I have loved Bradley Cooper's acting ever since I first saw him in The Hangover. The man has this amazing wittiness about him that comes off as charming instead of arrogant, unlike many other actors out there in Hollywood. But ever since I've seen him in The Hangover, I've kept my eye on him as an actor and watched out for him over the years.
He's definitely become an A-list actor over the years and has undeniable star-power. He's one of the reasons many flocked to the [Guardians of the Galaxy](movie:424073)movie last year as he was the voice behind Rocket Raccoon.
A History of Award-Winning
Though the man has yet to win an Oscar, he's definitely earned a fair-share of awards for films like Silver Lining's Playbook and American Hustle (deserved an award for A Place Beyond the Pines). Awards such as:
MTV Movie Awards
- Best Male Performance (for Silver Linings Playbook)
- Best Kiss (for Silver Linings Playbook)
- Best Actor - Motion Picture (for Silver Linings Playbook)
Screen Actors Guild Awards
- Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture (for American Hustle)
Three-Time Oscar Nominee!
The fact is is that the Oscar is the most sought-after award in Hollywood it seems. This year, Bradley Cooper has been nominated for an Oscar for 'Best Actor'. This will make it the third time he's been nominated for an Oscar in the past three years, as he was nominated for the same award in Silver Linings Playbook and 'Best Supporting Actor' in [American Hustle](movie:381856). Not to put a blemish on any other award he won for those movies, they're great I'm sure, but where's the man's Oscar? I think he's deserved one way before 2015.
When a trailer with Bradley Cooper in it comes out it doesn't say:
Starring Bradley Cooper
2-Time MTV Movie Award Winning Actor for 'Best Male Performance' and 'Best Kiss'
That's not what's being sought after, Bradley Cooper has done an amazing job in his acting career, especially in the past few years, and he deserves some huge props for the effort he's put into his work and the dedication he's shown to his roles.
I stand by the statement that he's a dedicated actor but I don't think any role he's done in the past no matter how great MTV or the SAGs might have thought they were, Bradley Cooper has not had a performance, in my opinion, as great as his performance as real life American war-hero, Chris Kyle in Clint Eastwood's American Sniper film.
A Physically Challenging Display of Dedication
I always admire actors who put their bodies through the paces as they try to physically transform into the roles the play. That's what Bradley Cooper did for [American Sniper](movie:401418).
He wasn't content to just grow a beard, cut his hair down a bit, and wield a McMillan Tac-338 sniper rifle to "look the part". No, he wanted to become Chris Kyle on screen. He spoke with Men's Health about how the process of transforming himself into the 230-pound Navy SEAL:
“I had to get to the point where I believed I was him,” Cooper told Men’s Health. “At 185 pounds, it would’ve been a joke. His size was such a part of who he was.”
While speaking to to Navy Times, they asked him how he bulked up for the role and he lists his rigorous workout schedule and it's daunting to be sure:
"It was a heavily regulated regimen. We had three months. I had a goal of 30 pounds of muscle. Not bodybuilding, but to be like Chris. He was a very big, thick, strong man.
It was 6,000 calories a day. Wake up at 5 a.m., work out from 6 to 8:30. Dialect from 10 to 12. Two to 4:30 work out again. Then 6 to 8 dialect, and then sleep. I did that five days a week, with rifle training on weekends."
This kind of dedication deserves an award all it's own. But there's still more.
A Truly Heartfelt Performance
As great as an actor Bradley Cooper may be, he's never played a role that's made me tight-chested and hazy-eyed until I saw his portrayal of Chris Kyle. Maybe it's because of the sad but true story that is Chris Kyle's life. The fact that he saved countless lives during his four tours overseas. Maybe it's the fact that he managed to hold onto his marriage despite what statistics would typically say about a SEAL and his family. Or maybe it's because of the horrible and undeserving end that Kyle met on February 2, 2013. I don't know, but it seemed to me that Bradley Cooper was trying to perform not only to the best of his own acting ability but also to the best of Chris Kyle's memory.
Bradley admired Chris Kyle and no amount of negative reception to the man and his accomplishments were going to slow him down:
"Despite what maybe people have said about him, if you watch what I've watched — very humble guy. And whenever people would talk about the number, he doesn't really think about that.
He wished they'd record how many lives saved as opposed to killed. He didn't understand why you would mark it up as confirmed kills instead of lives saved.
I never felt like I was playing anybody other than someone I admired. The whole thing about "The Legend" was a joke at first. And then it became a thing these guys put on because they knew he would hate it."
I love that he maintained this mindset and his performance shows just how much he respected the man he was portraying.
Going to the Best Source of Information
A lot of people may have just nit-picked pieces out of the American Sniper book, made it all action-packed with little-to-no heart. But the people that surrounded Kyle, his wife and kids, his parents, and the men he fought beside all knew Chris Kyle best and knew how his portrayal should be handled.
So Bradley Cooper and Clint Eastwood did the very best thing you could do to learn about someone besides just reading the book, googling, and utilizing as much wikipedia as possible: they went to Kyle's family and friends to get a deeper understanding of the man Chris was.
Bradley Cooper confirms this in the same interview with Navy Times:
"Clint and I went to Midlothian, Texas, spending time with Taya and his kids, [his parents] Wayne and Deby, his brother Jeff and [his brother's wife] Amy. The work that I did was all based on what Taya gave me, and also training with guys who had trained Chris on sniper rifles."
This is the kind of information that just makes me smile. When huge celebrities and stars come to meet family and friends of a man whom they consider a hero and whom they want to pay their deepest respects in the best possible way they can: a film adaptation.
It was obviously a very rewarding opportunity to do so as Chris Kyle's wife, Taya Kyle, had this to say about Bradley Cooper's portrayal of her husband in American Sniper:
"Initially I was so focused on Chris and making sure that it honored him, but I just lost myself. It was so Chris. It wasn't Bradley on the screen. It was Chris."
No better way to be congratulated for playing the role of true war-hero than for the wife of that man to say that you became the man you were playing on screen.
Bradley Cooper: SEAL Material?
I love that Cooper not only beefed up physically for the role but that he took the time, as you can see in his quote above, to train with the very same men that trained with Chris Kyle.
Navy SEAL sniper Kevin Lacz had this to say about Bradley Cooper's skills on the range.
"I was surprised at just how good Bradley was with a sniper rifle and live rounds,' said Lacz. 'We went out to a shooting range and Bradley just took to it straight away.
'He quickly picked up that you have to use your whole body when looking down a sniper's scope. Every muscle has to be relaxed, except the trigger finger.
'So much of what snipers do is in the mind.You have to have the right mind set as you are looking directly at the person you are going to kill. It's not like you are in a plane firing a missile but looking at the person who is going to die. Bradley got that."
There you have it, Bradley Cooper went above and beyond what he had to do to become Chris Kyle. He applied himself whole-heartedly to everything that made Chris Kyle who he was.
He had achieved the visual, physical aspect of who Chris Kyle was by nearly becoming Kyle's doppelganger, so much so that his wife could only see her husband on screen and that his friends couldn't hardly distinguish him from their beloved friend when sporting military gear. And then for the final compliment to the man's efforts and dedication, he also received props on his sniper skills.
I say the man deserves more than an Oscar on Sunday, February 22nd. I say he deserves a standing ovation a full minute's worth of unwavering applause.
Give the man an Oscar!