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."