For a gay actor, Tanner Cohen is not afraid of being type-cast. While many publicly out actors avoid taking roles as gay characters, Cohen embraces them.
“It’s important to me to play gay roles,” Cohen explains in an interview ahead of an Israel visit for Tel Aviv’s 9th TLVFest. “It’s about time that complex, dynamic, and sexy gay roles are written for young people and I’m thrilled to get to play them. Being gay isn’t really a ‘type,’ so I’m not afraid that being cast as gay characters will pigeonhole me.”
Cohen has played Tad Becker in the soap “As the World Turns,” took the lead role in the made-for-tv movie “Were the World Mine” that premiered on the gay channel LOGO last year, and recently took part in the premiere episode of the most talked about HBO “gay” TV show “Looking.”
Now he’s promoting his latest movie, “Getting Go, the Go Doc Project” in LGBT film festivals around the world. A Wider Bridge, a pro-Israel organization that builds LGBT connections with Israel, has flown him to Tel Aviv for the TLVFest to give Cohen an opportunity to discuss the film in Israel.
“I was raised in a Reform home but going to synagogue was a fairly large part of our lives,” Cohen says. “I was bar-mitzvah’d, etc. and really enjoyed being part of the community at Temple.
“Today, Judaism plays a smaller part in my life but I still identify as a Jew. The cultural events, holidays, and (very importantly) meals are still a big part of my life. I know that if I have children, I’d like them to grow up with the Jewish traditions and lessons that I got to experience and enjoy.”
Cohen has visited Israel once before. “But I was 12 and I was running around with my family like chickens with our heads cut off trying to pack in as much tourism as possible,” he laughs and says he looks forward to seeing the country with “new eyes.”
“I hear amazing things about Tel Aviv on a regular basis from friends who have been more recently. I’m really looking forward to experiencing gay Tel Aviv as well,” says Cohen
When asked what he thinks about Israeli guys, Cohen quips, “Can’t say I’ve ever met one I didn’t like.”
“The Go Doc Project” is about a shy college grad who decides to shoot a documentary about NYC nightlife to meet the go-go guy he’s cyber-obsessed with. Amazingly, most of the film was shot with iPhone cameras.
“I had worked with Cory [Krueckeberg, the writer and director] and Tom [Gustafson, producer of the film and extras casting supervisor of blockbusters including 'Man of Steel' and 'The Dark Knight'] previously on ‘Were The World Mine’ in 2007, so when Cory told me about the idea and what they were looking for for the role of Doc, I think I basically just asked if I could come in and read for the part.”
‘I loved the idea of making a film that anyone could make’
Cohen says he was intrigued by the concept and feels lucky it all worked out.
“I loved the idea of making a film that anyone could make. Using iPhones, webcams, and computers to shoot it sounded very cool to me. It’s hard to say what was scripted and what wasn’t, because the film evolved so much as we shot it, but I guess I’d say a third of the material that ended up in the final cut was improvised. The entire story was written before we started, though.”
Cohen’s brother is also an actor, who, coincidentally, starred as well in “As the World Turns”
“David’s acting career began long before mine, as he’s about six years older than I am,” says Cohen. “For the soap opera that we were both on, I think I was cast first and then he joined in. Total coincidence. It was a lot of fun.”