Bradley Cooper Recalls How Will Arnett Helped Him Deal With His Drug And Alcohol Addiction

Bradley Cooper staring in Silver Linings Playbook
(Image credit: The Weinstein Company)

Following the incredible success of The Hangover Bradley Cooper became a massive movie star. Cooper’s been nominated for nine Academy Awards in his career and become part of the biggest movie franchise in the world in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Cooper has seemingly done it all, but he may never have been able to if he hadn’t overcome substance abuse, and Cooper says actor Will Arnett is the reason he was able to do so.

Appearing on the Smartless Podcast, hosted by Arnett, Jason Bateman, and Sean Hayes, Bradley Cooper says that in the early 2000s he was trying to emulate the style of a lot of “angry” comedians of the day, and in doing so had a habit of really hurting people. It seems Cooper did not realize quite how he was impacting people, so it took an honest conversation with Will Arnett for him to see things clearly. Cooper said…

[Will] was like, 'Hey man, do you remember we had dinner the other night? How do you think that went?' 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.' And Will Arnett goes to me, 'You were a real asshole, man. You were a real asshole.' And I was like, ‘What?’ He’s like, ‘Yeah. And by the way, have your dogs gone out to the bathroom?’ I was like, ‘What? What time is it?’ ‘4:00’ ‘Oh no.’ ‘I think they have to go to the bathroom, they’re literally standing by the door.’ And that was like the first time I ever realized I had a problem with drugs and alcohol. And it was Will saying that to me, and I’ll just never forget it. Oh, the guy that I think is doing mean humor is telling me the truth about that, and it changed my entire life. That moment was when I stopped pursuing this mean humor thing.

It’s not an uncommon story for those that exist in Hollywood to go through substance abuse issues. Stars like Ben Affleck have also been open about their struggle with alcohol. Bradley Cooper had achieved some level of success at this point in his career. He had just left his role on Alias, but was still a few years away from joining the cast of The Hangover and true stardom. Cooper says he had basically no self esteem at this point and was using the angry comedy as a shield. 

Will Arnett was one of the people that Bradley Cooper says he looked up to in trying to make that sort of comedy part of his style. Arnett’s comedy can be insulting, but the people that know him know he isn’t really like that. Because of that, he admits that having this conversation with anybody else might not have had the same impact. Because it was Arnett, Cooper really heard the words. He continued later in the interview…

[Will] took that risk of having that hard conversation with me in, like, July of 2004, that put me on a path of deciding to change my life. It was truly Will Arnett. He is the reason.

Bradley Cooper certainly credits Will Arnett for being the reason he was able to get to where he is today. While Arnett is very good at playing the asshole on TV, it seems he’s truly a good guy, and he was able to help Bradley Cooper become one as well. Cooper has a strong list of projects on the horizon that we may very well never have seen if it wasn’t for these events, so fans can all be thankful.

Dirk Libbey
Content Producer/Theme Park Beat

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.