For the sake of his art, the muscular, 6-foot-4-inch 4 Keith Hamilton Cobb is willing
to cut the soft dreadlocks that hang past his shoulders. Fortunately, he
won't have to for his role as Aufidius, battlefield rival of the title
character in "Coriolanus," opening Sunday at the Shakespeare Theatre.
Relaxing in an apartment near the theater last week, Cobb sipped a protein
drink (orange juice, protein powder, strawberries, bananas) and talked of
his life, his acting and his hair. This is an actor who has set up a Web
site for his
fans. They can see pictures tracing his career and the evolution of his do.
They can read his New Age musings on acting and life. Cobb is also
featured, he told Backstage, in the coffee-table book "Dreads," which
spotlights dreadlocked people from around the world.
The actor, who is in his early thirties and was raised in Tarrytown, N.Y.,
played Tybalt in "Romeo and Juliet" and Octavius in "Julius Caesar" at the
Shakespeare Theatre during the 1993-94 season. Then he muted his classical
chops in favor of fluttering hearts as Noah Keefer on daytime TV's "All My
"Making the choice to do daytime was really a necessity. They offered me a
lot of money. This may launch me into a Hollywood career, which may allow
me to do the roles I want to do," he said.
"Coriolanus" is his first big-stage production since that short season at
the Shakespeare Theatre. Of Volscian general Aufidius and his rival, Roman
general Coriolanus, Cobb quoted a line from the film "The Talented Mr.
Ripley": "Why is it when men play, they always play at killing each other?"
He sees the two generals as macho playmates whose competition and mutual
admiration smolders into homoerotic lust. In fact, their climactic
confrontation "becomes this very close, hand-to-hand, animal sort of
paroxysm; hugely martial."
After Washington, Cobb will go to Vancouver, B.C., to play a lead role in a
new syndicated sci-fi series, "Andromeda," starring Kevin Sorbo of
television's "Hercules." Cobb's genetically engineered character is "a
future superhuman being who looks like me," he said, expressing pleasure at
the progress implicit in casting an African American as the perfect human.