Rogue of the Week: Bradley Cooper

Thursday, 24 March 2011 11:57 Written by  Jordan DeSaulnier
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Rogue of the Week: Bradley Cooper

After Bradley Cooper played the romantic comedy archetype of the douchebag boyfriend to perfection in Wedding Crashers, he could have ended up stranded on Typecast Island, doomed to forever play the sleazy boyfriend who doesn't – and shouldn't – get the girl.  The actor managed to avoid typcasting, however, and with the success of Limitless, his first solo starring role, Bradley Cooper is now breathing that rarefied, flower-scented air available only to bankable leading men. 

To be Rogue of the Week, it's not enough to simply be successful, though.  It takes someone who does the unexpected, and makes unconventional choices.

Wedding CrashersMost films have protagonists that are likable in the most generic, inoffensive sense, but in Limitless, Cooper obtained his new status playing a character who is by turns downtrodden, complicated, duplicitous, brilliant (by virtue of a pill addiction), but not for a single moment is he uninteresting.  And in spite of his daring, occasionally outrageous behavior, we as an audience never stop rooting for Eddie Morra on his NZT-fueled adventure.  This is due to Cooper's performance, which immediately earns our sympathy when Eddie's a down-on-his-luck writer, then pushes the limits of that sympathy as he becomes almost inhumanly intelligent and unexpectedly ambitious.

In his first appearance on television, Bradley Cooper played a one episode love interest on Sex and the City.  In 2000, Cooper hosted the Discovery Channel travel series 'Treks in a Wild World' while attending the prestigious Actor's Studio.  His other television credits include 43 episodes of the phenomenally popular JJ Abrams series Alias, starring Jennifer Garner

B-Coop nabbed his first lead role on the television series Kitchen Confidential, based on the memoir of the same name by Anthony Bourdain.  Cooper was pitch perfect as Jack Bourdain, a slightly fictionalized version of the author.  Compare Cooper's work on the series to the real Bourdain in any episode of No Reservations on the Travel Channel, and you'll see that the actor nailed Bourdain's sly, sardonic sense of humor and impish smirk.

Wet Hot American Summer

That sense of humor served Cooper well in his cinematic work.  He had to miss his graduation from the Actor's Studio to film the cult comedy Wet Hot American Summer, his first film role.  Later, he was just one component in the ensemble romantic comedies He's Just Not That Into You and Valentine's Day, but it was his role in the highest grossing comedy of all time in The Hangover that propelled him to a whole new level.  As the callow but fundamentally decent Phil, Cooper was indispensable, providing a reliable anchor among the sundry absurdities provided by Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis.

HangoverAgain, Cooper could easily have been typecast, but the actor has defied any attempts at easy categorization.  Though he could easily have carved out a profitable niche for himself as a supporting character in high profile comedies, but he instead pursued the lead in Limitless, a movie that would be required to carry almost entirely, appearing in every single scene.  That's why Cooper is our Rogue of the Week.  He took a chance, betting his new-found cache on a challenging role in a film that was by no means a guaranteed hit; it is not based on a comic book, a toy, or any other well known property.  His gamble succeeded unequivocally, however, and I look forward to see more complicated, interesting characters from Bradley Cooper.


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