Turn on TV: Bradley Cooper is hosting Saturday Night Live. Change the channel. It’s a rerun of Nip/Tuck. There’s Bradley Cooper as Aidan Stone.
Go to On Demand on the cable box: Select Yes Man, the latest Jim Carrey comedy. Hey, it’s Bradley Cooper.
Open Entertainment Weekly: Says that Bradley Cooper will play Lt. Templeton “Faceman” Peck in the movie version of the TV series The A-Team. Grab the previous week’s edition of the publication and see that Bradley Cooper is the likely candidate for the lead in the big screen adaptation of the classic comic-book crusader Green Lantern.
Look at the newspaper ads to find a movie opening this weekend to check out: Opening on Friday: The Hangover, starring, um, Bradley Cooper(!!)
Bradley Cooper is everywhere—and here, sitting on a sofa in the Four Seasons Hotel in downtown Philly, just miles from his hometown of Jenkintown, PA.
The night before, the ubiquitous Mr. Cooper did a Q and A after a screening of The Hangover, his hilarious new film in which he’s sort of the lead.
Sort of because it’s an ensemble work, but Bradley’s character Phil, a teacher, is kind of the immoral compass of the this raunchy and often hilarious guy-com. Phil is joined by dentist Stu (The Office’s Ed Helms) and weird guy slacker Alan (Zach Galifianakis) to partake in bachelor party debauchery in Las Vegas before the upcoming nuptials of pal Doug (Justin Bartha). After one night in Glitter Gulch, the guys wake up to find their suite at Caesar’s completely dismantled, Stu missing a tooth and married, and Doug AWOL. Oh, yes, there’s a tiger roaming around their room.
Post-screening, the 34-year-old Cooper fielded questions about the raucous film in front of family members and old teachers from his high school of Germantown Academy.
Because of The Hangover’s flirting-near-NC-17 antics, someone in the audience asks Cooper if he’s embarrassed by standing in front of close ones and old acquaintances while decidedly un-PC situations unspool onscreen.
“Well, in my first film, Wet Hot American Summer, I was butt-f**ked by Michael Ian Black, so this is no big deal,” he jokes.
In the hotel room the next day, Cooper reflects on his busy career and the future. So many roles in a relatively short amount of time. What draws him to them?
“It’s always the director,” says the Georgetown grad and Actor’s Studio alum. “Any career that I look up, the longevity of a career is based on who the filmmakers are that you worked with. If you look at any of the big guys, they’ve worked with every great director.
“Tom Cruise has worked with everybody. Even his failures have been with amazing filmmakers. In terms of comedy, until a year ago, I took anything just to work. I just wanted to work. I got very lucky.
“By the time that I got to (Hangover director) Todd Phillips, I knew that he was the reason to do the movie. This guy knows what he’s talking about. I didn’t know that about him before. I like Old School, but I didn’t realize his background. He did this documentary, Hated, about (Murder Junkies lead singer) GG Allin, which is fantastic. He’s a real filmmaker and a real cinephile. He really loves movies. He went to N.Y.U. and he’s a great guy.”
Phillips, Cooper says, is right in league with other filmmakers he’s worked with like David Wain (Wet Hot American Summer) and David Dobkin (Wedding Crashers).
“Todd is in the vein of all those guys,” says Cooper, who was once married to actress Jennifer Esposito. “The difference with Todd and this movie, and (his films) Old School and Starsky And Hutch and Road Trip, is the evolution of him as a filmmaker. The Hangover, it’s a much more cinematically-minded movie. It’s also, at its core, not just a series of comedic scenes strung together, but actually it’s a detective story, it’s a mystery.”
According to Cooper, the film’s edgy tone comes from Phillips, who allowed improvisation which led to some of the darker bits of comedy in the movie. “He knew that it would fit the tone of the movie. It’s Vegas in the daytime,” states Cooper. “It’s dark, it’s a gritty movie. All those things we weren’t aware of (after reading the script). Because of that, Todd edited the movie in six weeks. We did no reshoots. That’s almost unheard of for a comedy.”
Essential for The Hangover to work, according to Cooper, was the chemistry among the ensemble members.
“If you take one person out of that trio, the whole film changes, relates Cooper. “It could very well have fallen apart. I think that the fact that we’re all in pretty much the same place in our career, we’re all the same sort of visibility, that’s a real asset. That no one is bigger than the others. We all wanted to work.”
As for Wet Hot American Summer, a 2001 low-budget look at summer camp written by Wain and his Stella cohort Michael Showalter, Cooper admits he’s amazed at how popular the movie has remained, especially after an extremely quick theatrical release.
“David Wain was my first (director) with Wet Hot American Summer,” recalls Cooper. “I remember that it was shot in 2000 and released in 2001 in about four theaters. David Wain was so locked into everything. He would tell us ‘Look, there’s going to be a screening here at midnight.’ We would go there and people would dress up as the characters. There’s a scene, where Molly Shannon is with the kids and she throws the crayons on the floor. The audience would pull crayons out of their pockets and throw them at the screen. It was like Rocky Horror Picture Show. He was a very hands-on director.”
Despite a steady log of TV and film work, Cooper first drew attention with his regular role in the TV series Alias, playing spy Jennifer Garner’s reporter pal Will Tippin, and as his performance as the arrogant Sack, fiancé to Rachel McAdams’ Claire, in the surprise smash Wedding Crashers.
“After Alias, the TV show that I did, where I played the nicest guy in the universe, I didn’t see anything—at all. Producers (must’ve) said, ‘Bradley, he’ s such a nice guy.’
“I went into audition for Wedding Crashers. Dobkin didn’t know anything about Alias. I just went in. Something clicked in the room. He said, ‘That’s it, you’re the guy.’ He took a chance with me. I remember he stopped anyone else from auditioning that day. To get the studio to approve someone to play the heavy in the movie that was the nice guy on Alias…After that movie was a success, all of a sudden, people said, ‘Isn’t he an asshole?’
Following the Wedding Crashers success, Cooper “stayed away from a lot of asshole roles. Maybe, I didn’t get far enough away from it.”
Certainly, his choices seemed to have panned out, even after making such disappointing films as the underrated Clive Barker adaptation The Midnight Meat Train and The Rocker with Rainn Wilson, and taking the lead in the short-lived TV series Kitchen Confidential.
With the release of The Hangover, Cooper has other projects already in the can, including New York, I Love You, the anthology film follow-up to Paris Je Taime; Case 39, a thriller with Scarlett Johansson; and All About Steve, a romantic farce with Sandra Bullock.
How about those rumors regarding Bradley Cooper in full mask as Green Lantern, or as a member of the A-Team?
“It’s the invention of the Internet, I have no news to report,” he says with a smile, then quickly fields the next question.
He got his influences from watching movies and television with his father when he was young. Cooper’s comedy heroes, meanwhile, range from Sellers to Danny Kaye to Dagwood Bumstead.
Of comedies, Cooper says, “I love making them. Shooting a comedy as opposed to a drama in my experience, there’s something so vibrant. So much of it is improvisational these days.”
Does he have any aspirations to direct?
“The truth be told, the only thing I’ve really wanted to do since I was a kid was direct,” states Cooper. “I think that I’m still too scared to do it for some reason. I love to act. Hopefully, it will take me into directing.
One wonders if Cooper thought his first film would be a comedy.
“No! Starting out, I never even contemplated shooting a comedy.” As for the actor’s background in filmmaking, there’s not much to report. “Zero,” he states. “The answer should be,’ I’d start off making some shorts and this and that.’ The truth is I’d like to sit down with New Line and say, ‘Let me direct this one.’