By ANGELA DAWSON
Front Row Features
HOLLYWOOD—Hunky actor Bradley Cooper is self-confident, self-deprecating and can handle almost any question thrown at him except one: What’s it like to be called ‘The Sexiest Man Alive,’ as he was designated in 2011 by People magazine.
The typically quick-witted actor fumbles for the appropriate response for a few seconds seated before a roomful of journalists at the Beverly Hills Four Seasons Hotel.
“I mean, you know…it’s like…” he stammers.
His Paul Newman blue eyes gaze heavenward as though he is seeking some sort of divine intervention. He then turns to the questioner and smiles.
“Look, it was a very shocking,” says the very private actor. “I think maybe someone made a mistake but, yeah, it’s, you know, fun.”
Not that the tanned and model good looking Cooper needs a magazine cover to tell him that among today’s young Hollywood leading men, he’s the sexiest of them all. The star of “The Hangover” movies, “The A-Team” and “Wedding Crashers,” as well as a few forgettable romantic comedies (“All About Steve,” “Valentine’s Day”), is on a hot streak. Divorced —he was married for several months in 2006-07 to actress Jennifer Esposito—the tall blond actor has been romantically linked in the press with a number of Hollywood beauties, including Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Aniston and Renee Zellweger.
Though he’s mum about his personal life, the 37-year-old has a lot to say about his new dramatic role in “The Words,” in which he plays Rory Jansen, a novelist with writer’s block who, in a moment of desperation, passes off a found manuscript as his own, then has to face the consequences when the real author (played by Jeremy Irons) confronts him.
Cooper agreed to star in and executive produce the modestly budgeted movie and forego his usual multimillion fee as a favor to his grammar school chums Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal, who wrote and directed the film.
Front Row Features: What was your most frustrating or shocking denial or rejection experience as an actor and how did you overcome it?
Cooper: It was sort of the opposite. When I first started auditioning, I didn’t realize—and I’m not even kidding—that you actually could book a job. I remember after a week, I was hanging out with my friends and I got a couple of callbacks. I still remember when I booked (a guest starring appearance on) “Sex and the City,” I was very frightened because I had to actually do the job. I didn’t really understand the concept. So I came at it from another side where rejection was normal and getting (the gig) was odd.
Front Row Features: After your initial success, did you feel pressure for the next project?
Cooper: I remember Meryl Streep came to our school and said that the easiest thing is to do your first good movie, but then to do your second, that’s the hardest. She probably didn’t even say that. But, you know, I don’t really look at it that way. Thank you for asking that. Now I’m screwed. (He laughs.) I guess it depends where your goal is. If your goal is to just grow as an actor, then everything’s an opportunity, so that’s how I look at it. I don’t want to act or create a bubble. I care very much about how things are received and want them to be enjoyed but I don’t see anything more pressure than not.
Front Row Features: How do you play such a slime bag?
Cooper: In what movie? This one? Maybe I failed you (in “The Words”) because I don’t see Rory as a slime bag at all. I see Rory as a man who’s not really a man. He’s grappling with what it is to be a man and I think his Achilles heel is his impatience. That’s the thing that I really liked about the script. The hook for me was the fact that he actually is a good writer. He’s not a poor writer who’s just looking for any way to get success.
Front Row Features: How did you like working with Jeremy Irons? What was the first encounter like? Were you nervous?
Cooper: No, I think excitement superseded any nervousness. Sometimes you have a feeling about somebody and I don’t know if you’ve met him or not, but he is a very welcoming individual. Like a lot of great actors, they make you feel comfortable.
Front Row Features: Has there been an actor who made you nervous?
Cooper: I remember the most nervous I’ve ever been was to meet Christopher Walken during “Wedding Crashers,” (but) talk about a guy who puts you at ease! I mean, I just kind of fell in love with him, and the same thing with Robert De Niro. Jeremy Irons follows suit completely, and Liam Neeson. All these sort of icons that I’ve had the honor to work with have all had one thread, which is normalcy.
Front Row Features: What is the most emotionally demanding character you’ve ever worked on?
Cooper: Phil from “The Hangover.” (He laughs.) Probably “Silver Lining’s Playbook,” with (director) David O. Russell that’s coming out.
Front Row Features: Have you ever been in a situation where you felt that maybe somebody had ripped off something you did or that you were taking poetic license when it came to borrowing from someone else?
Cooper: I always feel like I’m taking from something when I’m doing something else. That’s part of creativity. I’m only using what I see and feel from the world I live in.
Front Row Features: How do you relate to Rory?
Cooper: I don’t really relate to Rory. I was like a pig in s*** working a graveyard shift (before becoming famous) and literally doing those auditions and getting callbacks It’s all relative, you know? But I did relate to the rejection aspect of it.
Front Row Features: Is it true you once wanted to be a chef?
Cooper: Yes! I love cooking. But I was more interested to play a chef than to be a chef. So I think that told me early on that acting was the way I wanted to go.
Front Row Features: Have you started “The Hangover 3?”
Cooper: Not yet. September 10, I think.
Front Row Features: You’re going to Las Vegas, right?
Cooper: That’s one of the places, yeah.
Front Row Features: How did you feel when “The Hangover” won a Golden Globe award for best comedy?
Cooper: We were over the moon that we got the Golden Globe win, which was just unthinkable when we were shooting (the movie), and I was pretending to fornicate with a tiger.
Front Row Features: Any qualms about returning to a character for the third time? Are there new things to discover about your character?
Cooper: Yeah. There are always new things to discover about Phil. I just got so lucky. (Director) Todd Phillips is, in my opinion, the best comedic director around and he’s a real filmmaker. And Zack (Galifianakis) and Ed (Helms) are incredible and Ken Jeong has just grown and grown. He’s a wonderful actor and we got great actors coming aboard this third one too so I can’t wait. I love Phil. I love that character.
Front Row Features: Will there be an “A-Team” sequel?
Cooper: No. I just don’t think Fox is going to make another one, but I loved making that movie. I love those guys, I love (director) Joe Carnahan, but it just didn’t do well enough.
Front Row Features: You work quite a bit.
Cooper: I do. I have 18 films opening. (He laughs.)