Bradley Cooper was shaken by his latest role in ‘The Words’

Bradley Cooper stars as the conflicted author Rory Jansen, opposite Jeremy Irons in “The Words.”

For Bradley Cooper, signing on to star in “The Words” — co-written and co-directed by his childhood best friend, Brian Klugman — was a no-brainer. But that doesn’t mean he was entirely comfortable actually playing Rory Jansen, a struggling writer who discovers a lost manuscript and passes it off as his own, leading to overnight literary success.

“I was very scared that I was going to fail [Klugman and co-director/co-writer Lee Sternthal] when they asked me to do it,” Cooper admits. “I said yes because I would do anything for them. Brian is my best buddy. It was a week before shooting, I was reading the script one last time, and he knew I was worried that I really didn’t get Rory.”

The multilayered film follows Rory’s rise to fame while also telling the story recounted in the lost manuscript, a tragic love story set in post-World War II Paris between a young American G.I. (Ben Barnes) and French woman (Nora Arnezeder). Framing all of that is an established author (Dennis Quaid) retelling the entire tale, with a very interested listener (Olivia Wilde) pressing him for more details. The film itself gave Cooper a kind of thrill he hasn’t necessarily gotten in a while, as Klugman “got me to places I didn’t know I could get to,” he says.

While the act of plagiarism at the heart of the plot may be tough for audiences to sympathize with, Cooper found a way of understand Rory’s decision.

“It’s much more complicated than a plagiarist who wants success. His goal is not to be a famous writer. His goal is to meet the expectations he has of himself,” Cooper explains. “I don’t see Rory as a slimebag at all. I see Rory as a man who’s not really a man and grappling with what it is to be a man. I think his Achilles’ heel is his impatience. And the thing I really liked about the script, and the hook for me, was the fact that he actually is a good writer. He’s not a poor writer who’s just looking for any way to get success, but he’s just so preoccupied with living up to some idea [of] who he thinks he should be. That’s his fatal flaw.”


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