Bradley Cooper got candid about his struggles with drug addiction in his 20s and how Will Arnett made him realize he needed to get sober.
Cooper, 47, discussed his ongoing difficulty with “self-esteem” on Arnett’s “SmartLess” podcast with Jason Bateman and Sean Hayes Monday and how his longtime friend jumpstarted his journey to addressing his mental health.
The Oscar-nominated actor shared that when he moved to Los Angeles for his role in “Alias” he felt like he was “back in high school,” which impacted his self-esteem. “I couldn’t get into any clubs, no girls wanted to look at me. I was totally depressed.”
He was later “fired” from “Alias” and dealing with an injury to his Achilles’ tendon.
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In order to overcompensate for his insecurities, Cooper said he adopted a “mean humor” based on popular comedians at the time. However, he ended up discovering that he was just plain mean to others.
The “Nightmare Alley” star opened up a dinner party with Arnett when he was 29 that made him realize he hit “rock bottom.”
“Will was like, ‘Hey man, do you remember we had dinner the other night? How do you think that went?'” Cooper recalled. “I remember being at the dinner thinking I was so funny, and I thought these two guys who were my heroes thought that I was so funny. I was like ‘I thought it was great. I thought I was killing.'”
He added: “Will Arnett was like, ‘You were a real (expletive), man. You were a real (expletive).'”
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Cooper continued: “That was the first time I ever realized I had a problem with drugs and alcohol. The guy that I think is doing mean humor is telling me the truth and it changed my entire life.”
He also recalled Arnett asking him if he had taken his dog out yet and it was already 4 pm That was a pivotal moment for Cooper.
“I was so lost and I was addicted to cocaine,” Cooper shared. “Will took that risk of having that hard conversation with me in July of 2004 and that put me on a path of deciding to change my life. It truly was Will Arnett. He is the reason.”
He also noted how “grateful” he is to have started the journey before he reached peak fame.
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The “Silver Linings Playbook” star said between 29 to 34 he worked hard at sobriety and has had an ongoing journey of self-acceptance thanks to therapy.
“Quite honestly today I can sit in front of you and tell you I have self-esteem and it’s not related to any outside thing. I didn’t have that for 46 years,” Cooper said.
Fatherhood to his daughter Lea, whom he shares with his ex-girlfriend Irina Shayk, has also been transformative for the actor.
“Everything changed,” he said. “Every single thing is absolutely shaded by or brought out in glorious colors by the fact that I get to be a father to a wonderful human being. It’s just the absolute greatest thing.”
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Arnett reflected on Cooper’s journey and told his friend, “It has been awesome seeing you in this place and seeing you comfortable, nothing has made me happier.”
“It’s made me happy to see you so happy with who you are,” he added.
If your or someone you know is struggling with substance use disorders, you can call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357. The service is free, confidential and available in English and Spanish.