Cooper in 2009
|Born||Bradley Charles Cooper
January 5, 1975
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
|Residence||West Village, New York City|
|Alma mater||Georgetown University, B.A. 1997
The New School, MFA 2000
|Net worth||$30 million (March 2014 estimate)|
|Spouse(s)||Jennifer Esposito (m. 2006; div. 2007)|
Bradley Charles Cooper (born January 5, 1975) is an American actor and producer. He aspired to an acting career from a young age, and moved to New York City to enroll in the MFA program at the Actors Studio in 2000. His career began with a guest role in the television series Sex and the City in 1999 and his film debut came two years later in Wet Hot American Summer. He first gained recognition as Will Tippin 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).
Cooper's breakthrough role came in 2009 with the comedy The Hangover (2009), which spawned two successful sequels in 2011 and 2013. Critics praised his portrayal of a struggling writer in the thriller Limitless (2011) and a rookie police officer in the crime drama The Place Beyond the Pines (2012). He found greater success with the romantic comedy-drama Silver Linings Playbook (2012), the black comedy crime film American Hustle (2013), and the biopic American Sniper (2014). For these films, Cooper was nominated for four Academy Awards—Best Actor (Silver Linings Playbook and American Sniper), Best Supporting Actor (American Hustle), and Best Picture for the last of these. With this, Cooper became the tenth actor to receive an Oscar nomination in three consecutive years. In 2014, he portrayed Joseph Merrick in a Broadway revival of 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. Time magazine named him one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2015. Other honors include International Man of the Year by GQ and Sexiest Man Alive by People in 2011.
Bradley Charles Cooper was born on January 5, 1975 in Philadelphia, and grew up in the nearby communities of Jenkintown and Rydal. His mother, Gloria (née Campano), worked for the local NBC affiliate. His father, Charles Cooper, who died in January 2011, worked as a stockbroker for Merrill Lynch. His father was of Irish descent and his mother is of Italian ancestry (from Abruzzo and Naples). He has an older sister, Holly. He was raised Roman Catholic. Cooper had cholesteatoma in his ear soon after his birth and punctured it when he started diving at an early age.
Describing himself as a child, Cooper has said, "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—maybe because my mother would keep my hair really long". He excelled at basketball, and enjoyed 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 like The Elephant Man (1980), which "floored" him and he "became obsessed with it". It was the film that inspired him to be an actor. Cooper believes that the "acting gene" might have come from his father, whom he thinks was "such a goofball". His parents were initially unsure about his career choice. "[They] ideally, would have wanted me to do something in finance", he says. They eventually changed their perceptions when they saw Cooper play the part of John Merrick in an excerpt from the play The Elephant Man (1977).
While attending Germantown Academy, he worked at the Philadelphia Daily News. He says that in school he was neither "the smartest person" nor "the coolest kid" and "really didn't have anything going on!" 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 Bachelor of Arts 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. In his television debut, Sex and the City in 1999, he made a brief appearance opposite Sarah Jessica Parker. Cooper later served as a presenter in the travel-adventure series Globe Trekker (2000), which took him to such places as Peru and Croatia.
Cooper initially wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy when he auditioned for the master class graduate degree at Actors Studio and was selected by James Lipton. In 2000, he received a Master of Fine Arts degree in acting from Actors Studio Drama School at The New School in New York City. There, he trained with the coach Elizabeth Kemp of whom he says, "I was never able to relax in my life before her". She has since advised him on many of his films. While studying in New York City, Cooper worked as a doorman at the Morgans Hotel. During his studies at The Actors Studio, Cooper also once had briefly interacted with Robert de Niro in a question and answer master class session, which was later featured in an episode of Inside the Actors Studio.
Early roles (2001–08)
Cooper's cinematic debut came in the ensemble comedy Wet Hot American Summer (2001), a film 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. He filmed all of his scenes on the last day of the series' production in February 2015. The series received positive reviews from critics.
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). Garner was one of the first people he met in Los Angeles and was, in Cooper's words, "very maternal ... She wanted to take care of me, make sure I was okay all the time". He 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 in the short-lived TV series Miss Match and played the part of cowboy and race horse trainer Morgan Murphy in the television film The Last Cowboy, which aired on the Hallmark Channel in January 2003. He later appeared in the 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 plays Sack Lodge, the arrogant and aggressive boyfriend of Claire (McAdams) who is obsessed with winning—a role he describes as "kind of a sociopath". Cooper believed that the antagonistic character 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 due to low ratings.
In March 2006, he starred as Pip/Theo in Three Days of Rain on Broadway with Julia Roberts and Paul Rudd. This followed with an appearance in the film Failure to Launch as a friend of the film's protagonist (played by Matthew McConaughey) and on stage in the 2008 production of Theresa Rebeck's play The Understudy at the Williamstown Theatre Festival alongside Kristen Johnston. Cooper next appeared in the fifth season of Nip/Tuck (2007) as Aidan Stone, a television star on the fictional show Hearts 'N Scalpels, and played the best friend to the main character in the 2008 comedies Yes Man and The Rocker. After a series of small roles, Cooper landed the lead role in the Ryuhei Kitamura-directed feature The Midnight Meat Train (2008) The supernatural horror film is based on 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 comedic roles, and he admitted to enjoying the experience. The Midnight Meat Train received positive reviews from critics, though it earned little at the box office.
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 in 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 Hangover was a commercial success and finished as the fifth-highest-grossing R-rated film in the United States. 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, "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 earned the part 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 workouts. 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. In the Neil Burger-directed film, he plays a struggling writer who is introduced to a nootropic drug 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". Greater commercial success followed 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, though 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.
