Limitless
© Rogue Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

Filmgoers remember his performances as the jerk boyfriend Zachary “Sack” Lodge alongside Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson in Wedding Crashers (2005), “Faceman” in the big-screen reincarnation of the ’80s television series The A-Team (2010), and the cult classic Wet Hot American Summer (2001). With his chiseled body and piercing blue eyes, he found success as a leading man in Hollywood, not in the typical eye-candy, Hollywood-hunk way but through the back door of comedy. While he didn’t necessarily start as a comedian, “I know what I think is funny. I know there is music to comedy, and I get this in my roles by osmosis,” he explains.

The A-Team
© 20th Century Fox Film Corp. / Courtesy Everett Collection
Cooper is no stranger to serious roles either. He recently starred opposite Robert De Niro (an actor he grew up idolizing) in the thriller Limitless, where he plays a struggling writer who takes a drug that enables a power for unlimited success. He also starred in films featuring Academy Award winners Natalie Portman in New York, I Love You (2009), Sandra Bullock in All About Steve (2009), and Julia Roberts in the love-story ensemble Valentine’s Day (2010). In addition, he has shared screen time with some of Hollywood’s most attractive ladies, including Renée Zellweger, Scarlett Johansson, Rachel McAdams, and Jennifer Connelly. He also called upon his theater roots and conquered stage fright on Broadway, playing alongside Julia Roberts in Three Days of Rain (an acting process he found much harder than film or television).

When he is not working on his craft, sports are another passion in his life. (Perhaps it’s in the genes, as his late father, Charles, played hoops at Villanova.) A college medalist on the men’s heavyweight crew team at Georgetown, his love of the outdoors and travel was put to good use as host of Treks in a Wild World, where his adventures took him from glacier climbing in the Peruvian Andes to kayaking in Alaska. Filming often takes an actor all over the globe, and as Cooper points out, “Luckily I have a job where I get to travel, as I am a traveler by nature.”

Weekends may find him playing tennis, mountain biking in the Los Angeles canyons, or spending time with his rescue dog, Charlotte. Cooper adopted the dog from a shelter in Compton while working on the show Alias and feels it’s important to rescue older dogs. Cooking is also a favorite pastime, as he worked in restaurants the first half of his life. The experience came in handy when he was cast as Jack Bourdain, a once-famous chef who works at a New York eatery on the Fox television series Kitchen Confidential (2005).

While Cooper has no set plan for his acting future, he details, “I just want to get better and better. I have no plan for acting, and there is no Plan B. My plan is to just keep on working!” As one of the hardest-working actors in show business today, he says he “would love to do a Western, play a soldier, as well as star in period films” and hopes to land the attention of director Baz Luhrmann for the coveted role of Tom Buchanan in The Great Gatsby. Like many well-rounded actors, Cooper also wants to add the role of director to his résumé one day.

Next on tap finds Cooper starring in The Words, a thriller fairy tale about a writer who achieves success after stealing another writer’s work. Co-written by childhood friend and screenwriter Brian Klugman (they have known each other since their school days at Philadelphia’s Germantown Academy), the part was not written specifically with Cooper in mind.

Life these days is filled with hit movies, fame, and the subsequent paparazzi that accompany the movie-star package (and it’s only been a little more than a decade since he entered the acting scene). Gone are the days when he can go about unnoticed in his hometown of Philadelphia, where he still spends half his time, and he proudly admits to “staying in my bedroom where I grew up as a child.” When not traveling for a film, he’s at his home in Venice, outside of Los Angeles, the rest of the year. “Fame has been okay, and it goes in waves,” he explains. “I just got back to Los Angeles and the paparazzi have already started!” He balances this by “living in the present moment” and feels, “I am lucky enough to be in a profession where you have to be completely present with whoever the actor is you are starring opposite. My hope is this practice bleeds into my personal life.”

While it’s taken a decade to become an overnight sensation as a leading man, the humble and anything-but-arrogant actor is the kind of guy men want to hang around with, women swoon over, and audiences adore. Yes, Bradley Cooper has truly arrived.