One in an occasional series about the stars with a cause who come to Washington in search of a megaphone. Friday’s visitor: Bradley Cooper.
Venue: A panel discussion/press conference at the Center for American Progress.
Purpose: A discussion on removing stigmas and improving services for the mentally ill.
Bona fides: Oscar-nominated star of “Silver Linings Playbook”, a best-picture nominee about a man grappling with bipolar disease.
Backup: Former Rep. Patrick Kennedy; Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.); Andrew Sperling of National Alliance on Mental Illness; Barbara Van Dahlen of Give An Hour; CAP policy wonks.
What he wants: To raise awareness of mental illness. The “only open to press” event did not correspond with a legislative push, though Cooper screened the film at Walter Reed and led a discussion with vets Thursday.
How he looked: Dark suit, dark tie. Hair slightly long and darker than usual but slicked back.
How he sounded: Engaged but modest, deferential to the experts. “I’m here by accident,” owing to his movie role, he said.
Observation: Was this all about using a star to promote a cause — or using a cause to promote a “Silver Linings” Oscar campaign? The invisible hand of media-savvy executive producer Harvey Weinstein seems to be at work in Cooper’s last-minute advocacy blitz, a week before ballots go to Academy members. But the mental-health professionals seemed thrilled with the turnout (about 100 people spilling out of the room) and the media exposure.
Soundbite: “I can see myself in a situation like that,” he said, referring to his movie character, “a guy who thought he had his life together” only to see it go off the rails.
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