Bradley Cooper Reveals Tragedy That Prepared Him to Play a Navy Seal

Bradley CooperBradley Cooper has shown some serious acting chops throughout his career, as evidenced by stellar performances in movies like Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle, but it took something extra to play Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle in Clint Eastwood's upcoming American Sniper.

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The Oscar nominated 39-year-old said that some of his greatest struggles in life helped prepare him to portray the real-life Kyle, whose memoir, American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History, the movie is based on. The book topped the New York Times best-seller list for 13 weeks in 2013.

In a cover interview for the January issue of Vanity Fair, he shared that the difficulty of overcoming his father's death prepared him for the emotionally taxing role.

"Losing someone close to me. Going through love and loss ... knowing what's important," Cooper said about losing his dad. He continued, "Realizing that the bottom line is that all I got is me, so it's about time to stop trying to be something that I think you would want me to be. Or that would give me what I think I need."

"As you get older, thank God, your body deteriorates, but your soul sort of flourishes," he shared, about how life's ups and downs have prepared him for meatier roles in Tinsel Town.

Speaking of beefy ... playing a Navy SEAL required the Hollywood hottie to gain a lot of muscle in very little time. He's been sober since 2004, and after having battled addiction, he opted not to use stims and hit the gym hardcore instead.

"I did it naturally because I've been sober for 10 years and didn't want to do anything," he admitted. "I had a realistic conversation. 'Can I do this in three months naturally? Can I gain 30 pounds of f--king muscle?' I didn't know if I would be able to do it or not. Thank God -- luckily -- my f--king body reacted fast."

Talk about your method acting! That must've been some pretty hardcore training, to get him that in shape so quickly.

Now that he's accomplished himself in front of the camera, Cooper revealed that he'd like to spend more time behind it too. "I always knew I wanted to be in the trenches with a director making the movie," he confessed. "I always felt that's what I'm supposed to be doing. I always knew deep down that if I'm not going to do that then I'm not too long for this business."

We just hope that doesn't mean he won't continue to show up onscreen.

How much do you think actors draw on their real-life experiences to play a role?

 

Image via Vanity Fair

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