For many the grueling, six month awards season is a blessing and a curse. It’s great to be nominated but the marathon race takes its toll on the contenders who might be crawling to the finish line after being on the circuit for such a protracted period of time. But that’s not the case for Bradley Cooper. It seems like he just got off the awards whirlwind after being nominated for everything in sight including an Oscar for last season’s Silver Linings Playbook, but he’s back with a vengeance with American Hustle for which his role as the innocent and somewhat loopy FBI agent Richie DiMaso has already been nominated for a Golden Globe and Critics Choice Movie Award, as well as a SAG Cast award along with co-stars Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Jennifer Lawrence and Jeremy Renner among others. And there’s Oscar buzz again, this time in supporting rather than lead. So is he really happy to be going through all of this craziness again so soon? You bet. “If I am lucky enough to be a part of it, yes. I am excited. Last year was amazing. I loved it. Maybe it’s because I still have a sort of innocent love of movies but to be in these rooms with these actors who I admire, I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my time. I really love it,” he said when he called me from France this week. Cooper is having a little R and R as he says in Paris (“my favorite place for sure”) after wrapping Cameron Crowe’s untitled new film in Hawaii right before Christmas. He’ll be back in the States this weekend for the Palm Springs International Film Festival when the Hustle cast receives the award for outstanding ensemble. And then next week it’s the Globes, CCMAs , SAG and on and on.
Hustle, like Silver Linings, was directed by David O. Russell and Cooper considers their collaboration a full partnership. He also serves as an Executive Producer on the film which has already grossed over $70 million domestically, won the New York Film Critics Award for Best Picture and has so far racked up Best Picture nominations at the Globes, CCMAs and the PGA as well as landing on AFI’s top 10 film list. Did he see it coming so soon after the success of Silver Linings? “The thing I’ve learned is that if you expect anything you’re a fool. But I did love the movie. We were so excited about it. We definitely did hope that it would catch on. And like Silver Linings the biggest promoter of the film is the film itself, ” he said adding he is especially happy for Russell. “He would be the first to say he hit his stride with The Fighter. It’s almost as these three films are linked together. And he’s just in that place of knowing exactly the kinds of movies he wants to make and he’s found like-minded actors who get his sensibility. I’m lucky enough to have met him for Silver Linings. I feel like we’ve been working together straight for three years even though I did two other films. We were in post for Silver Linings Playbook last year and during awards season also prepping for this movie. And then the Oscars happened and literally the next day we got on a plane and flew to Boston where we were in prep. And being able to be the Executive Producer on both movies I was able to be in the editing room with him. It’s been like film school, really,” he said.
Cooper really enjoyed playing Di Maso , a terrific comic creation and different sort of FBI agent than is usually seen in movies. Although the film is very loosely based on the FBI stings aka the Abscam scandal of the late 70’s, the characters in the script Russell re-wrote (from Eric Singer’s more straight-forward original) were brand new creations. It was important to Cooper and Russell that the character be as colorful as the main guy, as textured and complicated. “That’s where we started. It just sort of built and built and all of a sudden we just sort of felt we met this Richie DiMaso character who was very clearly locked into his childlike entity, basically like a 15-year old adolescent kid who wants to hang out with the cool kids and has big ambitions but doesn’t have the maturity to deal with it. And that’s where this guy is. He’s still very innocent. I loved playing him. I think it’s the most fun I had to date for sure playing a character and I have gotten to play some wonderful characters,” he says adding some of the character traits even come from his own life such as Richie’s habit of chewing his tongue. He also spent two and a half hours a day in pink curlers (as he’s seen in one scene in the movie as well) under an old-style hair dryer.” It was crazy. I definitely have more sympathy for those who are in the make-up or hair trailer for a longer time. Usually I get in and out. I was there longer than anybody which is hard to believe considering how everyone looks in this movie,” he laughed. The film’s make- up and hair stylist team are among the seven finalists already named in that Oscar category.
As for his future films post-Russell he enjoyed doing the Crowe picture which he says has a great cast including Alec Baldwin, Bill Murray, Emma Stone, Rachel McAdams and many others. Next he goes into American Sniper, a true story which starts shooting April 1st under Clint Eastwood’s direction. He starts training on Monday for the demanding role of the late Navy Seal Chris Kyle, known as the most lethal sniper in American history. It requires an entirely different physical transformation. “If you do see me during awards season don’t be surprised if I start to gain a lot of weight and my hair turns red. There’s nothing wrong with me so don’t worry,” he laughed. Steven Spielberg was initially attached to the project being produced by Cooper’s company, but the actor says for whatever reason his deal did not go through, so he’s thrilled Eastwood came on board. And after that it appears Cooper is going to be doing The Elephant Man on Broadway in the Fall. He had previously done the role for his thesis in grad school and then a couple of summers ago in Williamstown with no idea that it would lead to Broadway but that’s the way it is working out, he says. There’s also another film in the can, Serena, with Lawrence, his Silver Linings and Hustle co-star. He’s not sure when it will be released but says it is in the final stages of completion by Oscar-winning Danish director Susanne Bier. It was shot before Hustle.
Busy guy, but not too busy for yet another awards season go-round. Actors should have these kinds of problems.