Bradley Cooper: How 'Licorice Pizza' Convinced Me Not to 'Give Up Acting'

Crisis averted. Bradley Cooper revealed that he previously considered saying goodbye to acting — until an offer to star in Licorice Pizza changed his mind.

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“The reason that I didn’t give up acting is Paul Thomas Anderson,” Cooper, 47, told Mahershala Ali during an interview for Variety‘s Actors on Actors on Tuesday, January 25. “When he called me to maybe be in his movie, Mahershala, I mean really, I think I’d open up a door in his movie. I’d do anything.”

Anderson, 51, directed the coming-of-age film, in which Cooper, 47, plays Jon Peters. The critically acclaimed movie — which also features Alana Haim, Cooper Hoffman and Sean Penn — was shot during the coronavirus pandemic in 2020.

“We broke from [filming] Nightmare Alley, I was able to grow a beard and Searchlight was praying that I didn’t get COVID, because we had to go back and continue Nightmare Alley, but I was like, ‘There’s no way I’m not doing it.’ That was the first movie back from COVID,” the Academy Award nominee added. “And Jon Peters was the beginning of the movie, so I started with everybody else, which was wonderful, rather than coming in when everybody’s already downriver. I spent three and a half weeks with Paul. I watched all the camera tests. He was teaching me all about lenses, things I never knew. He’s incredible.”

Even though the Pennsylvania native has been in the business since 1999, he still continues to have plenty of firsts on set. Earlier this month, Cooper opened up about filming his first nude scene for Guillermo del Toro‘s Nightmare Alley.

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“I remember reading in the script and thinking, ‘He’s a pickled punk in that bathtub and it’s to story. You have to do it,’” the A Star Is Born director shared on KCRW‘s The Business, referring to the full-frontal scene as being a “big deal” for him.

The Silver Linings Playbook star noted that he agreed to take on the challenge because there was “nothing gratuitous” about what was portrayed, adding, “Because the content of what the movie is, what we were exploring, in order to do it in a real way, it demanded that we’d be naked emotionally and soulfully.”

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However one part of the process that threw Cooper for a loop: stripping down in front of costar Toni Collette.

“I can still remember that day just [being] naked in front of the crew for six hours, and it was Toni Collette’s first day,” he recalled. “It was just like, ‘Whoa.’ It was pretty heavy.”

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