Before You See ‘American Sniper:’ The 5 Best Performances of Bradley Cooper

To call three-time Oscar nominee Bradley Cooper a rising star feels silly—but it’s true. Although he’s already achieved movie star status with films ranging from intimate dramas like The Place Beyond the Pines and Silver Linings Playbook to Hollywood studio comedies like The Hangover and Wedding Crashers, his in-demand staying power continues to escalate with each new film, and there’s no doubt about that.

The world has been abuzz the past week over Clint Eastwood’s new drama American Sniper, in which Cooper stars. As a record-breaking January release, the film has had everyone talking—from critics to audiences—about the potentially Oscar-winning performance from Cooper as real-life veteran Chris Kyle, notoriously known as the most lethal sniper in U.S. Military History. So let’s take a look back on  the evolution of Bradley Cooper’s career and its increasing diversity in performance.

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INSIDE THE ACTOR’S STUDIO, 19999

“Hey Mr. Penn, I’m a second year actor…” A 24-year-old Bradley Cooper politely raises his hand and asks Sean Penn about his approach to acting a character he’s already acted before. For those of you who may not know, Cooper had attended The New School’s Actors Studio Drama School and appeared on episode of Inside the Actor’s Studio as an audience member before coming back for his own show in 2011. Check this rare clip from a time when Bradley Cooper was just beginning his career.

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WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER, David Wain (2001)

 That yellow polo with a popped collar….Those high socks…Those denim shorts… #TBT Bradley Cooper was hot in the cult-classic Wet Hot American Summer. He played a closeted camp counselor doused in typical 1970’s attire, sneaking off to have sex with his lover, played by favorite Michael Ian Black, in the tool shed. Oh, yes. How could we forget about that marriage ceremony? Good news for Bradley Cooper fans! Wet Hot American Summer is officially going to be an eight-episode Netflix series so you’ll have the chance to see our dearest Cooper reprise that sexy camp counselor agenda. 

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WEDDING CRASHERS, David Dobkin (2005)

Two words: Zach Lodge. Bradley Cooper played the villain in 2005’s surprise hit smash Wedding Crashers. Zach Lodge, a cheating, lying, slimy boyfriend, who’s in the way of John’s (Owen Wilson) courtship of Claire (Rachel McAdams), is downright entertaining thanks to Cooper’s performance. This film goes on the list of buddy films Cooper has starred in.

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THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES, Derek Cianfrance (2012)

From the director of Blue Valentine, The Place Beyond the Pines is a crime drama exploring a thread of relationships amidst a crime-ridden community. Bradley Cooper’s emotionally engaging performance as a police officer who becomes a New York Attorney General after a complex web of crime, deception, and betrayal is a milestone for his career. The independent film premiered at the Toronto Film Festival and created a buzz that built its way to grossing over fifteen million dollars over its production budget.

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SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK, David O. Russell (2012)

Starring alongside Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper’s riveting portrayal of a recently divorced man struggling with mental illness was critically acclaimed. Cooper’s compassionate and realistic performance remains one of his finest as the film speaks highly of the troublesome nature of mental illness and its affects on our relationships. It has been mentioned that Robert DeNiro (who plays his father in the film) had seen an audition tape of his previously and wanted to meet him. They worked together previously on 2011’s Limitless.

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AMERICAN HUSTLE, David O. Russell (2013)

Bradley Cooper reunited with David O. Russell in his follow-up film starring as FBI agent Richard “Richie” DiMaso (based on real-life Anthony Amoroso Jr.) in the Oscar-nominated American Hustle. The film garnered ten Oscar nominations, including Best Supporting Actor for Cooper’s performance.

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AMERICA SNIPER, Clint Eastwood (2015)

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