LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Bradley Cooper may be best known for his role in the hugely successful comedy franchise “The Hangover,” but the American actor is gaining positive reviews for his role as a bipolar former teacher in “Silver Linings Playbook.”
In the film, which will be released on Friday and won the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival, Cooper plays Pat Solitano, who has just been released from a mental institution and is trying to put his life back together.
Directed by David O. Russell and based on the novel by Matthew Quick, “Silver Linings” sees Cooper’s character move back home with his parents, played by Robert DeNiro and Jacki Weaver, with hopes of reconciling with his ex-wife. Things get complicated when an abrasive widow, actress Jennifer Lawrence, enters the picture.
Cooper, who is shooting a third installment of the “Hangover” films, spoke to Reuters about his role, why it is unlike anything he has done and what he thinks of all the Oscar talk.
Q: You were born and raised in Philadelphia. Did you use your childhood experiences growing up there to create the character?
A: I upped the Philadelphia accent a little bit. Everything about it is where I come from. So yeah, I was able to mine what I’d grown up with. For example, Lenny Roberts was a guy in high school that dressed like the way we decided Pat would dress like. And my grandfather had an art deco face of Christ on a necklace, which we made Pat wear.
Q: Is this the first time you’ve played a character from your home state?
A: It’s funny because when I was doing the role I thought, I don’t know how I‘m going to be able to pull this off. We were shooting one day and my mother was (visiting the set). We had just shot a really demented scene and she said, “Oh my God, Bradley, it’s like you’re not even acting!” I thought, “What do you mean, that Pat Solitano is me?”
Q: The film deals with mental illness, yet there are a lot of laugh-out-loud moments. Was it a fine line straddling the two?
A: Well, any traumatic event that’s happened in my life was riddled with comedic circumstances, from my father’s death (in 2011) and everything. Any great tragedy has a lot of humor in it. So it wasn’t that hard, really. If you play it real, comedy will come, especially if you’re playing extreme situations with an extreme character, but playing it real.
Q: You’re primarily known for your work in comedies like “The Hangover” franchise and action films like “Limitless.” Is this role unlike anything you’ve portrayed before?
A: On film, for sure. No question about it. This character has to go from A to Z in the emotional landscape, which is heaven for an actor. I’ve never been able to do these kinds of things on film, so it was a huge opportunity.
Q: What kinds of things are you referring to?
A: To play a character that’s telling the viewer the story - right there that’s an honor to be able to take on that responsibility. Secondly, to play a character who is emotionally colorful and dynamic. Pat Solitano has no filter, for example. To get under that skin, to play somebody who has a trigger and can create an emotional response outside the box, that’s very gratifying. Because you get to explore a lot of things in yourself with your imagination that you never get - that I don’t normally get to do.
Q: Do you feel typecast by Hollywood as a particular type of actor that only does certain genres?
A: I don’t feel that. I do theater so I’ve always felt fulfilled in the acting jobs I’ve gotten. But perhaps I was naive to the fact that maybe people did think I just do one thing. Since doing this movie, people are like, ”Oh, he actually is an actor,“ and not just think I show up to the ”Hangover“ set and that it’s not a character.”
Q: Your performance certainly is making people stand up and take notice, and there has been some early Oscar buzz. Are you feeling that excitement around you?
A: I don‘t. What I feel is excitement and hope that people go out and see this film and love it. I really hope the movie lives. That’s all I think about. In terms of all that Oscar stuff, honestly that would be absolutely insane. I very much doubt that it would happen. But it would be insane.
Reporting by Zorianna Kit; editing by Prudence Crowther; editing by Patricia Reaney