October 06, 2010
John B. D. Potter '11
Crazy Heart, a musical-drama film, has been making headlines in recent months. The movie has garnered praise from both audiences and critics. Since its release, the film has gone on to win two Academy Awards, as well as two Golden Globes.
Interestingly, the man behind the film is an alumnus of Hampden-Sydney, Mr. Scott Cooper '92. Cooper not only directed the film, but also wrote the script and served as the one of the movie's producers.
During this year's Family Weekend, Hampden-Sydney proudly welcomed Cooper to campus. On the evening of Friday, September 17, he held a screening of Crazy Heart in Johns Auditorium and provided the audience with insightful commentary. Before speaking about the film, Cooper kindly gave some of his time for a personal interview.
During the interview, Mr. Cooper explained what an enormous influence Hampden-Sydney had on him. The education he received at Hampden-Sydney has served as a "bedrock foundation" for everything he has done in film. Whether shooting film frames, writing a clear and concise script, or working within a movie's budget, Cooper has continuously drawn upon ideas that he was first exposed to classes at Hampden-Sydney, classes such as Art History, Rhetoric, and Economics. Moreover, Cooper cited the advantages of liberal arts curriculum. "A liberal arts education turns you into a Renaissance Man," he said, "by giving you a wide breath of knowledge and fostering critical thinking." Regardless of what career(s) an alumnus pursues, Cooper stressed that "Hampden-Sydney sends its graduates out into the world with a strong sense of self-confidence." "If college graduates don't have that [sense of confidence], they may find themselves struggling," he added.
Cooper also spoke to the great sense of community that exists on the Hill. "At H-SC, you can't help but be involved in the community," he declared. During his time at Sydney, Cooper was a member of SAE Fraternity and actively participated in college life. Unsurprisingly, he had unforgettable experiences and forged lasting friendships with students and faculty alike. For instance, Cooper has fond memories of individuals like Dr. Ken Townsend (Economics) (at left with wife Patricia), Dr. Ron Heinemann (History), Dr. John Brinkley (Classics), and Dr. Alan Farrell (Modern Languages), and Ms. Anita Garland (Dean of Admissions). Looking back, Cooper considers himself fortunate to have been a part of such a special community. Indeed, he thinks that "a young man who comes here should count himself lucky."
In closing, Cooper talked about one of the most important things he learned at Hampden-Sydney -- passion for what you do. When he left H-SC, Cooper had developed a passion for art and film. However, his initial goal was not to become a director. Instead, he wanted to become an actor. Through acting, he got to know Robert Duvall and Sean Penn, two men who quickly became his mentors. Cooper aspired to their level of passion and decided to become a director, which he did, with resounding success. "Whatever you do, do it with passion," he said, "because passion won't let you down."
Suffice to say, Scott Cooper is testament to the fact that "you can do anything with a degree from Hampden-Sydney College."