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Red-hot star Bradley Cooper has been having a terrific summer. The Hangover found the sweet spot back in June, and it had legs—it’s made over $265M since then. His latest film, All About Steve, opens on September 4, just in time for Labor Day. Can Cooper bookend the summer with another smash hit comedy?
In All About Steve, Sandra Bullock (also having a great summer with The Proposal) stars as the off-the-wall Mary, a ray of sunshine who marches to the beat of her own drummer, oblivious to the fact she’s an outsider. When she’s set up on a blind date with Steve (Cooper), a 24-hour news channel cameraman, she falls hard. He does not. When Mary decides to follow Steve on a cross-country hunt for breaking news, wacky misunderstandings ensue, and Mary herself soon becomes entangled in the story.
Cooper and co-star Thomas Haden Church (who plays the CNN-ish reporter) were both jurors at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival, so we thought we’d get them on the phone together for a joint interview. While we had more questions planned, it was more fun to just let these two funny men riff on Tribeca, their tans, media flashpoints, their new movie, and more.
Thomas Haden Church: Buddy, I have to tell you. I am sitting outside. I came home [from hanging out with Bradley all day the day before] admiring your tan and said, “I gotta get myself a Coop-y tan.”
[We talk a bit about the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival, where both men were jurors.]
Bradley Cooper: Tom, did you see Moon at the Festival?
THC: No, I missed it.
BC: Dude, it was so good. You should see it.
THC: Dude, I went hunting District 9 last night on your recommendation, but I ended up seeing The Hangover again instead—I wanted to after hanging out with you all day. I gotta tell you: I was sitting in the theater and I said out loud, “I think he probably ad-libbed that.” And the guy next to me looked at me like, “What do you know, jackass?”
What I love about you is that you have this absolutely innocent sincerity. That part when Ken [Leong, who also costars in All About Steve] jumps out, and you say that thing, “He’s so mean!” You know, that’s great. It’s such a nakedly honest observation.
You know, we shot Steve a while ago, and over the last couple years, I’ve been following Bradley. I’m just so proud of him, because when we shot Steve, he was like, I’m going to go up for these movies—Jim Carrey’s film [Yes Man], He’s Just Not That Into You—he just took every opportunity. He’s an admirable young guy. He took control of his career—this is not something an agent or a manager could do.
Tribeca Film: How long ago did you shoot All About Steve?
THC: [deadpan] We shot it in the Fall of 1989.
BC: [Laughs.] We shot it two Junes ago.
THC: It was going to come out last year, and then earlier this year.
Tribeca Film: What happened?
BC: I think the studio waited to have it come out after The Proposal [also starring Sandra Bullock].
THC: No, you’re being modest. The Hangover was getting buzz in the beginning of the year. It was part of the studio’s strategy to wait—they wanted the opportunity to have a whole ’nother movie star in this movie. It was naked flattery of Bradley Cooper.
THC: A friend of mine was telling me she went to see The Time Traveler’s Wife—the audience was all women—and the Steve trailer came on. She said there was an audible, lusty GASP when Bradley came on the screen.
BC: Did you hear that? Lusty gas? One huge fart.
THC: Nope. We have a big naughty piece of meatcake in our movie now.
BC: Listen, I had a great time on The Hangover and on Wedding Crashers, but Steve maybe surpasses them, or at least it’s right up there. Thomas, Ken and I—I really looked forward to going to work each day. It was SO hot, the parameters were demanding, and most of our stuff was shot in the [newscast] van, and we all got along, thank God. There was a 2 ½ week rehearsal period—I’ve never had that before—where we got the script in a different form every day. It was such a great experience.
THC: I had never met Bradley Cooper before. We went and we were going to have a table read for the studio. As I walked in the room, he was talking to Sandy, but he saw me. He got this huge grin on his face and came over and gave me a big hug. How the fuck can you not fall in love with that? That’s who Bradley is.
And to see how much fun he was having with Ken—Brad, you would collapse towards him in a passionate kiss. And Ken would just meet it, mouth open. They would do this, passionately succumbing to homosexual love.
BC: It’s actually a Brian Callen bit. You get overcome, and you just have to kiss him. Ken’s a funny guy.
Tribeca Film: Just how raunchy is the movie? The Hangover-raunchy?
BC: The movie is definitely a hybrid. Each section has a completely different tone. Our section is more raunchy comedy. The others are more coming of age, and heartfelt, all revolving around this very quirky girl, Mary.
THC: She’s the emissary who crosses back and forth from one section to the other. Then she picks up these bohemian protester animal-rights types, and they tag along with her. She rides with them—well, they are sort of her transport—and they get caught up with her passion and her pursuit of love. Then there is a converging narrative at the end where [all the stories] are woven together.
BC: It’s a quirky comedy and a road movie. The other thing that’s pretty great is that it’s poking fun at the media—certainly our storyline is—the inundation of the mindset of the populace. Everyone is obsessed with Fox, MSNBC, etc.: the news has taken over episodic TV in certain respects, and the movie is poking fun at that.
THC: Look at how many different networks ran the Michael Jackson memorial. Clearly, it warranted media attention, but when it was on, I flipped around and it was on five networks at once! It is sort of amazing, this flashpoint fascination with whatever is happening. It’s whatever is at the explosive point and that’s all there is. And as soon as someone decides a story is over, it’s absolutely over. It’s a good part of the storytelling [in the film]—how quickly we move on.
