Olivia Kate Cooke was born 27 December 1993 and is an English actress.
She was born in Oldham, Greater Manchester, the daughter of sales representative Lindsy Wild and retired police officer John Cooke. She has a younger sister named Eleanor. Her parents divorced when she was a child, and she and her younger sister lived with their mother. She started acting when she was eight years old at the Oldham Theatre Workshop, an after-school drama programme in her hometown.
She attended Royton and Crompton Academy and studied drama at Oldham Sixth Form College, leaving before the end of her A-levels to appear in the drama series Blackout. She starred as Maria in a college production of West Side Story, and soon landed her first and last leading role for the Oldham Theatre Workshop in Prom: The Musical, a remake of Cinderella. When she was 14, she secured her first local agent, who gained her commercial roles. In 2012, she appeared in One Direction’s “Autumn Term” tour video as a student getting a piggyback ride from Harry Styles. Although her agent discouraged her from enrolling in drama school because she was already getting acting work, she was keen on applying to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) and made it to the final round of auditions, but was not accepted.
After Cooke performed at the Oldham Theatre Workshop, Beverley Keogh, a casting director next door to her agency, secured her roles in television. Cooke starred in all three BBC mini-series productions in 2012: Blackout and The Secret of Crickley Hall. Cooke stated that she felt better suited for television than theatre, as she was embarrassed by the exaggerated gestures sometimes required for stage acting. Despite being a novice, Cooke distinguished herself among European actresses in the grueling casting process for The Quiet Ones, which opened in April 2014, two years after filming took place.
In 2012, following The Quiet Ones, Cooke acquired an agent in Los Angeles. After reading the character descriptions for A&E’s contemporary Psycho prequel Bates Motel, she sent an audition tape for the role of Emma Decody. Three weeks later, Cooke earned the part of Emma, her first American role. She was originally disappointed when the producers made Emma Mancunian, believing it was a fail-safe measure regarding her accent. However, aided by fellow English actor Freddie Highmore, who has previous experience with an American accent, Cooke has since been mistaken to be American. Cooke also contributed short videos for Emma’s fictitious blog.
Cooke’s second feature film was The Signal. In October 2014, Cooke led the cast of Ouija, a horror film based on Hasbro’s board game.
Cooke next appeared in the comedy-drama film Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. For the coming-of-age tale by Jesse Andrews, who adapted the original novel for the film, Cooke shaved off her hair to play the female lead who battles leukaemia. Also in 2015, Cooke voiced the Loch Ness Monster for an episode of Axe Cop, which was co-written by her Me and Earl and the Dying Girl co-star Nick Offerman.
Cooke played the titular character in the independent drama film Katie Says Goodbye. The film revolves around Katie, a 17-year-old waitress attempting to overcome poverty and start a new life in San Francisco by resorting to prostitution. She next starred in the film adaptation of Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golem, a gothic murder mystery. Cooke then starred in the thriller film Thoroughbreds.
Cooke starred as Art3mis in Steven Spielberg’s science fiction adventure Ready Player One, which was released in March 2018. Later that year, she appeared alongside Oscar Isaac, Olivia Wilde and Samuel L. Jackson in Dan Fogelman’s relationship drama film Life Itself, and played the lead character, Becky Sharp in the ITV production of Vanity Fair.
Cooke starred in the drama film Sound of Metal, alongside Riz Ahmed. Also in 2019, she appeared as Karla, pregnant homeless woman giving her baby up for adoption, in the Prime Video romantic comedy anthology series Modern Love.
In 2014, Cooke supported the Save the Children campaign by appearing in Bulgari advertisements. After four years in New York City, she moved to London in January 2020.