Unfortunately, I’m never all that surprised when I hear that yet another famous person has a history of struggling with addiction. Getting famous is an intense, tricky thing — whether you’re trying and failing or trying and succeeding, drugs and alcohol are super accessible and super appealing in a lot of really misleading ways.
But as sadly common as it’s become to hear of celebrities who have gone down that road, I feel like it’s becoming just as common to hear about people like Bradley Cooper, who went were able to come back from it and speak intelligently about it. Speaking to GQ for their cover story recently, Bradley spoke in a limited way about his past, saying he got clean at age twenty-nine because “if I continued it, I was really going to sabotage my whole life.”
He was already working on projects at that point, having appeared on Alias with Jennifer Garner, a part that got smaller and smaller every season, until he asked J.J. Abrams to write him off altogether. When asked if he thought his addictions had an effect on his work, Bradley says:
“I mean, it has to have. And to this day, of course, because it’s a life experience. And all I do is bring life experience. That’s all anybody really does. It’s inescapable.”
He makes it clear that he was never late to set or absent entirely, but also makes the point that ‘work was getting fucked up.’ I think it’s important for people to realize that even if you’re technically functioning through your addiction, it’s coming out somewhere; it has to be. There’s no way you’re bringing your whole self if part of that self is struggling with drugs and alcohol, and I’m really glad that Bradley made that distinction.
“The one thing that I’ve learned in life is the best thing I can do is embrace who I am and then do that to the fullest extent, and then whatever happens, happens. The more steps I do to not do that, the farther I am away from fulfilling any potential I would have. So the answer to that question, then, is: Yes, of course it hindered the work.”
I’m certainly not glad that Bradley had to go through such a dark time, but I’m thrilled that he was able to come through it so impressively, and really prove to himself as well as others that you can go from that rock-bottom, throwing your life away place to being nominated for a goddamn Oscar if you really commit yourself to getting healthy and being your best self.
And that even when and if you do get to the Oscar place, you still don’t have to regret the dark place, because it’s all connected. I think that’s a super mature view, and I give major kudos to Monsieur Cooper. Keep at it, buddy, you’re great.
(Photo: Andres Otero / WENN.com)