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Bradley Cooper Reflects On Will Arnett’s Role In His Journey To Sobriety

Addiction can affect absolutely anyone, celebrities included. As it turns out, Oscar-nominated actor Bradley Cooper, who is known for his performances in hits like Silver Linings Playbook, A Star Is Born, and The Hangover is no different in that regard than the rest of us, and there’s a lot we can learn from him and his journey to sobriety. 

As Cooper described in a recent appearance on Will Arnett’s podcast “SmartLess,” which the Arrested Development actor hosts with fellow stars Jason Bateman and Sean Hayes, Cooper’s problem manifested relatively early in his career, which he now considers a blessing for affording him anonymity.

Though it wasn’t until the actor appeared in The Hangover at age 36 in 2009 that he had to deal with the type of fame he describes as playing into his existence “on a daily level,” he had already made something of a name for himself through his appearances in Alias, a science fiction series that ran during the early 2000s. 

But after his role on Alias was substantially reduced, a period during which he also injured his Achilles tendon, Cooper found himself falling more and more deeply into his cocaine addiction. 

“I was so lost,” Cooper said. 

“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 [it]. . . I could not get into any clubs, no girls wanted to look at me.”

Cooper describes that time as one during which he felt “worthless,” and one in which his behavior was consistently hurting others, something that he claims that Arnett helped him realize. 

Though Cooper had adopted the strategy of attempting to mimic the “mean humor” employed by his favorite comedians to create a façade of confidence, when he asked Arnett, who he considered a master of such humor, how he’d actually come off at a recent dinner party, Arnett gave him a light bulb moment by telling him the unvarnished truth:

‘You were a real (expletive), man. You were a real (expletive).'”

“Will took that risk of having that hard conversation with me in July of 2004 and that put me on a path of deciding to change my life. It truly was Will Arnett. he is the reason,” Cooper later described.

That was only the beginning of Cooper’s journey to recovery, which also involved a lot of hard work in therapy. He describes himself as making many major breakthroughs in this work between the ages of 29 and 34, learning to “to stand in front of somebody and breathe and listen and talk” without the barrier of substances.

“Quite honestly today I can sit in front of you and tell you I have self-esteem and it’s not related to any outside thing. I didn’t have that for 46 years,” Cooper said. 

Now, instead of putting on airs when he met intimidatingly famous co-stars like Sandra Bullock, he was able to meet them as his actual self and was pleased to discover that that self was not only accepted but embraced.

I was rediscovering myself in this workplace, and it was wonderful,” Cooper describes.

Along with saving his career, which he described himself as nearly having “sabotaged” with his drug and alcohol use in a 2013 interview, Cooper’s sobriety allowed him to reach another major life milestone when he welcomed daughter Lea with his former partner Irina Shayk in 2017. 

Describing his elation in fatherhood, Cooper remarked:

“I love it. I don’t want any moment that I could be with her, not to be with her . . . Every single thing is absolutely shaded by or brought out in glorious colors by the fact that I get to be a father to a wonderful human being.”

His career also appears to be going swimmingly, as indicated by his upcoming role as both director and star in the upcoming biopic Maestro, which explores the life of late composer Leonard Bernstein.  

Arnett, who has struggled with alcoholism himself, is also pleased with the part he played in his friend Cooper’s journey. 

“It has been awesome seeing you in this place and seeing you comfortable, nothing has made me happier. . . it’s made me happy to see you so happy with who you are,” Arnett said to his friend. 

Whether you are in the place Cooper was in when he started his sobriety journey, or find yourself more closely aligned with Arnettthe concerned friend or loved one—Cooper’s story shows not only how rewarding sobriety can be but how critical “hard conversations” can be to putting someone on the path to recovery. 

But if you’re afraid to go at it alone, Reco Intensive can help loved ones learn to have these conversations with our intervention services, and can then help your loved one to work through their addiction and related mental health issues to rediscover their own confidence and higher self. To learn more about our comprehensive addiction treatment program and how we can guide you or your loved one towards the path to a brighter future, feel free to call us anytime at 844-955-3042.

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