apparently he wasn’t quite ready for the working world quite yet, and his attempting to put on a brave face and pretend like he was a regular 9 to 5 guy nearly killed him.

But I wouldn’t count Rory Cochrane out of it just yet. Sure, he’s in a rough patch right now, but I know he’ll bounce back–maybe a couple puffs to put him back at ease, and he’ll be as ponderous and delightful as ever. He’s gonna make it after all–hell, if John Cusack could do it, anyone can.

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7 Responses to “That Guy Salute: Rory Cochrane”

  1. Scott said

    Man, I didn’t know Slater was Lucas in Empire Records.

    that makes me kind of sad. Empire Records is one of the shittiest movies of all time.

  2. Andrew Unterberger said

    yeah, amazing, isn’t it? Super-revelation when I found out for the first time.

    Anyway, I don’t really understand the amazing hate some people have for Empire Records–even if you didn’t grow up watching it like I did, it’s harmless enough teen fluff (and has about the most 90s soundtrack imaginable, which of course I mean as a compliment). Bad memory associations with an ex-girlfriend or something?

  3. Colette said

    hey I remember Rory Cochrane..wasn’t he is CSI? …i think he was. But he left the show after season 2 . I think i’m not sure. I liked him on CSI, playing that more mysterious investigator. They never really talked about him on the show that much about what he was like.

    After he left CSI for a try at the big screen..you never really heard of him again that much.

    I’d like to see more of him in movies…if he didn’t get killed off the show i wish he could come back to CSI….but if he did he’d have to rise from the dead lol and the show would become more like ghost whisperer. lol

  4. Colette said

    Oh yea my bad he was in CSI: Miami…is what i ment. I actually like CSI : Miami better than CSI.

  5. Scott said

    Naw, man.

    I watched it for the first time last fall, when 10 people at school forced me too. (“It’s my favorite movie!” “It’s soooo good!”)

    I think most of my hatred stemmed from how all of these kids had my dream job (working at a sweet record store) and they were all COMPLETE IMBECILES.

    Plus, if I have to listen to Liv Tyler and Renee Zellweger for too long, my brain starts to melt.

  6. I gotta admit, I don’t love that movie either. But I should watch it again. And it blows my mind that Cochrane was Lucas.

  7. […] exactly done too much to enliven it, but it’s always nice to see one of the 90s’ most underappreciated zeitgeist contributors find work. And as an unreserved adult now, too. Good for […]

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