This is a repost of an interview I posted a few years back. Sadly, the original post vanished! So here it is again.
For several years, I was fortunate enough to interview Matt Cohen at Creation’s Salute to Supernatural Convention in Vancouver. It’s not always easy to get an interview with past cast members but Matt seems to always make time for fans.
You may know Matt from his brief stint on “Supernatural” as a young version of the grizzled paranormal hunter, John Winchester. I first became acquainted with Matt as Aiden on the edgy teen drama “South of Nowhere“. S.O.N. is where Matt met Mandy, his wife; It seems that some things really are meant to be.
This year, Matt and I exchanged a few emails and he texted me when he had time for us to catch up. I set my iPhone to record and Matt talked for twenty or so minutes before laughing about how long he’d “rambled on”. It was great.
The one thing that Matt said during the interview that really stuck in my mind was that people needed to “Just live.”
You see, one of the things that I’ve learned from Matt is that life is a bit of a carnival ride and we all need to just hang on and see what comes our way. “Just live.”
Matt was heading off to Karaoke later in the evening so I didn’t take up too much of his time. Once I was outside the hotel and getting some fresh air, I checked my phone only to find that the recording of Matt’s interview was gone.
That’s got to be an interviewer’s worst nightmare. I raced back to my own hotel room and tried everything to recover the file from wherever it had gone. But – there was nothing that would help.
It was about that time I remembered Matt’s words. I thought about how he had said that things just happen and, sometimes, you have to just go with the flow. “Just live.”
I emailed Matt. “So, Matt. I think you will find this amusing given our conversation today…” I explained what had happened to my phone and asked Matt if he trusted me to write something a bit different. Maybe something like “What I’ve Learned From Matt Cohen.”
His reply? “Sounds great!”
What have I learned from Matt Cohen? To be honest, a lot.
Don’t just say it; do it.
Matt doesn’t just toss out positivity as a way of winning people over. He believes the things he tells people. Matt honestly believes that we can make the world a better place with kindness, a little time, and commitment.
I think I believe him because I’ve seen this in action. One year at the Vancouver convention, Matt bought dinner for some broke fans who had spent the last of their money on bus tickets to travel for hours across Canada to the convention. I met one of the women who did all that traveling and then later found her Tumblr. She’s still touched by that kindness. It meant something to her.
Life’s too short to worry about every little thing
Matt really hit a chord with me this year. He spoke about how we all spend so much time and energy worrying about things like money, clothes, and other superficial things when there are so many tragic things going on in the world. What I took away from that part of our discussion was that it is important to be aware. Make sure you know what matters in the big scheme of things. And, perhaps more importantly, know what doesn’t matter.
Notice and enjoy what’s around you
Each time I’ve met up with Matt he has noticed things around him that I haven’t. He stopped once in the middle of our interview to tell me to look out the hotel room window. “The sky is amazing,” he told me.
At another interview, Matt paused for a few moments to tell one of the convention staff how great she was to work with. He said that she nearly always had a smile on her face.
Last month, Matt took the time to tell me how much he admires some of his fellow convention guests. He spoke about Richard Speight Jr. and how great it was to work with him and to have become his friend. He spoke about how much he learned from Richard and Rob, from the way they worked. We talked briefly about our mutual friend, Kim Rhodes, and Matt told me what an amazing spirit he thought she had.
He notices things.
Twice now, Matt has talked at length about smiling. He sits back in his chair, relaxed, laid back and passes on the benefits of smiling. There have been studies on it, Matt assured me. (And there are studies. Matt made me curious enough that I did some investigating.) The notion that putting a smile on your face even when you don’t feel it can make you feel better seems to fascinate Matt. He always repeats it, as one does with information that must be passed on. Then he will flash a smile.
A hug can communicate a lot
In 2012 I attended the cocktail party at the Supernatural Convention with some dear friends. At these parties the guests rotate from table to table and spend two minutes interacting with fans; not a second more if their handler can manage it.
When Matt bounded over to our table he announced that two minutes really wasn’t enough time to talk properly so he was going to just hug us all. It was the best encounter we had with a celebrity that evening.
When people ask me what Matt Cohen is like one of my favorite stories to share is about Johnny Depp.
The first time I interviewed Matt he yanked the door open and told me to come in. His hair was disheveled, he had no shirt on and he hadn’t even had time to unpack or shower.
As he ushered me into the room and proceeded to tell me that he’d seen an interview with Johnny Depp that he thought was great. It seems that Depp wasn’t ready for the interviewer. He wasn’t properly dressed, he had a drink, he was a bit of a mess. But, he simply told the interviewer they’d have to take him as he was. So – “This is me as I really am,” Matt told me with a tired grin.
He doesn’t put on airs; he is who he is.
One of my friends is a convention volunteer. One day we were discussing some of the great photo ops that were taken at the convention. There were goofy faces, silly poses and Matt was dressed as a cheerleader. I said something like “I can’t believe he did that” and my friend answered that he thought Matt would do most anything for fans.
Matt has told me himself on numerous occasion how great the fans of “Supernatural” and “South of Nowhere” are. Once, I asked Matt how long he would continue to do the convention circuit and without the slightest hesitation he said, “As long as the fans want me, I’ll be here.”
There’s probably more. Whenever I have the chance to speak with Matt I find myself pondering his ideas for days. He might feel like he is rambling when he talks about life and how we just have to get out and live it and not let it pass us by. But those words make a difference. They made a difference to me.
Matt, thank you for being one of the most genuine, caring and gracious people I have ever met. Thanks for telling me to put a smile on my face, for telling me to look at the view and yes, Matt. Thank you for dressing as a cheerleader to co-host karaoke.
You’re one in a million.