The Dark Fields

THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE TO BRADLEY COOPER

December 12, 2012

In response to Sean’s amazing guide to Jennifer Lawrence, I have created the definitive guide to Bradley Cooper, currently Jennifer’s co-star in Silver Linings Playbook.

Silver Linings Playbook is a Big Moment for Bradley, one in which he is being taken really seriously as an actor for the very first time. The New York Times calls him “surprisingly effective” and “intensely focused.” Oscar buzz abounds. As Bradley’s career soars to new heights, let’s take a look back at where he started.

Sex and the City – “They Shoot Single People, Don’t They?” (1999)

Way back in 1999, a young Bradley played a one-night love interest for Carrie in this season 2 episode of good old SATC. They danced and canoodled, but she ultimately didn’t go home with him, because she’d just been unfairly represented on the cover of a magazine and was feelin down on herself. Poor Sarah Jessica.

Wet Hot American Summer (2001)

The fact that Bradley Cooper is in this movie is one of my favorite things about the world. The fact that he plays one half of a gay couple with Michael Ian Black, and that their marriage is officiated by Janeane Garofalo, is almost too good. AS IF THAT WEREN’T ENOUGH, Bradley’s character partners with Amy Poehler to direct the campers in a musical performance of “Day by Day” for the big talent show.

There’s nothing Bradley can do that will make me forget this. A million sequels to The Hangover can’t erase the magic of his participation in this movie.

Jack and Bobby (2004-2005)

From 2004 to 2005, Bradley was on this TV show about a future version of the Kennedy brothers. The show was on the WB network, which was, during this crucial season, starting to really sink (Wikipedia refers to this show as one of many “high profile failures” for them that year).

Despite its commercial failings, the show did get decent reviews. It also featured Bradley in all his glory, playing the TA to Jack and Bobby’s hot professor mom, and they were having an illicit affair. Obviously.

Wedding Crashers (2005)

This was Bradley’s first breakout role (the second, of course, breaking much bigger). But it was a huge hit, because it’s hilarious (I recommend that you re-watch it; it’s still good) and he had a major part in it. The problem, though, was that he played the villian, which made him slightly less attractive and thus not quite a mega movie star. Yet.

Alias (2001-2006)

In Alias, Bradley played Will Tippin, a dorky newspaper reporter with bleached blond hair. I didn’t watch this show, but my impression, honestly, is that he looks like a real dweeb. Seriously, look at his hair.

The Hangover (2009)

This movie was called The Hangover. It’s not possible that you haven’t heard of it, or that you didn’t notice that Bradley’s sweet schoolteacher with a bad boy vibe was incredibly hot. This was the ultimate breakout role: overnight, Bradley morphed from that guy who played Will Tippin in Alias and was the mean dude in Wedding Crashers into Bradley Cooper: Movie Star.

It was at this point that he gained extreme fame, but it was also the instant at which he ran the risk of becoming just the guy from The Hangover. It was a delicate moment, this one. Let’s see what he did next…

All About Steve (2009)

Luckily, this movie, which was shot before The Hangover, came out in the same year (The Hangover was in June; this bad boy appeared in September). Let’s stay grounded, everybody! This movie, which the New York Times called “grimly unfunny,” also garnered a Razzie award for “Worst Screen Couple” for Bradley and poor Sandra Bullock. Not his finest moment, but come on; when he was shooting this, he didn’t KNOW he was about to become hugely famous and have his pick of roles. He was a victim of timing. I forgive him.

Hit and Run (2012)

This is Dax Shepard’s movie. Why was Bradley in it? Who knows! But here he is, playing a robber who has dreads and wears terrible sunglasses. I am hopeful that Bradley and Dax are great friends and that Bradley has seen every episode of Parenthood (and cried at the end of each one – if you don’t watch that show and are looking for a good cry, get on board), and that he did the movie just for a chance to pal around with Dax and Kristen Bell. I think it’s unlikely that I’m wrong.

Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

The New York Times is right about this movie; it is very good, and Bradley is very good in it. Alongside Jennifer Lawrence, he delivers a piercing performance that doesn’t cut any corners. You can see him working hard in this movie, and while that may not be the sign of extreme talent, it does indicate extreme dedication, and it pays off.

Silver Linings Playbook is both funny and intense. Plus, it’s Christmas by the time the movie wraps up, so it leaves you feeling holiday-y, as we all want to feel at this time of year. I recommend it. And I’m happy for Bradley: he put in his time, and he deserves this shot. This kind of critical success will open many doors for him; who knows where he’ll go next!

(Hopefully, he will simply reprise his role from Wet Hot American Summer in a large variety of un-related films).

Enjoy Bradley all the way on Portable.

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