The year 2012 saw Cooper star in four films—The Words, Hit and Run, The Place Beyond the Pines and Silver Linings Playbook. The mystery drama The Words failed commercially; as did the action comedy Hit and Run. In Derek Cianfrance's critically acclaimed crime drama The Place Beyond the Pines, Cooper plays 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 divorced man with bipolar disorder, a former teacher 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 demonstrate emotion and vulnerability on screen. 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. 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 generally praised by critics, however; 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. He returned to Broadway for the 2014 run of The Elephant Man as the severely deformed Joseph Merrick. Michael Coveney of Whatsonstage.com reviewed his performance: "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 directed by 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) of muscles. 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". Similar sentiments were expressed by USA Today's Claudia Puig who asserted, "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 for acting in three consecutive years.[a]
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". His 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 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 part, 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. In a 2012 interview with The Hollywood Reporter, he recalled his struggle with alcohol:
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. "It was just something that happened. The good thing is, we both realized it. Sometimes you just realize it", he has since explained. Before his marriage, he met Renée Zellweger while filming Case 39 in 2006. The media speculated about the nature of their relationship in 2009 when the film was released. Although they refused to speak about the romance, they made several appearances together. In 2011, the media reported about the end of the relationship. In December 2011, he was involved in a romantic relationship with Zoe Saldana that ended in January 2013. In March 2013, he began dating English model Suki Waterhouse who is 17 years his junior. According to a report by E!, they broke up in March 2015 because of their age disparity and Waterhouse wanting to focus on her career. Cooper began a relationship with Russian model Irina Shayk the following month. He later moved to West Village, New York City in her apartment in November.
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 his treatment as "just simply overwhelming, incredibly stressful, complex and all consuming". The actor has since supported organizations that help fight cancer. In June 2014, Cooper joined board of directors for the charity Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, a non-profit organization that serves people coping with 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 scheduled to air in September.
In 2009, Cooper took part in an Alzheimer's Association campaign that aimed to increase awareness on Alzheimer's disease. He is also one of the members of Alzheimer's Association Celebrity Champions, an initiative launched for a similar purpose. In 2015, Cooper spoke at The National Geographic Society for the group Got Your 6 to help ensure military veterans are better represented through popular culture. Cooper has donated to candidates of the Democratic Party and attended the 2016 Democratic National Convention where Hillary Clinton received the nomination for President. He was present during a Barack Obama speech, whom he describes as "an incredible president".
In the media
Todd Phillips (the director of The Hangover Trilogy) believes that Cooper's on-screen persona contradicts with his personality. "He is ridiculously different in real life. He is very vulnerable — insecure is not the right word ... And there's a warmth to him you would never know." A writer for International Business Times adds that Cooper, despite being in his 40s, has a "boyish charm and laid-back personality". Cooper believes that his personality relates to acting: "I enjoy people, that makes this profession a lot easier, and I can sleep anywhere. That's a skill." He cites actor Daniel Day-Lewis as an influence, whom he thinks is "the World's Greatest Actor".
As a part of a career analysis, IndieWire's Oliver Lyttelton notes that early in his career, Cooper was typecast as "weaselly boyfriends or best friends in mainstream comedies", but he later established himself as a leading actor of Hollywood after the success of The Hangover (2009), Limitless (2011), Silver Linings Playbook (2012), The Place Beyond The Pines (2012), American Hustle (2013) and Guardians of the Galaxy (2014). Cooper is known for appearing in a range of films; writing for The Hollywood Reporter, Bill Phelps credits him for "opt[ing] for the challenging and provocative, the small and interesting, risking the laid-back image that propelled him to fame". The Daily Beast's Oliver Lyttelton agrees, remarking, "Cooper ... regularly ventures outside his grinning-stud comfort zone by taking on roles that, on the surface, might not necessarily seem like perfect matches". Time magazine writes of Cooper's craft, "It's hard to make people, especially your friends, forget who you are onscreen. But Bradley's that good".
Cooper's sex appeal has been picked up by several media outlets, including People that named him Sexiest Man Alive in 2011. He was initially uncomfortable with the accolade, but later found it funny. Also in 2011, he was dubbed "International Man of the Year" by GQ and appeared in AskMen's 49 most influential men. He ranked tenth on Empire's list of the 100 Sexiest Movie Stars in 2013. He was one of the highest-paid actors in the world from 2013 to 2015, earning $28 million, $46 million and $41.5 million, respectively. Forbes ranked him first on their Celebrity 100: Ones To Watch list in 2013. The following year, MTV News estimated Cooper's net worth to be $30 million. Time magazine named him one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2015.
Works and awards
According to the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes and box-office website Box Office Mojo, Cooper's most critically and commercially successful films include Wedding Crashers (2005), The Hangover (2009), Limitless (2011), Silver Linings Playbook (2012), American Hustle (2013), Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) and American Sniper (2014). Among his stage roles, he has appeared in a Broadway revival of The Elephant Man (2014–15), for which he was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play.
Cooper is one of the ten men to receive an Academy Award nomination for acting in three consecutive years.[a] From 2013–15, he was nominated for Best Actor (for Silver Linings Playbook and American Sniper) and Best Supporting Actor (for American Hustle); as co-producer of American Sniper, he also received a Best Picture nomination. He has also been nominated for two British Academy Film Awards: Best Actor in a Leading Role for Silver Linings Playbook and Best Actor in a Supporting Role for American Hustle, and two Golden Globe Awards: Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy for Silver Linings Playbook and Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture for American Hustle.
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