Bradley Cooper’s PR people are trying to repackage him as accessible, they’re trying to show us more of his personal “softer” side, and it’s working. I’m actually starting to warm up to the guy. He’s been very guarded and careful about his personal life in the past, and has come across as either milquetoast or douchey. Now he’s opening up and this is the strategy he should have taken from the get-go. The Hollywood Reporter has a new interview and profile with Cooper and I’ll be damned if I didn’t come away with more respect for him. Cooper went to the Actors Studio in New York after college and he was so talented and dedicated that James Lipton told his parents “Your son will go all the way.” Well he did, and THR is touting how Cooper is carefully choosing his roles to expand his acting repertoire, since he’s making bank from the Hangover movies and doesn’t need the money.
All that said, I’m focusing on Cooper’s claims that he’s been sober for almost 10 years because I don’t really buy it. I mean I believe that he might have given up drinking and hard drugs, but he looks like he’s hopped up on stimulants in some of his recent appearances, and I’ll cover that in a moment. Here are the relevant parts of his interview, with more at the source:
Hangover director Todd Phillips on Cooper
“He is ridiculously different in real life. People think he is just playing a version of himself, and that couldn’t be further from the truth. He is very vulnerable — insecure is not the right word — and that character is just straight-up confident. And there’s a warmth to him you would never know.”
Cooper on getting sober at 29
“I don’t drink or do drugs at all anymore,” says Cooper, noting he gave them up at 29, when their toll was unbearable. “Being sober helps a great deal.”
Once, he relates, “I was at a party and deliberately bashed my head on the concrete floor — like, ‘Hey, look how tough I am!’ And I came up, and blood dripped down. And then I did it again. I spent the night at St. Vincent’s Hospital with a sock of ice, waiting for them to stitch me up.”
He adds: “I was so concerned what you thought of me, how I was coming across, how I would survive the day. I always felt like an outsider. I just lived in my head. I realized I wasn’t going to live up to my potential, and that scared the hell out of me. I thought, ‘Wow, I’m actually gonna ruin my life; I’m really gonna ruin it.’ ”
Friends repeatedly cautioned him, yet he didn’t listen. “Part of me believed it, and part of me didn’t. But the proof was in the pudding: I’d always gotten up at the crack of dawn, and that was out the window. I remember looking at my life, my apartment, my dogs, and I thought, ‘What’s happening?’ ”
It was then he decided to change, and the effect was transformative.
On preparing for The Pines
In preparing for the job, Cooper spent a month with the police, “going into these domestic disturbances, which are about 80 percent of the calls. There was one house with a fish tank that a shoe had been thrown through. Dead fish were everywhere — and kittens were eating the dead fish as we walked by.”
He won’t talk about his personal life
Cooper’s every action now is scrutinized — from his four-month marriage to actress Jennifer Esposito in 2006 (“She’s a wonderful woman,” is all he will say) to whomever he’s dating, including his current partner and Words co-star, Zoe Saldana.
He won’t discuss her or confirm they’re together (though he gushes about her work). “It’s not for me to say,” he notes.
Despite the demands of his A-list status, Cooper has retained a loyalty and decency that impress his friends (and he recently started working with the Paul Newman-founded Hole in the Wall Gang Camp).
“He is such an honest and straightforward guy; there’s not an ounce of duplicitousness in him,” says Phillips.
On his career
He has gone past the dark days of his youth and is moving toward a bright future, staking his reputation on movies he believes in — like Words. “He made a lot of calls for this movie,” notes childhood pal Klugman, adding it never would have gotten off the ground without him.
The director marvels at how the boy who attended his bar mitzvah has remained grounded and true. “He has so much chaos swirling around him. He goes from one movie to the next. It is a very surreal lifestyle. But look at the choices he is making — these are not the choices of a typical movie star. None of them are just paychecks.”
See, he seems like a hardworking, standup guy. If he plays his cards right he could continue to change public opinion. I still think he’s more of a talented character actor than a lead who can carry a movie, but I could be wrong. Limitless was kind of awesome. (Until it got complicated and had that magic ending.)
Speaking of Limitless, I don’t believe Cooper is “sober” per se. His pupils look like pinpoints in his recent appearances, particularly at premieres of The Words. My guess would be that Cooper is on a prescription ADHD drug like Adderall or Ritalin. (Which he may need and be legitimately prescribed.) That’s wild speculation on my part, though. Look at his eyes in the photos below, are those sober eyes?
Oh and here’s a link to the slideshow of Bradley Cooper’s photoshoot for THR. They’re making him out to be a cool everyday man’s man in a leather jacket at a dive bar. It’s not a bad strategy.
After I wrote all that, I found these quotes from Bradley’s Words co-star and rumored ex-girlfriend, Zoe Saldana, about him. She said “no comment” when asked about their relationship, but spoke fondly of him. “Bradley is a very dedicated and open professional. It’s really good when you can balance that with an actor as opposed to an actor that just comes prepared and just goes, ‘don’t f*k up my light’ and ‘this line is my close-up.’ We didn’t care where was the camera was. It was just like we were both part of this extensive conversation.” An extreme conversation that ended up in bed and didn’t last after filming wrapped.
Photo credit: FameFlynet and WENN.com