Cooper in 2009
|Born||Bradley Charles Cooper
January 5, 1975
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
|Residence||Los Angeles, California, U.S.|
|Alma mater||Georgetown University, B.A. 1997
The New School, MFA 2000
|Spouse(s)||Jennifer Esposito (m. 2006; div. 2007)|
Bradley Charles Cooper (born January 5, 1975) is an American actor and producer. After graduating at Georgetown University in 1997, he moved to New York City to enroll in the MFA program at the Actors Studio Drama School at New School University. Cooper's television debut came with a guest role in Sex and the City in 1999 and film debut in Wet Hot American Summer two years later. He first gained recognition in the spy-action television show Alias (2001–06). His career prospects declined through much of the 2000s, although he achieved minor success with a supporting part in the comedy Wedding Crashers (2005). His breakthrough role came in 2009 with the comedy The Hangover (2009), which spawned two successful sequels in 2011 and 2013.
Cooper was praised by critics for his roles in the thriller Limitless (2011) and the crime drama The Place Beyond the Pines (2013). He established himself as a leading actor in Hollywood with his collaborations with David O. Russell in the comedy dramas Silver Linings Playbook (2012) and American Hustle (2013), and Clint Eastwood in the biopic American Sniper (2014). For these films, Cooper was nominated for four Academy Awards—three for acting and one for producing the last of these. The former made Cooper the tenth actor in history to receive an Oscar nomination in three consecutive years. In 2014, he portrayed Joseph Merrick in a Broadway revival of the play The Elephant Man, garnering a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play nomination.
One of the highest-paid actors in the world, Cooper has been nominated for four Academy Awards, two British Academy Film Awards, two Golden Globe Awards and one Tony Award. Other honors include International Man of the Year by GQ and Sexiest Man Alive by People magazine in 2011.
Cooper was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and grew up nearby in Jenkintown and Rydal. His mother, Gloria (née Campano), worked for the local NBC affiliate. His father, Charles Cooper, who died on January 15, 2011, worked as a stockbroker for Merrill Lynch. He has an older sister, Holly. He was raised Roman Catholic. His father was of Irish descent and his mother is of Italian ancestry (from Abruzzo and Naples). Cooper had cholesteatoma in his ear soon after his birth and punctured it when he started diving at an early age. Speaking about his childhood, he has said that "I never lived the life of ‘Oh, you’re so good-looking. People thought I was a girl when I was little, because I looked like a girl".
As a child, Cooper excelled at basketball, and loved cooking: "I used to have buddies come over after kindergarten and I'd cook them food. I prided myself in taking whatever was in the fridge and turning it into lasagna". He initially wanted to attend military academy and move to Japan to become a ninja. At an early age, his father introduced him to films—together they watched the likes of Apocalypse Now and The Deer Hunter. He says, "I was 12 years old when my father showed it to me and it floored me, I became obsessed with it". Cooper believes that the "acting gene" might have come from his father, whom he thinks was "such a goofball". The actor says that his parents were initially unsure about his career choice: "[they] ideally, would have wanted me to do something in finance". They eventually changed their perceptions when they saw him play the part of John Merrick in an excerpt from the play The Elephant Man (1977).
Coming from a background of workers, Cooper was the first one from his neighborhood to go to college. While attending Germantown Academy, he worked at the Philadelphia Daily News. After graduating from Germantown Academy in 1993, Cooper met Apoorva Walimbe upon whose suggestion he attended Villanova University, his father's alma mater, for a year before transferring to Georgetown. Cooper graduated with honors from Georgetown University with a BA in English in 1997. He was a member of the Georgetown Hoyas rowing team and acted with Nomadic Theatre. Cooper became fluent in French at Georgetown and spent six months as an exchange student in Aix-en-Provence, France. Cooper began his professional acting career with a guest role in an episode of the television show Sex and the City in 1999, and served as a presenter in the travel-adventure series Globe Trekker. In 2000, he received an MFA in acting from Actors Studio Drama School at The New School (now the Actors Studio Drama School at Pace University) in New York City. While studying at The New School, Cooper worked as a doorman at the Morgans Hotel.
Early roles (1999–2008)
Cooper's film debut came in the ensemble comedy Wet Hot American Summer (2001) that takes place in a fictional summer camp in 1981, and features him as Ben, the love interest of Michael Ian Black's character. Although the film was critically and commercially unsuccessful, it has developed a cult status over the years. Cooper reprised the role in the film's prequel Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp (2015), an eight-episode Netflix series.
Cooper achieved early success by playing Will Tippin—a local reporter for a newspaper and the best friend of Jennifer Garner's character, Sydney Bristow—in J.J. Abrams' successful television spy-action drama Alias (2001–06). Cooper says that Garner was one of the first people he met in Los Angeles, and "was very maternal [...] She wanted to take care of me, make sure I was okay all the time". Cooper acted in the 2002 psychological thriller Changing Lanes. The scenes in which he appeared were edited out of the final cut of the film, but are featured on the film's DVD and Blu-ray releases. He guest-starred on the short-lived TV series Miss Match and played the part of cowboy and race horse trainer Morgan Murphy in the TV movie The Last Cowboy, which aired on the Hallmark Channel in January 2003. He appeared in the ABC Family film I Want to Marry Ryan Banks with Jason Priestley and as a regular guest star in the WB series Jack & Bobby.
Cooper's career prospects improved with a more prominent role in the David Dobkin-directed comedy Wedding Crashers alongside Owen Wilson, Vince Vaughn and Rachel McAdams. In the film, he played Sack Lodge, the arrogant and aggressive boyfriend of Claire (McAdams) who is obsessed with winning. Cooper believed that his portrayal of the negative character—a role he describes as "kind of a sociopath"—changed people's perception toward him, as he had previously played the "nice guy". From a production budget of $40 million, the film grossed over $285 million worldwide. In September 2005, Fox debuted the sitcom Kitchen Confidential, based on a memoir by chef Anthony Bourdain, with Cooper in the leading role. Despite positive reviews for the series, the show was canceled after only four episodes.
In March 2006, he starred as Pip/Theo in Three Days of Rain on Broadway with Julia Roberts and Paul Rudd at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theater. He later appeared in the film Failure to Launch as a friend of the film's protagonist (played by Matthew McConaughey) and on stage as Jake in the 2008 production of Theresa Rebeck's play The Understudy at the Williamstown Theatre Festival alongside Kristen Johnston. Cooper next appeared in Season 5 of Nip/Tuck (2007) as Aidan Stone, a television star on the fictional show Hearts 'N Scalpels, and continued to appear in minor roles with the 2008 comedies Yes Man and The Rocker. A prominent role in the Ryuhei Kitamura-directed feature The Midnight Meat Train (2008) was more noteworthy. The supernatural horror film was based Clive Barker's 1984 short story of the same name, and follows a freelance photographer (Cooper) who attempts to track down a serial killer. The dark character was a departure from the actor's previous comical roles, and he admitted to loving the experience. The Midnight Meat Train received positive reviews from critics, although it was a commercial failure.
Breakthrough and success (2009–12)
In February 2009, Cooper hosted Saturday Night Live with musical guest TV on the Radio, portraying actor Christian Bale in one skit. Later that year, he appeared in a supporting role in the film He's Just Not That Into You. Cooper's breakthrough role came with Todd Phillips' comedy The Hangover (2009). He played Phil Wenneck, one of the three friends—alongside Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis—to wake up from a bachelor party in Las Vegas, with no memory of the previous night and the bachelor missing. The film was a financial success, grossing over $467 million worldwide, making it the fifth-highest-grossing R-rated film in the United States. The film won the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy, and was included in Steven Jay Schneider's 2011 edition of 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die. The New York Times' A. O. Scott wrote, "Mr. Cooper [...] offers the most interesting variation on an old standard, playing his aggressive, cocky frat boy with a snarl of rage that masks an anxiety as hard to account for as it is to miss." For his performance, Cooper received an award at the 13th Hollywood Film Festival and his first nomination for MTV Movie Awards—Best Comedic Performance. The newspaper The Daily Telegraph opined that the success of the film turned Cooper into "a bona fide leading man". However, Cooper stated in a 2011 interview with Shave Magazine, "It's the same. I mean, look, more doors have been opened for sure, but it’s not like I sit back with a cigar on Monday morning and go through the scripts that have been offered."
Also in 2009, Cooper featured in the psychological horror Case 39, a delayed production that was filmed in 2006. He paired with Sandra Bullock in the comedy All About Steve that was poorly received by critics and failed to earn a wide audience. For the film, they won a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Screen Combo. In 2010, Cooper appeared in the ensemble romantic comedy Valentine's Day, directed by Garry Marshall, co-starring with Julia Roberts. The film was a commercial success, grossing over $215 million worldwide. He then played the role of the fictional character Templeton "Faceman" Peck in the feature film version of The A-Team alongside Liam Neeson, Quinton Jackson and Sharlto Copley. To prepare for the role, he abstained from consuming sugar, salt and flour, and underwent grueling. The film released to negative reviews and poor box office returns. Tim Robey of The Daily Telegraph wrote, "Cooper confirms his credentials as perhaps the most smugly narcissistic performer", while Empire credited both Cooper and Copley for "aceing swagger and insanity respectively, who best both capture and yet re-forge their iconic characters". Cooper appeared as guest host of WWE Raw in June 2010.
In 2011, Cooper starred in the techno-thriller Limitless, based on the 2001 novel The Dark Fields by Alan Glynn. The Neil Burger-directed film focuses on a struggling writer Edward Morra (Cooper), who is introduced to a nootropic drug called NZT-48 that gives him the ability to fully utilize his brain and vastly improve his lifestyle. The box office website Box Office Mojo was apprehensive of the film's financial prospects, although it emerged as a commercial success with a worldwide gross of $161 million. A writer for Variety said, "Cooper makes further strides toward major stardom, spelling excellent early spring returns and socko vid play". He found greater success with the comedy sequel to The Hangover, The Hangover Part II (2011), which earned over $580 million worldwide. Reviews for the film were generally negative, although the critic for Time complimented him, "Cooper gives a knowing performance: he’s both the peacock and the parody of one. He’s blessed with good looks and fantastic timing, the kind that makes every line funnier, even the small asides." At the 38th People's Choice Awards, he was nominated for Favorite Comedic Movie Actor.
Cooper appeared in four films in 2012—The Words, Hit and Run, The Place Beyond the Pines and Silver Linings Playbook. The mystery drama The Words failed to make an impact at the box-office; as did the action comedy Hit and Run. In Derek Cianfrance's critically acclaimed crime drama The Place Beyond the Pines, Cooper played a rookie police officer, a role Cianfrance specifically wrote for Cooper. He drove five hours to Montreal to meet with Cooper in order to convince him to take on the role. Cianfrance described Cooper's character as someone "paraded as a hero [...] But inside him corruption is going on, conflict is raging inside, guilt and shame are buried". A The Independent writer credited Cooper for "excelling as an archetype, the principled man who is personally rather dislikeable", adding, "I never imagined this actor capable of such layered character work." Despite positive reviews, the film had moderate box office returns.
Cooper starred with Robert De Niro and Jennifer Lawrence in David O. Russell's romantic comedy-drama Silver Linings Playbook, an adaptation of Matthew Quick's serio-comic novel of the same name. He was cast as a man with bipolar disorder who finds companionship in a young, depressed widow (Lawrence). Cooper was initially skeptical to play the part, which he thought was out of his depth, but he later accepted the role inspired by Russell's confidence in him. The director was impressed by his performance in Wedding Crashers, citing his "good bad-guy energy" and unpredictability as justification for casting; he also thought that Cooper would be able to bring out the character's emotion and vulnerability. In preparation, Cooper trained to dance with the choreographer Mandy Moore, who describes Cooper as having "some real natural dancing ability". The film was a box-office success, earning $236.4 million on a production budget of $21 million. Writing for Rolling Stone, Peter Travers added that Cooper "seizes the juiciest role of his career and meets every comic and dramatic challenge. There's an ache in his funny, touching and vital performance that resonates." For his performance, he earned an MTV Movie Award for Best Performance, and nominations for an Academy Award, Golden Globe Award, and Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Actor.
Recent work (2013–present)
In 2013, Cooper reprised his role as Phil Wenneck in the third and final installment of The Hangover trilogy, The Hangover Part III, which was panned by critics who were particularly disappointed with its darker tone. A reviewer for The Independent argued that Cooper is "reduced to mugging for the camera, offering reaction shots to nothing." Nevertheless, like its precedents, the film was a commercial success, grossing $362 million worldwide. Later that year, he took on the supporting role of an unhinged FBI agent in David O. Russell's crime comedy-drama American Hustle. Inspired by the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Abscam sting operation, the film is set against the backdrop of political corruption in 1970s New Jersey and also starred Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner and Lawrence. While filming a scene where Adams had to beat up Cooper, she accidently cause him black eye. American Hustle was a critical and commercial success with a global revenue of $251.1 million. Kim Newman of Empire wrote: "Cooper is stuck with the least rewarding role, but keeps finding brilliant little bits of business to hold the attention", praising his "spot impersonations of his overly cautious (but smart) boss". Cooper was nominated for an Academy Award, BAFTA Award, Critics' Choice Movie Award, and Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor, but did not win any.
Cooper reunited with Lawrence in the Susanne Bier-directed drama Serena—an adaptation of Ron Rash's period novel. The pair starred as a married couple who become involved in criminal activities after realizing that they cannot bear children. The picture was filmed in 2012, but was released in 2014 to negative reviews and poor box office returns. Cooper's performance was, however, generally praised by critics; The Canberra Times' Jake Wilson said, "Cooper once again proves his value as a leading man who approaches his roles like a character actor". In 2014, Cooper provided the voice of Rocket Raccoon in the Marvel Studios film Guardians of the Galaxy. From late 2014 through early 2015, Cooper starred on Broadway in The Elephant Man. Michael Coveney of Whatsonstage.com reviewed Cooper's portrayal of Joseph Merrick: "Cooper avoids every trap of "disability" acting by suffusing this outer appearance with soul and passion. It’s a wonderful, and very moving, display". For the play, he garnered a nomination for Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play.
Also in 2014, Cooper co-produced and starred as United States Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle in American Sniper—a biographical war drama from the director Clint Eastwood. The film documents the life of Kyle, who became the deadliest marksman in U.S. military history, and is loosely based on the eponymous memoir. To create Kyle's large physique, Cooper underwent extensive training and followed a rigorous diet, gaining 40 pounds (18 kg). Cooper's preparation also included lessons with a vocal coach, and studying footage of Kyle. To point a rifle, the actor trained with the US Navy SEAL veteran Kevin Lacz, who served with Kyle. The film received positive critical reviews, and Cooper's performance was considered its prime asset. The critic for Variety wrote, "an excellent performance from a bulked-up Bradley Cooper, this harrowing and intimate character study offers fairly blunt insights into the physical and psychological toll exacted on the front lines". USA Today's Claudia Puig thought, "It's clearly Cooper's show. Substantially bulked up and affecting a believable Texas drawl, Cooper embodies Kyle's confidence, intensity and vulnerability." With a global revenue of $547 million, American Sniper became the actor's greatest commercial success and the third highest-grossing R-rated film of all time. Cooper won an MTV Movie Award for Best Male Performance, and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor and an Best Picture. With these nominations, Cooper became the tenth actor in history to receive an Academy Award nomination in three consecutive years.
None of Cooper's films released in 2015—Aloha, Burnt and Joy—performed particularly well at the box office. He starred in Cameron Crowe's Aloha with Emma Stone, Rachel McAdams. The project became controversial due to the Media Action Network for Asian-Americans accusing it of whitewashing the cast. Despite the criticism, he was nominated for Choice Movie Actor – Comedy at the 2015 Teen Choice Awards. In John Wells' drama Burnt, Cooper played a chef who decides to regain his former glory after his drug abuse takes a toll on his career. While the film was criticized for its "overdone clichés", Jon Frosch of The Hollywood Reporter wrote of Cooper's performance, "the actor gives a fully engaged performance that almost makes us want to forgive the movie's laziness. Almost". Cooper's supporting role in the biopic Joy reunited him with David O. Russell and Lawrence. In 2016, he had a voice cameo in the thriller 10 Cloverfield Lane, and played a supporting part in War Dogs. As of August 2016, Cooper will voice a dog in A Dog's Purpose and Rocket Raccoon in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. He will direct his first film and co-star with Lady Gaga in a remake of A Star is Born.
Cooper's early years in the entertainment industry were marred with difficulties. When his role in the second season of Alias was demoted to a minuscule one, he considered quitting show business: "I would only work three days a week [...] And then I got even more sidelined". His substance addiction and doubts about his career triggered thoughts of suicide. Cooper has abstained from alcohol since 2004, remarking that it would have "sabotaged" his life. He recalled in a 2012 interview with The Hollywood Reporter:
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 [...] [h]ospital with a sock of ice, waiting for them to stitch me up. 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.
In October 2006, Cooper became engaged to actress Jennifer Esposito. The couple married later that December when he was 32 and she was 35. In May 2007, Esposito filed for divorce that was finalized in November. Cooper has since said, "It was just something that happened. The good thing is, we both realized it. Sometimes you just realize it". Before his marriage, he met Renée Zellweger while filming Case 39 in 2006. The media speculated about the nature of their relationship in 2009. Although they refused to speak about the romance, they made several appearances together. In 2011, the media reported about the end of the relationship. He dated Zoe Saldana from December 2011 to January 2013, and Suki Waterhouse from March 2013 to March 2015. In April 2015, he began dating Russian model Irina Shayk.
Cooper shares a close relationship with his family. Two years after the death of his father from lung cancer in 2011, he relocated to Los Angeles with his mother. He says that during his father's diagnosis, "I was in a very lucky position because I was able to put everything on hold in all aspects of my life and completely focus on taking care of him". He has described the process of treatment as "just simply overwhelming, incredibly stressful, complex and all consuming". The actor has since supported organizations that help fight cancer. In April 2016, he participated in the launch of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy that works for cancer patients. He will serve as an executive producer for Stand Up to Cancer, a primetime fundraising special.
Cooper has donated to candidates of the Democratic Party and he attended the 2016 Democratic National Convention where Hillary Clinton received the nomination for President. He received backlash from conservatives for attending the convention. He was there to hear President Obama speak, whom he described as "an incredible president".
In the media
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- Bradley Cooper Faces Backlash for DNC Appearance Video – ABC News
- How Bradley Cooper Helped Save Obamacare | Vanity Fair
- Bradley Cooper joins Obama at mental health event | TheHill
- Bradley Cooper 'not expecting' backlash for attending DNC – CNNPolitics.com
- Bradley Cooper Doesn’t Get DNC Uproar: Obama Was ‘An Incredible President’ – The Daily Beast
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