22 July 2024

First Cow’s John Magaro on taking acting risks – and frontier cookery

At first glance, actor John Magaro’s face seems familiar, but you might not be able to place it. Think supporting roles in Sylvie’s Love and The Big Short or on TV in Orange Is The New Black and The Umbrella Academy. They’re just a few on a long list but, in Kelly Reichardt’s First Cow, he steps into the spotlight, playing the lead in the director’s latest offering of Americana, this time set in the 1820s.

Magaro plays Cookie, a quiet, cautious man working his way across the country as a cook, but a chance meeting with Chinese immigrant King-Lu (Orion Lee) leads to friendship and a business partnership, based on Cookie’s skills and one other essential ingredient – the milk produced by the only cow in the area. Except they’re not paying for it.

Talking to The People’s Movies’ Freda Cooper, he admits he’s more than happy to be considered a character actor. He’d like to play lead roles a little more often, but enjoys how supporting actors “get to take the most risks” because they “don’t have the weight of the entire film on their shoulders.”

As part of his research for the role, he tried his hand at the frontier style of cookery, with help from some special cookery books sent to him by Kelly Reichardt – and that included making the oily cakes and clafoutis which feature in the film. He recalls that the oily cakes – essentially doughnuts – went down well with the members of the cast that had to eat them. “The fresh ones were pretty delicious!”

First Cow is released in cinemas on 28th May |  Read our review here


Discover more from

Subscribe to get the latest posts sent to your email.

Did you enjoy? Agree Or Disagree? Leave A Comment

Discover more from

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading