Her given name is Jacoba Francisca Maria Smulders, but everybody calls her Cobie. Cobie’s mother and father are English and Dutch, respectively, and she was born in Vancouver, so she’s Canadian and proud of it. Perhaps her Canadian-ness has something to do with her charm: Cobie comes across as totally genuine, with little of the carefully presented glossy exterior that seems so prevalent in Hollywood.
Cobie’s birthday was April 3, 1982, which makes her 34 at present, with an interesting road already traveled and many signs that the next stretch will be even more interesting. She didn’t start out to be an actress; she hoped to become a marine biologist or a doctor. However, while she was in high school drama attracted her enough to get parts in several school plays – and the attention of a modeling agency.
Rather amazingly, she continued her education even while taking modeling jobs in Western Europe and Japan – and graduated with honors in 2000; she was even voted “most respected” by her senior year classmates. Of her early years as a model, Cobie tells stories about living with six or eight other girls in New York, stacked in bunk beds and living in “absolutely filthy” surroundings since no one cared to clean.
She wound up being the oldest (at the age of seventeen) in many cases, and serving as reluctant den-mother on many occasions. Cobie has told interviewers that modeling is definitely not the glamorous business that people who only see the final photos may think, and she decided that it was not the career she wanted. “I did it for about two years,” she said, “and then I realized how much I didn’t like it.” She turned back to acting because it involved actually performing and thinking as opposed to just being a face and a body draped in designer clothes.
Commuting from Vancouver to Los Angeles to audition for roles didn’t phase Ms. Smulders; she jokes that “… it’s only three hours – on a plane . . .” but she drove the whole distance on most occasions. Her first TV role was a small part in Jeremiah, a Showtime sci/fi series, and the first steady role was in the ABC series Veritas: The Quest, which ran for only one season in 2003. Cobie also has an acting credit from The L Word, a Showtime series about lesbians and their lives and loves in West Hollywood.
Cobie still marvels at her good fortune in landing a major role in How I Met Your Mother. That long-running comedy series aired on CBS from 2005 to 2014, garnering 28 Emmy nominations and winning nine of them. As Robin Scherbatsky, a news anchorwoman with complicated relationships, she co-stars with Neil Patrick Harris and Josh Radnor. Robin is, like Cobie herself, a Canadian with dual U.S./Canadian citizenship; she credits CBS with facilitating that paperwork.
Just before the final episode aired, she told one interviewer, “I’ve landed in this place of, like, sublime gratitude. Anytime I start to get sad about this show [ending] I think about just how long we have been on the air, and now I’m just walking out there into the unknown.” That wasn’t entirely true, however; Cobie was already deep into the role of Agent Maria Hill in The Avengers franchise, with Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark, the Iron Man.
About Maria, Cobie says, “I kind of like the idea that she’s this woman in a man’s world,” and she gives much of the credit to director and screenwriter Josh Whedon for making the characters, including her own, interesting and believable. “Not only is it a really fun visual movie-going experience” . . . “it’s not just guys hitting things and things blowing up, there’s a story.”
That particular story is ongoing for Cobie, starting with Marvel’s The Avengers released in 2012, then Captain America: The Winter Soldier in 2014 and Avengers: Age of Ultron in 2015. As the movies stack up, Robin has grown into a key element in the story line and Cobie couldn’t be more delighted. Amongst all the other benefits of her role, it helps keep her in top shape. She gets to do a bit of violence, though for the most part she’s behind the scenes orchestrating the actions of her super-hero co-stars.
As a fairly remarkable side-note, when she was only 25 Cobie was diagnosed with ovarian cancer which had also spread to lymph nodes. Numerous surgeries and two years later she was declared cancer-free, and in the meantime she kept right on working; most of her fans had no idea of the situation until she went public in an interview with Women’s Health. The experience taught her, she said, “. . . to take advantage of life and enjoy myself and not get so stressed out.”
During that ‘meantime’ Cobie racked up a good handful of diverse roles. In 2012 she was Claire “the monorail girl” in Grassroots, and in 2013 she played Jo, the neighbor -with-a-secret in the film adaptation of Nicholas Sparks’ novel Safe Haven. Also in that same year Cobie co-starred with Vince Vaughn and Chris Pratt as Emma, girlfriend of the guy who fathered 533 children – as a sperm donor – in the film Delivery Man.
Just to keep her hand in, so to speak, Cobie also had the part of Wonder Woman in the animated film The Lego Movie, released in February 2014. Sadly, her character didn’t get much action but Cobie was plenty busy with her role as Maria Hill in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which was released in April of 2014. Her third Avengers film, Age of Ultron, was released in May 2015, and that same month another of her films was released – Results.
In Results Cobie plays a fitness trainer, and the scoop is that she was several months pregnant when filming took place – in a Texas summer yet – and audiences had no idea. She jokes, “I’m a grower, not a shower,” and said she was careful to avoid over-doing. Her character Kat works at a gym owned by Trevor (Guy Pearce) whose training methods differ from hers, but the real problem is that there’s an unresolved personal issue between them.
Reviewers tended to feel that her talents were wasted, so the ‘results’ were mixed as far as Cobie is concerned. However, barely two months later in July the movie Unexpected was released, with Cobie starring as Samantha Abbott, a Chicago inner-city high school teacher whose unexpected pregnancy and that of her star student coincide to create a dramatic comedy with totally unexpected consequences.
Right alongside that came the premiere of Intervention, an Indie film that has gotten positive reviews with only a limited release.
And now, folks, she’s teamed up with Tom Cruise (the King of Sequels) to make Jack Reacher: Never Go Back – the sequel to Jack Reacher (2012), the film made from one of Lee Childs’ many Reacher novels. Never Go Back is based on another of those, and critics differ about the performance by Cruise, but he gets a lot of credit. So does Cobie, as the victim of a government cover-up that has her arrested for unknown crimes.
Reacher is an ex-military guy who just wants to live his life in (relative) peace but gets caught up in dire and deadly situations when he tries to exonerate his old friend Major Susan Turner, who has taken over Jack’s position as head of an internal military police organization.
Rather than supervising super-heroes, Cobie as Major Turner gets to be a badass good guy, like Reacher himself, with no super powers, just well-placed fists and considerable stamina and agility. She’s obviously delighted with the role: “It was really fun to be in a movie where you had to fight for your life at every opportunity.”
It would seem that Cobie Smulders is very good at fighting for her life, having survived a real life-and-death struggle with cancer. Fighting and running from bad guys in movies is surely a piece of cake, and we can expect to see more of her winning ways in the near future. Never Go Back opens in the UK on October 20 and in the US on the 21st.
|2004||Walking Tall||Eye candy|
|2005||The Long Weekend||Ellen|
|2006||Escape||Psychotic brunette||Short film|
|2006||Dr. Miracles||Mrs. Peterson||Short film|
|2007||The Storm Awaits||Anabella DeLorenzo||Short film|
|2009||The Slammin’ Salmon||Tara|
|2012||The Avengers||Maria Hill|
|2013||Safe Haven||Carly Jo Wheatley|
|2014||The Lego Movie||Wonder Woman||Voice|
|2014||They Came Together||Tiffany|
|2014||Captain America: The Winter Soldier||Maria Hill|
|2015||Avengers: Age of Ultron||Maria Hill|
|2016||Jack Reacher: Never Go Back||Major Susan Turner||Post-Production|
|TBA||Why We’re Killing Gunther||Filming|
|TBA||Literally Right Before Aaron||Post-Production|