CliqueClack Flicks

The Words – Interview with Bradley Cooper, Brian Klugman, Lee Sternthal [Audio]

CliqueClack sits down with Philadelphia homeboys, Bradley Cooper, Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal in a pressroom interview to discuss the creative process for acting/writing/directing 'The Words.'


It’s an odd little movie, in the sense that your character is supposedly looking back in time, but it’s not REALLY your character – it’s the words and the novel that you found. What was the appeal about this role?

Bradley Cooper: The appeal sort of revealed itself as the moviemaking process went on. The truth is, it was initially these two guys (points to Brian and Lee). Brian has been my closest friend since I was a little kid, and it was really just to do anything for him. Then the one who wound up benefiting the most was myself, because I wound up playing a guy in a way I had never really done on film. It’s a sort of quiet exploration, and simple, because I felt so safe with them as directors. They allowed me to open up. Whenever you feel safe on a set you really can explore more and more. I was able to do that with them, and that was a surprise to me. One thing I really liked about this guy (Rory) was that I thought you could really relate to him, if you could get past the moral dilemma. He’s not just a stock character who’s super ambitious and who’ll do anything to get ahead. It’s quite the opposite. He’s actually a good writer which I think is a nice hook to it. In that scene with Ron Rifkin, we learn that he’s very talented. He just hasn’t written something that’s marketable yet. His fatal flaw is his lack of patience and he feels that time is running out, which I can certainly relate to. Time being the biggest enemy in some respects. He finally sees his wife look at him and speak to him in  the ways he’s always dreamt, and he just doesn’t have the heart to say that’s not me. And that just snowballs into this world, all of a sudden, that becomes his reality.

You come home often, what was it like to be able to share this triumph with family and friends?

Bradley Cooper: Thank you for saying it’s a triumph, because I feel that way. I honestly wake up these days feeling very grateful. It’s like a dream. I keep waiting to wake up. Because when you’re a kid, you want to create with your friends, and that’s what I got to do. Brian and I used to sit in my house in ridle (???), watching Apocalypse Now and The Deer Hunter and all these overboard movies, and just wanted to be in that world and create that world. Then to be able to be here in Philly, talking about this movie that they wrote in 1999, that I saw a reading of when I first moved to L.A. – that I could help being a part of making that a reality is heaven.

You play a struggling writer. How did your experience as a struggling actor inform your portrayal and the moral dilemma that your character is confronted with?

Bradley Cooper: Like anything, you try to bring whatever you can from your own life so that you can make yourself believe the lines you’re saying that have been written for you. Absolutely rejection, on a daily basis, multiple times, as an actor, starting out and even still to today, is something you have to become accustomed to. Having an actual physical embodiment of it in papers that he collected is a little masochistic (laughs). He had that whole pile of rejection letters that he just held on to. But the moral dilemma was not something that I could relate to, in terms of the specific thing. He robbed himself of the experience of creating. The only thing that I could relate it to is that it’s like playing a tennis match and hoping your opponent double faults so you can win the point, as opposed to wanting him to get the serve in so you could beat it in the point. So I was thinking, ‘Why do I want him to double fault? I just want to win? No, I want to play tennis.’ It’s really similar.

This is your second time acting in and producing a film about a writer struggling for inspiration. What is it about that that you find so attractive?

Bradley Cooper: I was executive producer, not producer, on both movies, so I wasn’t there for the inception of either movie, in terms of the creation of the idea. So it’s really just coincidence that I happen to play two writers. But I do think that Eddie Morra and Rory Jansen are both interesting, compelling characters. I see them as very different, though. Eddie is Rory if Rory was 10 years older and had given up on writing. There would be no moment at dinner with his wife, saying I’m not who I thought I am. When we meet Eddie at the beginning of ‘Limitless,’ he knows he’s not who he thought he was. All he knows is he’s worthless. Rory is much more idealistic when we meet him, and impatient and wanting and hungry, so I see them as two different, complete characters. They just happen to both be writers.

Were you at all star struck when you first met Jeremy Irons?

Bradley Cooper: I’m definitely a victim of the magical essence of movies. I still to this day feel like I did when I was 10 years old going to the movies. I love when the lights go down and the movie’s about to start. The first time I met Jeremy and heard his voice in real time it was incredible. And then very quickly what starts to happen is they become human. That process is amazing, Robert De Niro is the best example of that for me. I love him today, and he’s really just Bob, and I never thought that that would be possible! He’s the reason I became an actor, in many ways. But we’ve done two movies. That process is so fascinating. I think it happened for all of us with Jeremy, and it’s because these guys – like Liam Neeson and Christopher Walken – are so present and down to earth and make you feel at ease. In terms of acting with them, it’s just effortless because they ARE so good and you are in such great hands. When you’re acting with a great actor, it’s not as if you’re playing against them in a sport. They’re on your team, so you want the best actors. I don’t want to be playing against Jeremy Irons; I want to be playing with him. Acting is a collaborative sport, and what you’re up against is telling the story. So you’re all on the same team.

Can you talk about any time you spent growing up at the Jersey Shore?

Bradley Cooper: I grew up going to Brigantine, New Jersey. We used to go there when the Brigantine castle existed. It burnt down. My grandfather bought a house there in 1960, and they would go crabbing all the time, so we spent our summers in Brigantine.

How did you get involved with this project after all these years?

Bradley Cooper: They decided they wanted to direct it about four years ago, and asked me if I’d want to play Rory. I said of course, and that was it; we just tried to find a date. They had financers and we just tried to get it made. I talk to Brian four or five times a day, every day, so I was aware of the whole process.

Being called the sexiest man alive by people magazine – does that have any concrete advantage in the movie world?

Bradley Cooper: I don’t think so. I think it’s just the butt of a joke more than anything.

Photo Credit: CBS Films, An Nicholson

Categories: Features, General, News

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