EXCLUSIVE: Bradley Cooper had a very good morning. Not only did he join Christopher Nolan as the only person with three individual Oscar nominations today for his film Maestro, he also joined a very elite club of actors who have directed themselves into Best Actor nominations twice, a list that only includes Laurence Olivier (who did it three times), Clint Eastwood and Warren Beatty. However this is all not new for Cooper who previously had been nominated nine, count ’em, nine times for Oscars in various categories as producer, screenwriter, and five times for acting. This one is quite special though.
“I mean just first of all, it is the year itself, to be included in a year where there’s just such incredible films. And then when we were finishing the movie, there was a discussion of whether it would come out next year or this year, and I remember thinking that I knew the movies that were coming out. I thought it would just be amazing if we were ever so lucky to be in a mix with these films, and these performances so it’s a thrill. And for all the work that everybody put in, for many of us to be acknowledged, you know, Pete it’s like very surreal,” he laughed as I talked to him on the phone this morning.
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Cooper also got three nominations last week from BAFTA including one for Best Director, the only category where he wasn’t Oscar nominated this year, but he told me he wasn’t disappointed about that at all. “I really didn’t know that we were going to get anything thing today, so the fact that we got seven nominations is incredible,” he said, adding about the BAFTA recognition, “That really meant a lot to us. You know the BAFTAs are incredible and I’m excited. I just get excited that we get to go and we get to see each other.”
One of the things he loves about the whole awards season is that he does get to meet others, and that includes fellow Best Actor nominee Colman Domingo who was among those he got to speak to after the nominations were announced.
“I have to say I’ve gotten to know Colman who I just love, and to be able to talk to him today was just awesome. And what a performance. We did a photo shoot for a magazine recently. And then we exchanged numbers. And since then, we’ve just been, you know, talking and texting and I was able to just to tell him how wonderful he was in Rustin. I got to meet Cillian (Murphy) at the Golden Globes who I’ve never met all these years. I remember we kind of started out around the same time. I feel like he exploded though with 28 Days Later, and then Sunshine blew me away. So that is the one great thing about this time of the year is you get to meet people that you’ve been fans of and just sort of shower praise on them. Then the other thing is, it starts to feel like a community,” he said, comparing it to the theater community in New York City where people congregate together in little pockets in the city. “Somebody else is doing the same thing when you’re making a movie, and when you get to the end of the year, and you’re all together and you realize, ‘oh, yeah, they were making Oppenheimer when they were making Rustin, and while we were making Maestro, and then it feels really like that sort of emotional sense of that there’s a community.”
As for all this recognition for Maestro, he is happy because it was a vision he had not just as a biopic but something much deeper about Leonard Bernstein, the man and his marriage and family and all that complexity. “It was when I saw that there was a possibility for merging a human story and a way that could be explored with all of the complications and confusions of what it is to just be a human in this world. This story of their relationship I thought encompassed the ability for us to explore all of those things in a film, coupled with his music, for his music to guide it,” he said. “I thought that combination of being able to have a story that hopefully people feel that they can relate to in ways that they didn’t think they would, and then yet it’s so cinematic because of this incredible genius of a musician. Because the movie is really created and structured through his music.”
Cooper says he is thrilled about the nominations for the Sound team since that is so intrinsic to the success of the movie, as well as Matthew Libatique’s cinematography, the makeup, particularly his years-long work with Kazu Hiro, the screenplay he wrote with Josh Singer, and of course a Best Actress nomination for Carey Mulligan.
“It was my hope when I started to realize what movie I wanted to write and explore, that there would be an actress that could fulfill that, and then Carey not only fulfilled it, but allowed me to explore cinematically in ways that I wouldn’t know if she wasn’t able to just be, I would say, almost transcendent, so that the camera, that the movie wants to stay on her. So I just listened to the movie and listened to her from what she was doing,” he said. “She really commandeered it in a way that I wanted her to, and that I wanted Felicia to, and I think that’s why the children became so excited from the very beginning that their mother’s story was going to be explored just as well as their father’s. But Carey, I’ve always been a huge fan of hers. I really do believe that she’s doing something even that I haven’t seen before, and that is what you hope as an actor to keep growing. And I’m excited to see what she’s gonna do next and I hope and pray I get to work with her again in my life.”
Speaking of the “kids,” one of the first reactions Cooper got was indeed from the family who were so integral into letting Cooper into the world of their parents. He shared a WhatsApp chat earlier today with Jamie Bernstein that he told me was just wonderful to see. “From Jamie: Hugs and more hugs. Love riding this crazy train with you, and onward we go!”
Onward to the Oscars. Pretty nice.
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