Some of the fear that Bradley Cooper had about joining the cast of David O. Russell’s “Silver Linings Playbook” — in which we plays a man trying to put his life back together after a stint in a mental hospital — was alleviated when he found out that he’d be playing Robert De Niro’s son.
“We had done a movie together prior, and he really did champion me to get the role,” the actor says. “I knew I could say the word ‘dad’ and look at him and that would come from a real place.”
Jumping into the shoes of his character, Pat Solitano, wasn’t too far a leap for Cooper, who grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia, where the movie takes place. He credits the house they shot in as being “very much a part of that magic that occurred” — a crew member actually cooked in the kitchen so the whole house smelled of suburban life — and his own experiences being Italian-Irish.
“It really helped that I come from a very similar background [as Pat],” he says. “Everything smelled and looked and felt real because it is how I grew up. So I was very lucky in that I had 37 years of preparation for that role.”
But what did take some real preparation was getting into the mind of his character, who is bipolar. After Russell sent him some documentary footage, the two explored how to approach the character and tweaked it when necessary.
“There’s not, like, a general wash of bipolarity that one can play,” Cooper says. “It’s very specific to this guy. These traumatic events trigger something in him that puts him in a manic state. Just finding all of those moments and then being able to insert that into the scenes and modulate it so that it’s not overbearing … we were very conscious of making him palatable while at the same [time] not negating the integrity of the character.”
All the right moves
Cooper also had to prepare for some extensive dancing scenes with co-star Jennifer Lawrence, whom he did not know prior to their making the film.
“It’s a hell of a way to meet somebody,” he says. “The first time I met her was at a small studio space; next thing you know we’re sweating and she has her hands under my armpits and it’s very embarrassing.”
Performing to moves choreographed by Mandy Moore, Cooper says he enjoyed the process — although there was one aspect he wasn’t too pleased with.
“I like to dance, so it was fun, but I feel bad — Bob [De Niro] and Chris [Tucker] had to sit and watch us dance for three days, for 16 hours.”