Bradley Cooper has admitted to battling a severe addiction to cocaine in the early years of his career, revealing that he became ‘so lost’ in substance abuse as a means of dealing with low self-esteem after he was demoted from a lead role in TV series Alias.
Cooper, 47, opened up about his addictions on Jason Bateman, Will Arnett and Sean Hayes’ podcast Smartless, explaining that being demoted to a guest star in the show’s third season completely demoralized him and contributed to him developing a ‘problem with drugs and alcohol.’
‘I was so lost and I was addicted to cocaine — that was the other thing,’ he said of the trying time when his career seemed adrift.
Struggles: Bradley Cooper, 47, delved into his addictions to alcohol and cocaine in a probing episode of the Smartless podcast, hosted by Jason Bateman, Will Arnett and Sean Hayes, on Tuesday; seen in March in NYC
His physical struggles also contributed to his condition.
‘I severed my Achilles tendon right after I got fired-slash-quit Alias,’ he explained, adding that he suffered from terrible self-esteem.
Bradley was originally part of the main cast with star Jennifer Garner on Alias’ first two seasons, from 2001 to 2003.
But then he saw his character reduced to special guest status, and he only appeared on two additional episodes — once in 2003 during the third season, and then a final appearance in a season five episode in 2006.
While chatting with his friends, Bradley noted that he was lucky that his addiction struggles happened when he was relatively young and still developing his acting career.
Bad dayus: After he was demoted on Alias in the third season, he became ‘so lost’ in a cocaine addiction, which was exacerbated by a severed Achilles tendon; seen with Jennifer Garner in Alias
End of an era: Cooper was in Alias’ main cast in the first two season (2001–03) but he was bumped down to guest status and only appeared in two more episodes, one in 2003 and one in 2006
‘I did have the benefit of that happening when I was 29. I thought I made it when I got a Wendy’s commercial. … In terms of the made-it thing, that’s when I made it. But I definitely did not feel, moving to Los Angeles for Alias, feeling like I was back in high school: I could not get into any clubs, no girls wanted to look at me. I was totally depressed.
A popular supporting role in Wedding Crashers and his star-making lead turn in The Hangover helped resuscitate his career and put him on the path to A-list status.
‘It wasn’t really until The Hangover. I was 36 when I did The Hangover, so I got to go through all those things before fame even played into my existence on a daily level. So all that happened before any of that,’ he explained.
But Will Arnett, a longtime friend of Bradley’s, thought that coming to terms with his addiction was a necessary ‘metamorphosis’ before he could shoot to fame with The Hangover.
On the upswing: But luckily his addiction happened early in his career, and he would rise again with The Hangover (pictured) when he was 36
‘Having those realizations and having that change allowed you to— that’s what opened you up and allowed you to be you,’ opined the Arrested Development star, which Bradley agreed with.
‘It’s true,’ he admitted. ‘I definitely made major breakthroughs at 29 to 33, 34, where at least I was able to stand in front of somebody and breathe and listen and talk.’
Bradley shared with listeners that he met Will through his ex-wife Amy Poehler, whom he appeared with in Wet Hot American Summer in 2001.
At the time, he envisioned a comedy trajectory, but he didn’t gel with the trend in comedy, where ‘mean humor was the thing.’
Tough talk: Bradley recounted being rude at a dinner with his friend Will Arnett, before the Arrested Development star told him he was a ‘real a*****e’; seen in March in LA
Although Will excelled at it, Cooper worried that he was ‘really hurting people’s feelings.’
It was a dinner with Will where he made a fool of himself that made him realize how bad his addiction had gotten.
‘I remember being at the dinner thinking I was so funny, and I thought, these two guys who are my heroes thought that I was so funny,’ he recalled, but he said Will didn’t find his antics particularly funny.
He remembered the 30 Rock actor telling him, “‘You were a real a*****e,”‘ which was the straight talk he needed to realize the error of his ways.
‘That was like the first time I ever realized I had a problem with drugs and alcohol,’ he explained. ‘It was Will saying that to me. And I’ll just never forget it. I was like, “Oh the guy that I think is doing mean humor is telling me the truth about that.”‘
Will sounded emotional as he noted how good it felt to see his friend thriving.
‘It has been awesome seeing you in this place and seeing you comfortable. Nothing has made me happier,’ he said, clearly emotional. ‘It’s made me happy to see you so happy with who you are.’
Friendly support: ‘It has been awesome seeing you in this place and seeing you comfortable. Nothing has made me happier,’ Will said, clearly emotional; seen together in 2018 in Las Vegas
Since getting clean, Cooper starred in the Oscar winning films Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle.
His Clint Eastwood–directed war film American Sniper went on to be a major critical and commercial success, and he earned widespread praise for his remake of A Star Is Born, which he directed and starred in opposite Lady Gaga.
Cooper is set to again direct for his upcoming Netflix biopic of Leonard Bernstein, in which he also stars as the famous conductor and composer.