Bradley Cooper on drug and alcohol addiction: “I was so lost”

Bradley Cooper on drug and alcohol addiction: “I was so lost”

Bradley Cooper talks about his drug addiction.  (Photo: ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images)

Bradley Cooper talks about his drug addiction. (Photo: ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images)

Bradley Cooper revealed a particularly important conversation he had years ago with his actor friend Will Arnett when he appeared on Monday’s episode of Wondery’s SmartLess podcast, which is hosted by Arnett and two of their friends and fellow actors, Jason Bateman and Sean Hayes.

Cooper explained that it took place in 2004, when he lived next door to the former Development stopped star, whose sarcastic sense of humor he always tried to emulate. The two had gone to dinner with another friend the night before, and Arnett asked Cooper how he thought the night had gone. Cooper remembers feeling good about it, especially since he had been so funny during that time — at least in his mind — but Arnett’s take was quite different. He told Cooper, “You were a real asshole,” and scolded him for not taking his dogs out for a walk. By then it was 4 p.m. and the dogs were standing by the door.

“And that was, like, the first time I realized I had a problem with drugs and alcohol,” Cooper said. “And Will told me that, and I’ll never forget it.”

Along with his awareness of his addictions, Cooper said it forced him to see that this dummy, aloof persona he was trying to portray wasn’t working. He understood that, really, it had all been about his lack of self-esteem and trying to fit in.

“I was so lost,” he said. “I was so lost and addicted to cocaine – that was the other thing.”

To make matters worse, he had severed his Achilles tendon after, in his own words, “getting fired-slashed-quit A.k.a” in 2003.

Cooper had moved to Los Angeles for his role in the ABC drama Jennifer Garner, and he found himself feeling like he was “back in high school. I couldn’t get into any clubs, no girls wanted really looking at me. I was totally depressed.”

So, yes, he was struggling. The upside is that at the time he starred in the 2009 hit The hangover — he was 36 then — he had already had the clichéd experiences of people finally succeeding in the entertainment industry.

“But Will is the reason,” Cooper said, “he took this risk to have this difficult conversation with me, like in July 2004, that put me on the path to deciding to change my life.”

Bateman asked how fatherhood has changed Cooper, who shares 5-year-old daughter Lea with former partner, model Irina Shayk.

“Everything is absolutely overshadowed or brought into glorious color, by me becoming the father of a wonderful human being,” said Cooper, whose latest project is directing and starring Maestro, in which he plays the late composer Leonard Bernstein. “You have this wonderful thing or a breakthrough with a script, or you have a wonderful moment on that set or in an editing room…you have like 40 of those moments every day with your child, which are that level of joy. That isn’t spinning that, it’s just the truth.”

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