Bradley Cooper Might Have Quit Acting If It Weren’t For Paul Thomas Anderson’s Licorice Pizza

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Bradley Cooper has had an unusual career. He managed to break out of being typecast as what IndieWire dubbed in 2015 “weaselly boyfriends or best friends in mainstream comedies” to become one of the most celebrated, multi-faceted talents in Hollywood today. Now set to star in Steven Spielberg’s “Bullitt” movie, and with his second directorial project, “Maestro,” ready to drop in 2023, there seems to be no letting up for Cooper.

Since his debut in the director’s chair with 2018’s “A Star Is Born,” Cooper has continued to take on diverse projects. His role as con man Stanton “Stan” Carlisle in Guillermo del Toro’s “Nightmare Alley” was unlike anything he’d ever done. As was his brief part in “Licorice Pizza,” Paul Thomas Anderson’s 2021 coming-of-age effort set in the halcyon 1970s, in which Cooper plays producer Jon Peters. The “Hangover” star delivered an uncomfortably intense energy as Peters, struggling to keep his cool during the gas crisis in ’70s Los Angeles and frequently letting his mania get the better of him.

“Licorice Pizza” was also notable for introducing audiences to Alana Haim’s impressive acting abilities, as well as reflecting a hazy wistfulness for the frequent aimlessness of youth in its cinematic style. But it turns out, we also have the movie, and PTA, to thank for rescuing Cooper from the verge of call it quits on the whole acting thing.

Cooper Really Really Wanted To Be In A Paul Thomas Anderson Film

In a conversation with his “The Place Beyond The Pines” colleague Mahershala Ali for Variety, Bradley Cooper revealed that he was ready to focus on a behind-the-camera career before he was asked to do “Licorice Pizza:”

“The reason that I didn’t give up acting is Paul Thomas Anderson. When he called me to maybe be in his movie … I think I’d open up a door in his movie. I’d do anything.”

Cooper was in the midst of shooting “Nightmare Alley” when the movie had to shut down due to the pandemic. During that time, as the actor told Stephen Colbert, the call from Anderson came in and Cooper simply couldn’t refuse:

“I thought, well, I can never give up [acting] because I don’t want to be somewhere else and [‘Licorice Pizza’] is out and I think I didn’t try. [Paul Thomas Anderson] has always been a hero.”

Cooper said he spent three and a half weeks shooting “Licorice Pizza,” during which time he told Ali he “was like a sponge” soaking up everything Anderson could teach him. He even went as far as to say, “I’m not sure I’ve trusted a director as much as I’ve trusted Paul.”

Leaving Acting For The Second Time

This isn’t the first time the “American Sniper” star has considered quitting acting. Back in the early days of his career, Bradley Cooper had a supporting role on the show “Alias” where he played journalist (and Jennifer Garner’s friend) Will Tippen. But as the actor told GQ in 2013, his character was increasingly sidelined until he asked creator and executive producer J.J. Abrams to write him out the show altogether. Then, just two weeks after leaving the series, he tore his Achilles tendon and would up spending much of the next year on his couch — all of which led the then up-and-coming actor to almost pack it in:

“At some point, you have to come to terms with the business just doesn’t want you, you know what I mean?”

That time around, he was rescued from becoming a footnote in Hollywood history by landing a role in the 2005 comedy “Wedding Crashers.” He’s come a long way from that Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn farce, juggling Guillermo del Toro and Paul Thomas Anderson projects and taking over films from Steven Spielberg. There’s surely more greatness to come from Cooper, so let’s hope PTA is waiting in the wings next time he considers packing it in.

Read this next: The 10 Best Guillermo Del Toro Characters Ranked

The post Bradley Cooper Might Have Quit Acting If It Weren’t For Paul Thomas Anderson’s Licorice Pizza appeared first on /Film.

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