On the stage, Corey Cott has played a reformed gang leader (West Side Story), a war veteran (Bandstand), a rebellious newsboy (Newsies) and the heir to a sugar fortune (Gigi), and the Broadway favorite will soon be leaving his mark on television taking a cue from that turn as part of the artistocracy.
In Filthy Rich, the much-anticipated gothic family drama for FOX (premiering September 21), Cott plays Eric, the heir apparent to a multi-million-dollar Christian television network.
Developed by director Tate Taylor (The Help, Girl on a Train), Filthy Rich kicks off when the patriarch of an influential conservative Christian family, Eugene Monreaux, is reported dead in a plane crash and his family begins battle over who will succeed the dearly departed.
“There are a lot of shows right now about billionaire families, between Succession and Billions, it’s a compelling idea of watching people a lot richer than us deal with life,” Cott says. “What this show is going to do, though, is deal with it in a way that’s not outrageous and really humble these people down to earth.”
Cott descibes Eric as a complex young man, who was written in the breakdown as akin to John F. Kennedy, Jr.
“I’ve run with that a bit and started to read a lot about him and how private he was, but how loved he was by the public,” he says. “While Eric is different in a lot of ways, I think his relationship with his mother [played by Kim Cattrall] is very similar to what I’ve read about Jackie and JFK, Jr. I think Eric wants that same approval from her.”
Cott values Taylor’s style, throwing around ideas and keeping things unpredictable with twists and turns. That, he believes, is the hallmark of creating a character that captures viewers. He cites his brother Casey’s role as Kevin on Riverdale as a character to whom people connected quickly. While he’s talked at length with his brother about the pros and cons of TV life, those are guarded family secrets—perhaps best when stepping into the Monreaux family.
Filthy Rich holds its fair share of closeted skeletons—illegitimate children, promises made in the dark, and just what really happened in that plane crash—and Cott believes the twists and turns will make people want to come back every week as the Monreaux drama unfolds.
“This show is attempting to do a challenging thing in our culture right now—convey and portray characters who are convicted about things in a gray way, rather than a black-and-white way,” Cott says. “We’re going to challenge the audience to see a middle ground between these very divisive issues that are happening in the world.”
Cott compares Filthy Rich to Empire in the way a single family aims to dominate a specific industry, mixed with traces of Parenthood, because of the touching human interaction between the characters. Cott’s character is married to Becky (played by Olivia Macklin), a woman more nuanced than her snobbish shell would suggest.
“Olivia and I immediately hit it off. We came up with a whole backstory for how we met; and Eric and she have a little bit of Lady Macbeth and Macbeth going on,” Cott says. “She has some power over Eric and there might be some antagonistic things going on. Our characters do love each other and it’s not all selfishly ambitious, and they are definitely glad to be married to one another.”
The cast also includes Aubrey Dollar, Benjamin Aguilar, Mark L. Young, Melia Kreiling and Steve Harris. Set and filmed in New Orleans, the city is its own character in the show. “I don’t know if I’ve ever been to a city that is so obvious with its culture in everyday settings, from the beads hanging on trees to the purple and yellow colors everywhere to the way people decorate their homes,” he says. “It’s very easy to immediately see we are in New Orleans. That’s definitely part of the show. From the food to the music to the culture at large, it’s definitely a vehicle that allows us to tell the story in an authentic way.”
Over his career, Cott has done about a dozen guest spots on shows like The Good Fight, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and Madam Secretary, but this marks his first full-time role on network TV, something he has always dreamed of.
“I’ve been singing for eight years to make a living and I love musical theatre and I will always pursue that for as long as I can, but there’s a little more freedom with TV financially and schedule-wise, and I can just do a little more than I could when I am just being an athlete on stage eight days a week,” says Cott. “I’m very ready for this.”
“Being in this medium is really exciting, and I am game for just about anything,” he adds. “Whoever will hire me for projects I care about, I am absolutely down to do it. That could be a short run, a play, a film…but theatre will always be a part of my life.”