BRADLEY'S BEST EVER HANGOVER
He's served his time on the bit-part circuit -- but now it seems that The Hangover is heralding a brand new dawn for Bradley Cooper, as he meets James Mottram
Bradley Cooper has a hungry look in his eye; that of an actor who knows his time has come even if he can't quite admit it yet. "I'm so used to working just to work," he says, "and taking whatever comes." Like most actors, he's also highly superstitious. "I remember the first year I acted, I did five bits on TV shows. I called all my friends to watch, and each one, they cut all my stuff out! So after that, I thought, 'I'm never going to say anything'." Still, after 10 years of such thankless toil in the industry -- taking small roles in Nip/Tuck and Alias along the way -- all that's about to change.
No question, the last 12 months have been a breakout time for the 34-year-old Cooper. Featuring in the Jim Carrey movie Yes Man and romantic drivel He's Just Not That into You, he is the de facto star of The Hangover, now hitting DVD after becoming the most profitable R-rated comedy in Hollywood history. Made for just $35m, this smart story of four guys on an out-of-control stag party in Las Vegas took $459m around the world. "That's testament to Warner Brothers," enthuses Cooper. "They marketed the shit out of this movie! They didn't have to. It wasn't like it cost a lot to make. There were no big stars at all."
While that's true, Cooper now looks like one of Hollywood's brightest prospects. With three films due by March, he is then set to appear in one of the most-anticipated remakes in years -- The A-Team, based on the 1980s TV show about a quartet of kind-hearted Vietnam veterans on the run from the military. "I'm amazed at how popular it is," says Cooper.
Naturally, the story has been updated -- so now the four ex-soldiers have returned from the Iraq war. Liam Neeson is Hannibal, mixed martial arts fighter Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson takes on the role of BA and District 9 star Sharlto Copley will be the unhinged helicopter pilot 'Howling Mad' Murdock. Which leaves Cooper as Templeton "Faceman" Peck, the handsome devil of the gang originally played by Dirk Benedict. Given, with his five-day stubble and dirty-blonde locks, Cooper is not so shabby in the looks department, I wonder if he'd ever been compared to Benedict. "No!" he cries. "Me and Liam, we're like the ugly versions of those two guys. It's true if you think about it."
With the story revolving around the pursuit of the A-Team by a female US army general (Jessica Biel), who just happens to be a former flame of the Faceman, Cooper promises this will be a "grittier version" of the original TV series. "Joe Carnahan is directing it," he explains. "His film Narc definitely made a huge impact in the industry. He's really got a great eye. He'll make a really interesting, gritty film. And Liam Neeson as Hannibal will be incredible."
Cooper's casting as a ladies' man comes after a year of rumours linking him to just about every eligible lady in Hollywood. After splitting from his actress wife, Jennifer Esposito, in 2007, after just 10 months of marriage, he became a darling of the US tabloids when he was spied on a date with Jennifer Aniston.
But rather echoing the sentiment of the film they starred in together, He's Just Not That Into You, he then ditched her for Renee Zellweger, reportedly leaving Aniston upset.
Cooper met the Bridget Jones star on Case 39, a long-delayed thriller about a social worker fighting to save a young girl that is receiving a belated release in the here in March. "It's actually good," says Cooper. He sounds convinced, at least, even if the studio evidently isn't. Does it bother him when films get shelved? "Less and less the older I get. I'm used to it. The basic objective is to enjoy the experience while I'm doing it and everything after that is out of my control." So was the experience good here? "Very much so. I got to know Renee, who I really like very much," he replies, a little sheepishly. The couple have reportedly just bought a $4m house in the Hollywood hills.
Before Case 39, Cooper will be seen in the title role of All About Steve, a nutty Sandra Bullock comedy in which she plays an eccentric crossword puzzle addict who becomes convinced that a CNN cameraman is her true love. "I shot that movie three years ago. I'll look like a little baby when it comes out," says Cooper.
Completing his glut of films this year is Valentine's Day, a LA-set ensemble about a series of couples whose lives interweave over one particular February 14. Starring alongside Julia Roberts, Anne Hathaway and Jennifer Garner, Cooper plays a gay man. Having played a camp gay counsellor in 2001 comedy Wet Hot American Summer, the actor's sexuality has frequently been questioned. Not that he cares, recalling a time he and a friend, Broadway star Victor Garber, turned up to an event together. "People thought we were dating. It was all over the internet. It was the first time I read a rumour like that about me, and I just thought it was fantastic."
All in all, it seems The A-Team star is ready for the A-list. But does he feel like he's on the cusp of greatness? "I have no idea," he shrugs. "If you have delusions of grandeur, then you're really screwed. I try to just take it day by day. Who knows what will happen tomorrow?"