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Magician Ali Cook turns spy for Noel Clarke’s The Anomaly

PUBLISHED: 06:51 10 July 2014

Ali Cook, starring in The Anomaly

Ali Cook, starring in The Anomaly

Archant

‘I never set out to do any acting at all, but it kind of came my way really and now I think I like it more than magic.” Ali Cook, who made it onto our TV screens as a critically acclaimed magician and comedian, is starring in a new summer thriller The Anomaly, directed by and starring Noel Clarke.

Originally from Harrogate, in Yorkshire, the 32-year-old moved to Camden 10 years ago as an established magician looking for new work. He fell into stand-up comedy after meeting fellow comic magician Jerry Sadowitz, who got Cook involved in sketch shows.

“You put yourself in a position where you have to sink or swim. The show with Jerry was a sketch show, so I had to learn a load of characters very fast and had to learn how to do it, there wasn’t anything to it. Then you get better, you get better by failing a lot, that’s my theory.”

Keen to explore improvisation and comedy, he went to America and enrolled at Second City in Chicago, where he also signed up for writing courses.

To date, Cook has written and starred in seven series for ITV, Channel 4 (Dirty Tricks), Channel 5 and Sky 1 (Secret World of Magic) as well as producing his own short film, The Enchanter: The Crime Fighting Magician, in 2007.

Cook had already starred in “heist movie” Get Lucky and Outside Bet with Bob Hoskins before landing the part of Agent Travis in sci-fi thriller The Anomaly, a British film backed by Universal.

It tells the story of an ex-soldier (Clarke) who wakes up in the back of a van but has only nine minutes and 47 seconds to decipher who and where he is before his life is replaced, over and over again.

“Everyone had to do American accents – nearly all the actors were American, so I dropped a few Yorkshire vowels in there to refine them. I kept going ‘ey up’.

“They’ve presold the whole world with that film – it might even be in Botswana, or wherever. I might be able to go and do a magic show, do a world tour – remember me? I’m the secret service agent – no, it’s a great thing,” he concedes, laughing unable to keep the jokes out of his conversation, a hint at his success as a stage performer.

Enjoyment

His skills, he says, are interchangeable and he enjoys them all. “I certainly enjoy performing live and touring around. There’s something about that you can’t get from somewhere else. It’s different from doing a play because you are talking directly to an audience with a show you’ve written yourself. But I also imagine there’ll come a point when I’ve done so much touring around that working on film production would be a great thing to do more of as well.”

Now living in Belsize Park with his partner and two daughters, aged five and two, he continues to keep a hand with his magic. “I quite often perform new tricks on them because no-one else will watch,” he laughs, before adding “and they can’t get away!”

Nathalie Raffray

The Anomaly is out now.

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