Cooper Sutton, who now lives in Manhattan, New York, recalls his involvement in the Church project launched last year
In late 2016, BYU acting alum Cooper Sutton received a call from the casting office after a referral from his professors to participate in the upcoming Book of Mormon videos. After the casting process, Sutton was cast as Sam, the son of Lehi. He joined more than 100 BYU students and alumni who brought the beloved Book of Mormon stories to life.
“I initially thought it was a mistake, since I envisioned Lehi’s sons as older and massive, but I sent in a tape, which led to a couple of in-person auditions, and was eventually offered the role,” Sutton
To prepare for his role and get into character, Sutton received guidance from seminary and institute teachers, as well as several general authorities who were able to meet with the cast and provide additional insight into the characters.
“Sam isn’t mentioned very frequently, but it was exciting to me to see that from only a few verses, you can still get a pretty good idea of who he was and what he believed,” Sutton said. “My favorite part about him is his willingness to believe and support his younger brother, even if it meant less attention to himself.”
The filming process was rigorous, with long days of shooting. The first day of filming began at 1 a.m., and one shoot even lasted for an entire 24 hours.
“Through it all, we were very well taken care of and I really enjoyed the entire experience,” Sutton said. “Any time on or off set I was surrounded by the best people, and it made the work extremely easy.”
Sutton’s favorite part of the experience was spending time with the talented cast and crew and forming genuine friendships. He was able to travel with the actors who played Nephi, Laman and Lemuel, and even participate in setting up for some of the scenes.
“I had a ton of time to talk and get to know everybody, which can be rare on shorter projects,” Sutton said. “I had a lot of laughs and made many lifelong friends.”
Sutton, who graduated in 2018 with a BFA in acting, credits his time at BYU as critical to his success in this role. The rigor of his program helped him prepare for the intensity of the filming process.
“There was a point [when I was at BYU] when I would be filming two or three TMA 285 projects a week during school, which was all outside of my normal acting courses,” he said. “That amount of time spent memorizing and working with cameras and scripts was an incredible whirlwind of learning.”
When asked what advice he would give to current or aspiring acting students, Sutton explained the importance of exploring what you really love.
“Get a taste of all the various forms of acting, from Shakespeare and musicals to film and voiceover, but don’t be afraid to spit out what tastes bad,” he said. “What will make you happier: getting a perfect grade in your classical acting class, or booking a commercial through your agent? Spend your time and energy on what will benefit you and your career the most, all while being honest and keeping your commitments.”
All of the videos in the new Book of Mormon Videos series can be found in the Gospel Library app, the Gospel Library section of ChurchofJesusChrist.org and on the Book of Mormon Videos YouTube channel.