WILD TIMES I was addicted to booze & cocaine and thought I was going to die – then my most minor role saved me, says Bradley Cooper

 IT took getting out into the wilderness for Bradley Cooper to contemplate his own wild past.

Taking to the remote canyons of Wyoming for an upcoming show with survival expert Bear Grylls, the Hollywood star, 48, has opened up about his drug and alcohol addiction — saying at his lowest point he thought he was going to die.

Bradley Cooper has opened up about his drug and alcohol addiction

Bradley with ex Irina Shayk, the mother of his daughter, in 2019

Addict Bradley in 2001 before he got clean

He tells of his pre-fame spiral and also reveals how his father dying in his arms, and becoming a parent to six-year-old Lea, alongside his ex Irina Shayk, has changed him.

Bear prompts him: “You definitely had some wild years?”

To which Bradley replies: “In terms of alcohol and drugs, yeah, but nothing to do with fame.

“But I was lucky. I got sober at 29 years old, I’ve been sober for 19 years. Very lucky.”

Astonishingly, he credits his sobriety to landing a computer advert in his late twenties after years of bit parts in film and TV.

But it wasn’t until 2009, when Bradley played the lead role in The Hangover that he became a household name.

He recalls: “I felt like I had a breakthrough when I was in a Dell computer commercial.

“The Hangover was pretty career-changing.

“I just wish my dad was around to enjoy more of it but we all recognise how lucky we’ve been.”

“I was 36 when that happened so I was already in the game ten years when that happened. So I didn’t get lost in fame.”

Bradley turned to alcohol and cocaine after severing his Achilles tendon and leaving American action series Alias, from which he “got fired slash quit”, in 2003.

He has previously confessed he was “totally depressed” during that time, with the worst moment being when he deliberately bashed his head on a concrete floor at a party.

He recalled: “I was like, ‘Hey, look how tough I am!’ And I came up, and blood dripped down. And then I did it again.

“I spent the night in hospital with a sock of ice, waiting for them to stitch me up.

“I was so concerned what you thought of me, how I was coming across, how I would survive the day.

“I always felt like an outsider.

“I just lived in my head.

“I realised I wasn’t going to live up to my potential, and that scared the hell out of me.

“I thought, ‘Wow, I’m actually gonna ruin my life’.”

It was The Lego Movie star Will Arnett who helped Bradley realise he had a problem while they were living together.

Bradley explained how he would try to mimic Will’s sense of humour in social situations and parties but then got confronted by his friend.

Speaking to Will and fellow actors Jason Bateman and Sean Hayes on their Smartless podcast, he recalled: “Will was like, ‘Hey man, do you remember we had dinner the other night? How do you think that went?’

‘Ruin my life’

“I remember being at the dinner thinking I was so funny, and I thought these two guys who were my heroes thought that I was so funny.

“I was like ‘I thought it was great. I thought I was killing.’

“Will Arnett was like, ‘You were a real a**hole, man. You were a real a**hole.’

“That was the first time I ever realised I had a problem with drugs and alcohol.

“The guy that I think is doing mean humour is telling me the truth and it changed my entire life.”

He continued: “I was so lost, and I was addicted to cocaine.

“Will took that risk of having that hard conversation with me in, like, 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.”

Following this revelation, Bradley went on to have therapy and said he “made major breakthroughs” in his self-esteem “where at least I was able to stand in front of somebody and breathe and listen and talk”.

And after The Hangover, the work kept coming.

By May 2011, he had appeared in The Hangover II, and played the lead in hit film Limitless, as well as been executive producer on it.

But Bradley’s movie buff father Charles did not get to see it, he died of lung cancer in January 2011, in his arms.

It was his dad who first sparked his interest in acting by showing him the 1980 movie Elephant Man.

Bradley would go on to star in the 2014 Broadway version.

In Running Wild With Bear Grylls, Bradley admits his dad’s death almost threw him back off the rails.

He says: “I definitely had a nihilistic attitude towards life after, just like I thought ‘I’m going to die’.

“I don’t know, it wasn’t great for a little bit until I thought I have to embrace who I actually am and try to find a peace with that, and then it sort of evened out.”

Also in 2011 Bradley was named People magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive.

He was initially uncomfortable with the accolade, but later found it funny, saying: “Fall in love with my looks, fine, but stay with me for my talent.”

His good looks have also attracted many of the most sought after women in Hollywood.

He married Jennifer Esposito in December 2006 but they divorced just four months later.

He has also dated Renee Zellweger, Jennifer Lopez, Zoe Saldana and Suki Waterhouse but in March 2017 he became a father to daughter Lea with Irina Shayk, who he dated from 2015 to 2019.

He says of having Lea: “Everything changed.

“Every single thing is absolutely shaded by or brought out in glorious colours by the fact that I get to be a father to a wonderful human being.

“It’s just the absolute greatest thing.”

Currently, Bradley is in a relationship with Huma Abedin, an American political staffer who was vice chair of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.

But he admitted to Bear that he isn’t perfect yet hopes to always do better.

He explains: “You learn from your predecessors’ mistakes and I’ll hopefully make tons that Lea will learn from and then being rigorous with myself to grow to help unburden her from any of my bulls**t.”

As one of the biggest names in Hollywood, Bradley has been nominated for an Oscar for Best Actor three times, for Silver Linings Playbook in 2013, American Sniper in 2015 and A Star Is Born in 2019.

He also won a BAFTA and two Grammys for playing addict Jackson Maine in A Star Is Born, opposite Lady Gaga, who he was linked to at the time.

Speaking to Bear about that role, he admits having been an addict himself “made it easier”.

He adds: “Thank goodness I was in a place in my life where I was at ease with all of that so I could really let myself go

Next up for Bradley is Maestro, an autobiographical film about Leonard Bernstein, which he wrote, produced and directed.

He’s also playing the composer himself.

“I’ve been very lucky with the roles I’ve had to play,” he says.

“It’s been a real blessing. I hope I get to keep doing it.

  • Bradley Cooper’s episode of Running Wild with Bear Grylls airs 6pm, August 27 on National Geographic

Bradley with Bear Grylls, who set him challenges in the canyons of the Wyoming Basin

Cooper in The Hangover Part II

The actor with Jennifer Garner in TV show Alias

In character as Leonard Bernstein in the upcoming biopic Maestro

Pal Will Arnett helped Bradley kick the booze and drugs

Bradley with his dad Charles in 2010, a few months before he died

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