To me, 2012 in film marked a year in which a number of actors revealed to the world that they could really, well, act. For example, prior to Silver Linings Playbook, Bradley Cooper was best known for his good looks and starring in comedies like The Hangover movies and Wedding Crashers and romantic comedies. But Cooper proved his chops in Silver Linings Playbook and was even nominated for an Oscar. He spoke about that experience, surprising people, and surrounding himself with people he can trust to Details magazine.
Cooper spoke at length about his Oscar nomination, saying, “That whole experience was fun and amazing, but I try not to get too carried away with that stuff. And maybe if you start feeling a little too big for your britches, hop on the Internet and take a look at some message boards for five seconds. It’s not something I do often, but if you do, it’ll take you right back down. Oh, my God. First of all, let’s be honest: It’s incredibly narcissistic to do that. And masochistic. You want to feel shitty about yourself? Boom—it’s easy. To me, this business is the ultimate humbling experience. You’re constantly dealing with rejection. My journey has not been people kissing my ass.”
Nonetheless, being nominated alongside previous winners like Daniel Day-Lewis and Denzel Washington was exciting, but that also more-or-less confirmed to Cooper that he wouldn’t win. That is, until Oscar night. He explains, “That was surreal. Of course I knew I wasn’t going to win. But something pretty funny happens on the actual night. Even though I knew there was no chance I’d win, the millisecond in between when they open the envelope and they say the name, your brain goes, ‘Wait a minute. It could happen. It’s possible. A one-in-five chance, right?’ And that’s the moment when they have your face on camera. And all of a sudden, you’re dealing with the fact that you didn’t get something that you knew you weren’t going to get in the first place. And that reaction shot—I mean, that camera is right there in your face.”
However, Cooper was probably most surprised by the people who considered him an acting lightweight before his nomination. He points out, “I never thought about it until I got nominated and then so many people were like, ‘What the fuck?’ I had no idea how many people didn’t think I was really an actor. That surprised me. To me, I look at that guy in The Hangover, and that’s a full character that I worked on with the director to fit the story. Just like Sack Lodge in Wedding Crashers. So I’m creating characters that I think are full and rich, and everyone thought I was that guy. People must have thought I was that dude—this cocky asshole of a guy. But that’s what people had to go on. I’m somebody who likes to know everything. Acting and moviemaking are an art form, sure, but it’s also my business. This is how I make my living. I want and need to know all the bad shit. So I surround myself with people who are honest with me.”