Paul Fischer: I want to start off by talking about your ethnic background. You're Jewish. Yet you were raised by an African-American, correct?
Rob Cohen: Yeah.
P.F: How did that influence your desire to become a filmmaker or did it, in fact, influence that?
Rob Cohen: I think that it's such a long series of evolutionary events to the point when you think you come to who you think you want to be. The tough love of who you call housekeeper and Godmother and her Baptist spirituality, I think being an outsider, the town I grew up in, it makes you retreat into your own world of fantasy. So, then you go to college and then you're going to study. Then you ask your friend/roommate, who was also an African-American, well, can you get me something to read while I was laid up sick for six weeks and he ended up getting me this book of cinematography. When I got out of the service, I wrote this short script. But there's not this one, defining moment, it's a long strand of events.P.F.: Being Jewish, and having confronted anti-Semitism, did you ever rebel against your Jewishness or rediscover in some point in your life?
Rob Cohen: I'm totally in reaction to it. I've never been comfortable with the Jewish identity. It's been one of those crosses to bear that I had the surname 'Cohen' which is a label. You can't hide even if you wanted to, so I don't practice. It's not anything of interest to me. I don't want to rediscover it. I'm not interested. You know, I -- I have taken up Buddhism, not because of the need for religion -- ego, which is your biggest enemy. It helps me remember each day to keep my ego in check.
P.F: Yours can be a very soulless profession. So where do you find your spirituality?
Rob Cohen: Well, I meditate and I basically go through a Buddhist practice.
P.F: Do you avoid working with people whose first priority is ego?
Rob Cohen: No.
P.F: How do you deal with stars who are full of ego?
Rob Cohen: I have a way of reminding them how frail and fragile their clink is that they've set themselves up. I would say to them: 'I once worked with a guy who was big, just like you, so now that you've said those things to me, most actors know intrinsically know that their position in the public eye is fleeting'.