Bradley Cooper will be the first to dismiss the notion that he’s sexy. Having made one-off appearances in series like Sex and the City and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, as well as being part of the comedic ensemble of David Wain’s cult fave Wet Hot American Summer, Cooper was never hired on the basis of looks, or that he was love interest material. In an interview with Matt Lauer of The Today Show from January, 2015, Cooper insisted when he was cast as Will Tippin on J.J. Abrams’s spy series Alias, he was merely occupying the sidekick, best friend role. It wasn’t until the release of 2009’s The Hangover that people (women, especially) started noticing Cooper’s blue eyes and winning smile.
“The ‘first thing I thought,’ [Cooper] says, ‘was, “My mother is going to be so happy.” ‘ “
Since the success of the Hangover trilogy, Bradley Cooper has been smart in projects selected in an effort to show he’s more than a pretty face. In David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook, he played a character with bipolar disorder who pines for his estranged wife. A year later, Cooper and Russell would re-team on American Hustle, with Cooper sporting a jheri curl — which is far from sexiest man material.
As the deadliest marine sniper in U.S. history, Chris Kyle, Bradley Cooper gained forty pounds of muscle for his role in Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper. It is a role he has defined as being life changing to his career as an actor.
Well known for what he can do in movies and on the small screen, what most don’t know about Cooper is his love of performing on stage. More than a decade after receiving his MFA in acting from the Actors Studio Drama School in New York, he has returned to the Big Apple to star in The Elephant Man. Bernard Pomerance’s 1977 historical drama was Cooper’s master’s thesis, and he starred in a production as part of the Williamstown Theatre Festival (in Williamstown, Massachusetts) back in 2012.
Based on the life of Joseph Merrick, who was a carnival attraction during the Victorian era and known for his face and torso deformities, the play originated with actor David Schofield. Prior to Cooper’s starring, subsequent productions were headlined by the likes of David Bowie and Mark Hamill.
What is notable about the stage play is that no prosthetic makeup is used on the actor portraying Merrick; the actor uses his own physicality in letting the audience imagine Merrick’s appearance.
Elisabeth Vincentelli, in her review for the New York Post, couldn’t help but appreciate Bradley Cooper’s performance.
“Cooper wisely underplays as much as possible, considering the role’s demands: limping around the stage, nearly gurgling his speech. He guides us into Merrick’s thoughts and feelings, giving him unsinkable dignity. Eventually, everybody sees reflections of themselves in the Elephant Man.”
[Image credited to Joan Marcus/Press art via New York Post]