The Blog

Pat on the Back of Bradley's Oscar Hope

What is common between Gary Cooper, Hrithik Roshan and Bradley Cooper? All three of them are actors. Technically Gary Cooper is no longer an actor because he is dead. He died in 1961, six days after turning 60. Bradley Cooper is currently basking in the glow of an Oscar nomination. Had he been related to the legendary Gary Cooper pundits would have said that "acting is in his blood". Why have we dragged Hrithik Roshan's name in this discussion? If we were to give all three of them the Brylcreem look of the 60s, we would have difficulty spotting who is who. That's all. Hrithik is now free to leave.

It is just as well that the two Coopers are not related. Gary was an iconic actor who straddled the world of silent movies and the talkies with equal measure of success. Gary left a legacy that Bradley, had he been related to the senior Cooper, would have found difficult to live up to. Look at the fate of Michael Douglas. He is a talented actor. But the constant comparison with his illustrious father Kirk Douglas has diminished his achievements.

Bradley has earned his first Oscar nomination for the lead role of Pat Solitano in "Silver Linings Playbook". Gary earned five nominations and walked away with Hollywood's most coveted trophy twice for "Sergeant York" and "High Noon". He also received an Honorary Award from the Motion Picture Academy just before his death. Interestingly, he is also remembered for turning down the offer to play Rhett Butler in "Gone with the Wind". The role earned Clarke Gable his third Oscar nomination. It could well have been Gary's sixth nomination or even a third trophy! Let that be. For now let us celebrate Bradley and his phenomenal rise as one of the most sought after actors in Hollywood.

In Hollywood backbiting and bitching are by themselves thriving enterprises. However, gossip writers would die of starvation if they were to go hunting for a juicy sound bite about Bradley. His co-stars adore him. His directors have nothing but fulsome praise for his professionalism. Last year People Magazine voted him as the Most Sexiest Man Alive. If a movie were to be made on his life an apt title for it would be "There's Nobody Who Is Better Liked".

The role that earned him the Oscar nomination is about a teacher who is sent to a mental institution following turbulence in his staid life. On being discharged from the institution the former teacher returns to live with his parents to pick the tangled thread of life. He tries to reconcile with his ex-wife. Things get more challenging when Pat meets Tiffany, a mysterious girl with problems of her own.

It is a challenging role and critics say that it is by far the best performance of his career that began as a TV actor in 1999 with the hugely popular series "Sex and the City". However, it was his role in another TV series "Alias" that helped him take confident strides toward stardom.

After attracting attention for his likable role as Jennifer Garner's reporter friend on "Alias" (ABC, 2001-06), Bradley Cooper had the courage to accept the role of an unlikable groom in "Wedding Crashers", which was his first major big screen movie. Perhaps, there was a method in his madness as it were. He wanted to test his versatility as an actor by doing both negative and positive roles.

In "Silver Linings Playback", which has been nominated for eight Oscars, Pat Solitano beats up his wife's lover. He loses his job as a school teacher. However, instead of being sent to jail he is transferred to a mental institution for treatment of depression.

In an interview to Thinkprogress, Bradley analyzed Pat as someone whose mental health should have been diagnosed when he was a teenager, and not after he beat up a guy for sleeping with his wife. That is where society and the system keep failing us all the time. They create instruments for punishing misdeeds. They don't see the smoke. They see only the fire.

Bradley Cooper became an actor not with the sole objective of providing entertainment. He is a thinking actor who loves to keep challenging himself by picking up complex roles like that of Pat Solitano. He has done some bad movies too in his fledgling career. In 2009 he and Sandra Bullock picked up the Golden Raspberry Award for the worst screen couple for their roles in "All About Steve". It must have been an extremely bad movie because Sandra too is not just one of those run of the mill actors.

Cooper is now busy with plans to fast track the making of "American Sniper", based on the autobiography of Chris Kyle, said to be the most lethal Navy SEAL sniper in America's military history. He himself was shot dead on February 2, 2013.

Cooper's called a meeting of the film's producers not only to find out "what we can do for [Kyle]s] family, but also on putting the movie on the fast track." It is not difficult to understand why Bradley wants to fast track the making of "American Sniper". Kyle was presumably shot dead by Eddie Ray Routh, himself a war veteran. He had been invited to a shooting range in Texas by Kyle to discuss Routh's post-traumatic stress disorder.

It will be a movie worth waiting for. Bradley, who will play Kyle, intends to focus on the post-trauma complication of most veterans. Gun control laws too are likely to woven into the narrative in the light of Kyle's own end.