By the way, you should know that while we’ve been on the phone, I peed in my backyard.
BC: And just to clarify, he’s renting that place.
THC: I peed in the rented backyard.
BC: Oh, I see it just popped up on TMZ, Tom. I like that shirt. I’m reading some of the threads now. They want us to “Rate his flow.”
Tribeca Film: Thomas, you were a radio DJ and you did voiceover work. Did you ever consider becoming a newscaster? Or doing the weather, etc.? to pay the bills?
THC: It’s funny—both Bradley and Sandy were talking about how I could cross over.
BC: One of the many talents this individual has is being an anchor. On the set, the script would be rewritten, and he was able to learn chunks of dialogue in about 30 seconds. Half of it would be improvised, and he sounded like any network you would turn on any day. In another actor’s hands, we would have needed 5-6 days of shooting.
THC: I worked in radio during college. Newscasting doesn’t seem that interesting, though. Reporting on wars, maybe…
BC: It takes a certain breed. I just got back from Afghanistan, where I was on a tour with Admiral Mullen, and with Bob Woodruff and other journalists. It’s a different mindset—everything is incredibly dangerous, and it’s a whole different energy
Tribeca Film: Were you guys ever outsiders like Mary? Or were you always in with the cool kids?
BC: I would be surprised if any actor would say they were not outsiders. That’s why we are doing what we do. I would bet money on that.
THC: Especially when you come from a rural Texas background. When I used to tell people I dreamed of being in movies when I was young, I might as well have been talking about being an astronaut. I didn’t really have the discipline to seriously pursue anything that required academic achievement. In high school, you like movies, but to think of it as a serious pursuit, it’s not realistic. At least not in Harlingen, Texas.
BC: Or Jenkintown, PA.
Tribeca Film: People in my office want to know, which one of you is better looking in person?
BC: Well, if you’re looking for the rugged, Robert Redford type, Church is your man. If you’re into Barry Manilow, piano-playing kind of dudes, I’m your guy.
THC: No, come on. Like Lawrence of Arabia, Bradley has a Peter O’Toole-esque beauty. So handsome, he sort of defines role-playing in American society. He defies human beauty. You cannot—if you’re a man who is heterosexual like me—I just need to hug him. But that’s as far as it goes. He’s remarkably handsome. Hangover Hottie? Isn’t that what they are calling you?
Tribeca Film: During the Festival, there was definitely buzz around Bradley Cooper sightings, and that was before The Hangover.
BC: One of the things I remember from the Festival is that there was an article that said—here’s the thing, I always wear the same thing all the time—“He’s had the same outfit on for three weeks. Can someone please give him some clothes?” My mother was horrified.
THC: I ran into you in the lobby of the hotel. I said, “Did you just come from working on your car?” You said, “No, from the Vanity Fair party.” You were like, “Dude, I had no idea, I just dropped in.” I think you were in sweatpants and a rumpled t-shirt. I think you had on some sort of shower shoes. (I’m exaggerating now.) But I thought he’d been out running.
BC: Dude, I was so inappropriately dressed.
THC: Naw, you were wearing your movie stardom well.
Tribeca Film: Did you both enjoy the Festival? It seemed like your juries bonded really well.
THC: I am not a short film guy—if that guy exists at all, someone who just lives for short films—
BC: I heard you had to watch 30 films!
THC: But I enjoyed it! I even canceled doing something one night—a party or something—because I wanted to finish watching the movies and make my notes. I really got into it. It was cool to listen to everyone debate—Debra Messing and James Franco—
BC: Mary-Kate Olsen said you had to leave [the Festival] early, but you pulled over somewhere…
THC: During deliberations! I was in the middle of nowhere in Texas, but I had good cell reception, so I pulled over to the side of the road and sat for two hours. It was interesting—Debra Messing and I were on a show together in the mid-90s, and we had different thoughts on everything back then. But this time, it was amazing to me that 10-12 years later, she and I were almost perfectly aligned on our decisions. If Tribeca wants me to come back again, that would be great.
BC: The whole time I was there, I was lobbying to do it again next year. Is that unprecedented? I love movies, and I was so lucky to be on the Narrative Feature jury: About Elly and The Exploding Girl, and North—such great movies! I fought for Zoe Kazan to win [Best Actress for The Exploding Girl]. (Well, no one really disagreed.) But I felt so betrayed when she did not show up on Awards night. Still, I got to hang out with Meg Ryan for three weeks.
THC: Three weeks?
BC: How long is the Festival?
Tribeca Film: Twelve days.
THC: Well, Bradley Cooper was here for three weeks, judging movies around Manhattan. Final Destination 3? He was there, creating his own ballot.
Tribeca Film: What’s next for you both?
THC: I am supposed to start a movie in October with Forest Whitaker and Michael Fassbender—who is in Inglourious Basterds—and Jennifer Connolly. The other thing is John Carter of Mars, a giant Disney sci-fi movie. It’s Andrew Stanton’s [Wall-E] first live-action movie, and it has a $200M budget. He’s really interesting and funny and cool.
BC: Hopefully, Tom and I have a movie together in our future. I am about to go do the A-Team, which means four months in Vancouver. I also did New York, I Love You, with Drea de Matteo and Allen Hughes, who I just love.
THC: Is that a big movie?
BC: No, it’s a take on that French film, Paris, je’taime. A bunch of short films about New York.
Tribeca Film: Hey, you’re a short film guy. You can judge it!
THC: I will judge ye work, Bradley Cooper.