Cope was born on December 9, 1944 in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia to Arthur Lindsay Cope and Marjorie Pearl Cope (née Wooster). At one time, he worked for the Department of the Attorney General and Justice as a clerk. Cope married in 1964 to Solveiga Cope (née Paegle) in New South Wales, Australia, and had a son.
Cope got the role of Guanta by accident. He was accompanying his son to acting agencies around Syndey, Australia as his son wished to be an actor. An agent happened to spot Cope (who was very tall) as he and his son were leaving an agency. The agent caught up with Cope and told him about the casting and asked him if he'd like to go to an audition.
Cope died on October 12, 2008, after a 15 month battle with cancer, in Bathurst, New South Wales, Australia, he was preceded in death by his wife, Solveiga who died in 2000.