He’s in this cushy but familiar spot to discuss “Limitless,” the film that has finally elevated him to the role of marquee movie star and cast him opposite his idol, Robert De Niro. Yet, here he sits, revealing to a reporter that just last week, he considered quitting acting.
“Look, I’m very blessed, very lucky that I work . . . but that doesn’t mean this job’s easy,” Cooper continues, noting that getting passed over for a coveted part — he won’t say which — prompted the flicker of career angst. “I don’t find it easy. I find it very difficult. I find it hard to be an actor, because you have to deal with so much rejection.”
It’s hard to believe a guy like Bradley Cooper ever wrestles with self-doubt. For starters, just look at him. He exudes an effortless, golden-boy handsomeness, with eyes so crystalline Crayola should strongly consider naming a crayon after them.
And look at his career. After years of playing supporting roles in TV shows like “Alias” and movies like “Wedding Crashers,” Cooper’s moment appears to have arrived. Following the monumental box-office success of 2009’s “The Hangover” — in which he managed to be charming while simultaneously driving a cop car on a Las Vegas sidewalk and complimenting a woman’s cleavage — more Hollywood doors have started to swing open, including the doors that led to the lead in “Limitless.” The psychological thriller, which opens Friday, also gives Cooper, 36, his first executive producer credit.
In the film, Cooper has to carry virtually every scene as a struggling writer who takes a black-market drug that maximizes his brain power and quickly turns him into a wealthy, well-connected investment genius. Suffice it to say, that success comes with a price. And for Cooper, the role comes with an irony he seems keenly aware of: It took the Georgetown University graduate almost a decade to finally star as an overnight success.
“The bottom line is, if this movie doesn’t do well, it’s going to be very hard to get an opportunity to play another role like this,” he says.
Cooper, who describes himself as an optimist in life who always prepares for the worst in his career, may be cautiously hopeful. But others are confident.
“He’s going to continue to rise. He’s an amazing actor,” says James Lipton, dean emeritus of the Actors Studio Drama School at Pace University, where Cooper earned his MFA. Lipton also happens to be host of Bravo’s “Inside the Actors Studio,” which will feature Cooper in an emotional appearance Monday — the alumnus gets verklempt several times within the first 15 minutes alone — that marks the first time a graduate has become a guest on the show.
“He has already risen to the top fraction of a percent of American actors, and I don’t think there’s any way, short of turning into Charlie Sheen and self-destructing, that he will not continue to progress,” Lipton says.