Bradley Cooper covers the June/July issue of Esquire magazine, and the online version provides a few scant excerpts, so I went through the print edition to see if there was much more to the story. And, disappointingly, the final product is a mixed bag. The odd thing about this interview really isn’t that Bradley and the journalist (Lisa Taddeo) cooked dinner together, which isn’t out of the ordinary because Esquire usually does things a bit differently and more intimately with their cover stories than merely transcribing a standard few minutes at a press conference. One example of this approach would be Matthew McConaughey’s weekend hospitality tour, which was rebuffed by a different writer with startling similar results to the case at hand.
The bizarre thing about this particular article is that, within the entire breadth of the seven-page interview, there are very few quotes from Cooper himself. Mostly, the journalist reveals what other people say about Cooper as well as her own impressions of him, which doesn’t appear to be a positive take. Basically, the story is that the Taddeo and Cooper went to Whole Foods and purchased some pasta and squid to prepare at her home. Presumably, cooking and eating the dinner as well as the conversation itself was a process that took at least a few hours, yet it seems like an entirely wasted effort on Cooper’s part. Either Taddeo made up her mind before doing the interview and didn’t bother preparing proper questions, or Cooper is a major tool; for now, I’m leaning towards the former possibility:
On Interview Travel Arrangements: “He doesn’t need a driver,” his publicist says. “I mean, we will have one waiting there for him, but Bradley doesn’t need to be driven around. He isn’t like that.”
On How Fame Feels: He shakes his head. “Since Limitless opened, my agent calls me every morning and asks, “Do you feel any different?” And I’m like, “Nope. Do you feel any different?”
On Working It: [His publicist] reads a giddy e-mail from one of their foreign partners, they say they have simply never ahd a movie star so amenable to doing publicity. And then in France did you know that he replied to every single question in French! This is true, he gives his whole body to the human at hand, but the inaccurrate thing is when it’s described as though Bradley Cooper is doing everyone else — Relativity, his directors — a favor. The raw truth is that Bradley Cooper knows better than anyone else that this is his moment. “There is no off switch for his career,” say three of his friends in three separate conversations. He is willing himself into being a star and the way he does that is by always being on, active, and engaged. Even when he is genuinely connecting with someone, he is using his hair and is eyes and tilting his chin and smiling and nodding at your very interesting story.
We’re about to eat dinner with no wine or water and he was going to make this after-dinner digestive of fennel in olive oil. He starts to say it’s an Italian custom, and i say that yes, I know about it…and suddenly the opportunity to impress is over. “Do you think we need it?” he asks.
He Avoids Ridiculous Questions: Sitting down, I ask him how many times he’s been in love. He says, “But really, what do you think about the squid?”
On The Occasional Bout Of Sloth: “Oh my God, I am so f@king lazy,” he says. But even his laziness is moderated, because all is about capitalizing on a moment.
I say something about someone from my past that he reminds me of, and he looks into my eyes, and like a movie scene, he says, “I’m not that guy.” And even as I’m thinking, What the hell is he talking about? I’m also nodding. Hypnosis, eyes, hair smile. Yes, whatever you say, Bradley Cooper.
On Being A Tabloid Darling: “Being in Us Weekly does not make you famous. Paul Thomas Anderson does not read Us Weekly and go, ‘Hey look at this guy! I want this douchebag in my next film.’ ”
On His Admiration of Zach Galifianakis: “I like the way he walks through life,” He pauses, “I like that line.”
“Are you imagining the way it will look in print?” I ask. Because we have been narrating the story all day. Cooper reaches for the saute pan and the sea salt. Cooper crosses his legs, and then Bradley Cooper looks out the window at his rising star in the night sky.
He laughs. I like they way he walks through life. “If you have me saying I like the way that sounds, then yeah, that makes me sound like a douche.”
[From Esquire June/July 2011 print edition]
From what I gather in the entire seven pages of this interview, the journalist thinks very little of Cooper and is attempting to sway the readers’ opinions in favor of him as a self-obsessed, image-conscious actor who attempts to manipulate the perspective of those who interview him. Hello Miss Captain Obvious, that’s generally the way things roll with the Hollywood publicity machine. Yet the writer here seems to think that she’s making some groundbreaking, existentialist observation about the construct of one Bradley Cooper, and it comes off as a petty move. To me, it seems like Cooper was probably weary and jaded from his recent experiences with the press (after all, the piece does note that the interview was conducted immediately after the Renee Zellweger breakup), and he did a decent job of deflecting some brainless, unnecessary questions with some self-depreciating humor.
Beyond the interview, the accompanying Esquire photoshoot isn’t much better and features Cooper surrounded by a cache of cougar-esque beauties, all of whom are vying for his attention. As a cover story, it’s not terribly impressive for a magazine that used to conduct amazing interviews but has recently grown a bit too much attitude for the job.
Photos courtesy of Esquire