The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (often referred to as “the Mormon Church”) has created a series of videos about the Book of Mormon to help bring the stories and characters to life as people study the sacred volume of scripture.
In late 2016, Cooper Sutton, a Brigham Young University (BYU) acting alum who now resides in Manhattan, New York, was cast to play one of the sons of Lehi, an Israelite of the Tribe of Manasseh, and a prophet who lived in Jerusalem during the reign of king Zedekiah (approximately 600 BC). Lehi was also the father of Nephi, another prominent prophet of the Book of Mormon. Cooper plays the role of Nephi’s older brother Sam.
Cooper said, “I initially thought it was a mistake since I envisioned Lehi’s sons as older and massive.” He told LDS Living that help from seminary and institute teachers, as well as insights from General Authorities who met with the cast helped him to feel more confident in playing the role.
He said, “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 fairly good idea of who he was and what he believed. My favorite part about him is his willingness to believe and support his younger brother, even if it meant less attention to himself.”
Cooper further explained that the filming of the Book of Mormon videos often involved working long days. He mentioned that the first day of filming began at 1:00 am, and one shoot even lasted an entire 24 hours. Nevertheless, the cast was always well taken care of and he says, “Any time on or off set I was surrounded by the best people, and it made the work extremely easy.”
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. He commented, “I had a ton of time to talk and get to know everybody, which can be rare on shorter projects. I had a lot of laughs and made many lifelong friends.”
Cooper graduated from BYU in 2018 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in acting and credits his time working in front of and behind the cameras at BYU as critical to his success in playing the role of Sam. When asked what advice he would give to current or aspiring acting students, he 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 do not be afraid to spit out what tastes bad. 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.