The actor Bradley Cooper named as his “hero”
(Credit: Netflix)


The actor Bradley Cooper named as his "hero"

While Marcel Proust is often credited with originating the saying “you should never meet your heroes,” Bradley Cooper has effectively debunked its popularity and entrenched status in collective consciousness.

Since first gaining attention for his supporting role as Will Tippin in the hit spy series Alias, the evolution the actor and filmmaker has embarked upon since hitting the Hollywood big time is nothing short of remarkable, with Cooper now at the point where critical acclaim has become second nature.

A decade and a half ago, it would have sounded preposterous to suggest the breakout star of The Hangover had Academy Award nominations running into the double digits lurking just around the corner, but that’s precisely where Cooper finds himself today after Maestro brought him up to 12 Oscar nods split across five separate categories.

Back when he was a complete unknown seeking advice from one of the best in the business, though, Cooper pressed Robert De Niro during the latter’s appearance on Inside the Actors Studio, blissfully unaware that they’d become friends as well as regular collaborators.

After first co-starring together in the sci-fi thriller Limitless, Cooper and De Niro would reunite on David O. Russell’s Silver Linings PlaybookJoy, and American Hustle, while the former would produce Todd Phillips’ Joker, in which the latter starred as talk show host Murray Franklin.

Reflecting on the first time they shared the screen together, Cooper admitted to The Hollywood Reporter that he’d made a habit of trying to recruit De Niro for any project in which he had even the slightest amount of creative influence.

“That was the first time I tried to cast a movie, even though I wasn’t the director, and I went to see him in his hotel room,” he said. “I was pitching him the whole thing and then he wound up saying yes, which blew my mind because he was my hero.” Not only that, but it was De Niro who suggested to Cooper that stepping behind the camera was a career move worth considering.

“After that movie, he said he thought I should direct,” Cooper continued, which eventually saw him settle on A Star Is Born as his debut when Clint Eastwood – who he’d previously worked with on American Sniper – vacated the director’s chair after the star had already signed on to play the lead role.

These days, Cooper is happy to refer to De Niro as his friend, although his inner fan still marvels at the “very surreal coincidence” that’s allowed him to refer to the legendary actor as such. It’s a far cry from nervously asking him a question on a TV show, that’s for sure, not that he could have even dreamed of forming a close bond way back then.