Sober Bradley Cooper Attempts a Serious Oscar Push with A Star is Born


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He’s crashed weddings, recovered from hangovers, hustled America’s financial game, and sniped America’s sworn enemies. There’s simply not much left for Bradley Cooper to accomplish as an actor. Yes, it’s true that Cooper hasn’t yet landed the elusive solo Oscar; however, he was nominated in three consecutive years (2015-2018), an honor only ten actors on the face of the planet can lay claim to.

In 2018, Cooper will join another elite club: major actors who’ve gone on to become directors. When A Star is Born releases in 2018, Cooper will enter the ranks of Mel Gibson, Kevin Costner, and Clint Eastwood: big-budget stars who stepped to the other side of the camera. In fact, Eastwood was signed on early to direct the film, which features Lady Gaga as Ally, an emerging star trying to navigate the pitfalls of young fame. She’s aided in her quest by another star moving in the opposite direction; Cooper will play the role of Jackson Maine, an alcoholic star in career decline

It’s not a new story; indeed, Cooper’s version will be the fourth iteration of A Star is Born. The story was originally filmed in 1937 and recreated in 1954 with Judy Garland. It entered modern consciousness through the 1976 version, starring Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson; the obvious challenge for Cooper as director is how to tell a familiar story in a way that resonates with modern audiences.

Bradly Cooper has some experience with how unique familiar stories can be, though. Like 23.5 million other Americans, he’s in recovery. According to a 2012 Hollywood Reporter piece, Cooper’s rock bottom literally involved rocks—specifically, concrete. “I was at a party and deliberately bashed my head on the concrete floor — like, ‘Hey, look how tough I am! I spent the night at St. Vincent’s Hospital with a sock of ice, waiting for them to stitch me up.”

That episode occurred when he was still a B-list actor, clawing for minor roles like his turn in Wedding Crashers. He was only 29, still years ahead of the fame and fortune that followed his superstar turn in The Hangover; ironically, Cooper might never have been able to effectively play such an out-of-control character if he hadn’t learned earlier how to manage his own addictions.

Movie audiences are certainly glad Cooper did, though; The Hangover turned Cooper into an international sensation overnight; since then, he’s leveraged his star power into turns in Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle, Guardians of the Galaxy, American Sniper, and War Dogs.

Now he turns his attention to directing; the industry seems to have confidence in Cooper’s potential. The cast assembled for A Star is Born is remarkable: Gaga, Chappelle, Sam Elliott, and Andrew Dice Clay have all signed on in supporting roles.

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