With charming movie star looks and mountains of charisma, Bradley Cooper is one of Hollywood’s current leading men, with both comedic and dramatic turns in some of the millennium’s biggest box office hits. As he continues to grow into an even greater actor, he has expanded his empire as a producer and writer, with several Academy Award nominations under his belt.
Bradley Cooper grew up in the Philadelphia suburbs of Jenkintown and Rydal with mother Gloria Campano, a local NBC employee, father Charles Cooper, a stockbroker at Merrill Lynch, and his older sister Holly. With Irish lineage from his father’s side and Italian on his mother’s side, he was raised in a Roman Catholic home.
As a child, Cooper had aspirations to be a chef, often cooking for his classmates. After seeing the film The Elephant Man, he switched his passions to becoming an actor, eventually persuading his parents to support his endeavor after he performed an excerpt from the play The Elephant Man. While growing up in Philadelphia, he attended Germantown Academy and worked for the Philadelphia Daily News. Self-described as ‘average’, Cooper graduated from school in 1993, attending Villanova University for a year before eventually transferring to Georgetown University and receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in English in 1997. While at Georgetown, he was a member of the rowing team and acted with the Nomadic Theatre. He achieved fluency in French after spending six months as an exchange student in Aix-en-Provence, France.
After briefly considering a degree in diplomacy, Cooper auditioned for the graduate degree program at the Actor’s Studio and received an invitation by James Lipton. While attending The New School in New York City, he worked as a doorman at Morgans Hotel and was featured on Inside the Actors Studio during a Q&A session with Oscar winner Robert DeNiro. In 2000, he graduated from the Actors Studio Drama School with a Master of Fine Arts degree and began working in the industry with bit parts.
The first television appearance Cooper made was on the HBO hit series Sex and the City, opposite Sarah Jessica Parker. His next film took him to the countries of Croatia and Peru in the adventure series Globe Trekker, in 2000. Up next was his film debut in Wet Hot American Summer in 2001, where he portrayed a counselor and love interest to Michael Ian Black’s character, which became a cult classic years later. The series Alias ran from 2001 to 2006, and in it Cooper played the best friend of Sydney Bristow, played by Jennifer Garner. While appearing on the hit ABC show, he appeared on the silver screen in Changing Lanes and Bending All the Rules, in addition to other television shows as a guest star in The Last Cowboy, I Want to Marry Ryan Banks, and the WB series Jack & Bobby in 2005.
In 2005, Cooper began to raise his profile in Hollywood with a role in Wedding Crashers with Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, and Vince Vaughn, playing the alpha boyfriend to McAdams’ character. The summer movie became a summer blockbuster, raking in over $285 million worldwide. In March 2006, he next starred in the Broadway show Three Days of Rain opposite Julia Roberts and Paul Rudd as Pip/Theo. He followed up this project with more television appearances in Nip/Tuck in 2007 and Hearts ‘N Scalpels.
Cooper was the host in February 2009 for Saturday Night Live, later filming a supporting role in He’s Just Not That Into You. His next role, The Hangover, is considered his breakout role as Phil Wenneck, one of four buddies involved in a wild night in Las Vegas. The movie became one of the biggest R-rated movies in history, with Cooper nominated for an MTV Movie Award for Best Comedic Performance. His next movie, All About Steve, starring with Sandra Bullock, was a box office bomb however and failed to attract an audience. After a small role in the film New York, I Love You in 2009, he next appeared in Valentine’s Day, The A-Team, and Limitless, all box office hits. In 2011, he starred in The Hangover II, an even bigger hit, and then appeared in four more films in 2012, including the hit Silver Linings Playbook, starring alongside Robert DeNiro and Jennifer Lawrence. His performance was critically lauded, garnering Cooper an MTV Award for Best Performance, as well as nominations at the Oscars, Golden Globe Awards, and SAG Awards for Best Actor.
In 2012, Cooper appeared in the last installment of the series, Hangover III, then followed it with another David O’Russell film, American Hustle, appearing alongside Jennifer Lawrence, Jeremy Renner, and Amy Adams. His performance garnered more nominations: Academy Award, Golden Globe Award, and Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. In 2014, he appeared in the Clint Eastwood-directed film American Sniper, which became an international hit with over half a billion earned and more nominations for the actor, becoming only the tenth actor in history to receive three nominations in a row.
2015 was a low for the actor as all of his films released – Aloha, Burnt and Joy – all underperformed at the box office. He appeared in the sequel, Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp on Netflix, then filmed a cameo voiceover in the underground hit 10 Cloverfield Lane and Rocket Raccoon in Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2. His next feature is set to be alongside Lady Gaga in A Star Is Born in 2018.
Known for his boyish charm and movie star looks, Cooper is considered by many to be the personification of Hollywood’s new millennial actor, with equal parts vulnerability as well as charm and sex appeal. The actor cites Daniel Day-Lewis as the greatest acting influence on his life. His sex appeal was cemented when named ‘Sexiest Man Alive’ by People magazine in 2011, a title he personally found funny. As one of the world’s highest paid entertainers with rankings on Forbes, Celebrity 100 and Time magazine.
The reclusive star received considerable attention when his role on Alias was demoted to next to nothing and resulted in his descent into substance abuse and thoughts of suicide. His love life also became a interest for the press, starting with his engagement and marriage to actress Jennifer Esposito in 2006. Shortly thereafter, the pair announced their divorce, finalizing it in May of 2007. Next, Cooper was linked to actress Renee Zellweger, from 2006 until 2011, when he was then linked with actress Zoe Saldana. After dating Saldana through to 2013, he was romantically involved with model Suki Waterhouse and became known as a member of Hollywood’s ‘P*ssy Posse’ alongside actor Leonardo DiCaprio. Blaming the age gap between them, Waterhouse and Cooper went their separate ways and he quickly began a relationship with Russian model Irina Shayk, In November 2016, she moved into his NYC apartment and became pregnant with his first child.
In 2009, Cooper and his family personally battled lung cancer when his father was diagnosed, ultimately passing away in 2011. He participated in the Alzheimer’s Association and in 2016 helped to launch the Parker Institute for cancer Immunotherapy for patients. Politically, he has donated to the candidacies of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
- Bradley Cooper: Limitless Beyond Time – The Whirlwind Life of an Ultimate Leading Man by Cassey Wakefield
Written by: Triston Brewer