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Let's be real-- everyone knew Bradley Cooper wasn't going to win an Oscar. His nomination for Best Actor was pretty much a guarantee, given how popular Silver Linings Playbook was and how much acclaim he earned for turning in a performance deeper and more heartfelt than many expected of him. But Cooper, his mom, his fellow nominees and every single person attending the Oscars knew perfectly well that he would lose that statue to Daniel Day-Lewis, whose transformation into Abraham Lincoln was the kind of miraculous performance that renders all the competition moot.
So it's hard to know if Cooper is being realistic or just pre-empting his own eventual loss in an interview with British GQ (via The Huffington Post, recalling the death of his father in 2011 and how witnessing that means "I just don't sweat shit anymore." Taking that attitude to the Oscars, which at the time hadn't happened yet, he had this to say:
"I don’t want to win an Oscar. It would change nothing. Nothing. The things in my life that aren’t fulfilled would not be fulfilled. Career-wise, right now, it’s better that I don’t win one. I don’t want to win. I don’t."
Actors who are nominated for Oscars are placed in an impossible situation, expected to campaign for the win-- by attending luncheons and screenings and parties to glad-hand Academy members-- but not to appear to want it too badly lest they seem desperate. Actors aren't supposed to run around begging for the award, but anyone who dares to suggest it's not that important or they don't really want it-- like Joaquin Phoenix in this famous interview-- are greeted with total shock. Cooper's attitude, though, seems perfectly reasonable. It really wouldn't be smart for his career to win an Oscar in his first big dramatic role, setting up a standard that wouldn't really go well with the upcoming Hangover 3, or any other silly movie he wants to make. As an Oscar nominee Cooper has found a new level of respect, a lot of job offers, and genuine movie star status. As a winner-- especially a winner who somehow beat Daniel Day-Lewis-- he would have been saddled with expectations surely impossible to meet.
Somewhere deep down, Cooper probably wanted to win an Oscar. Most of us do (even those of us with no discernible movie-making talents). But his attitude, especially born as it is from perspective gained after a parent's death, makes perfect sense. Here's hoping that when his next Oscar nomination comes along, the timing will be better-- and he can be free to want it fully.