Bradley Cooper Opened Up In Rare Interview About His Substance Abuse Issues

Sarah Kester
: Bradley Cooper attends The 2022 Met Gala Celebrating "In America: An Anthology of Fashion" at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 02, 2022 in New York City.
Getty | Theo Wargo

Bradley Cooper is going deep. In a rare interview, the Hangover actor opened up about being addicted to drugs and alcohol during the early years of his career. At one point, he was afraid for his life.

He credits one person and a powerful conversation for getting him out of that dark hole. Spoiler: it's a familiar face.

Bradley made these candid comments on the "Smartless" podcast, which is hosted by Jason Bateman, Sean Hayes, and Will Arnett.

Will Arnett on a chair reading a book and shrugging to the camera
Giphy | ADWEEK

Will and Cooper actually go way back. They became close friends after living next to each other in 2004.

That was the year a powerful conversation took place between them.

Bradley Cooper looking sad
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On the podcast, Bradley recalled how they had gone to dinner with another friend the previous night. The Arrested Development actor stopped by the next day to ask Cooper how he thought the night had gone.

Cooper thought it went great. He recalled being so funny during it.

Bradley Cooper in A Star is Born
Cinema Blend | Paramount

But Arnett's take was much different. He told Cooper, "You were a real asshole" and called him out for not taking his dogs out. At that point, it was already four p.m. and the dogs were by the door.

"And that was, like, the first time I ever realized I had a problem with drugs and alcohol," Cooper said.

Bradley Cooper clapping
Giphy | SAG Awards

"And it was Will saying that to me, and I’ll just never forget it." This realization forced him to face the harsh reality that he was hiding behind a fake, funny persona.

“I was so lost and I was addicted to cocaine — that was the other thing,” Bradley said.

Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Garner

Struggling to make it in Hollywood as an actor didn't help matters. “I severed my Achilles tendon right after I got fired-slash-quit Alias” and had “zero self-esteem," he explained.

The actor had moved to Los Angeles for his role in 'Alias,' the Jennifer Garner drama on ABC.

 Jennifer Garner happily standing on stage at an award show
Giphy | CMA Awards

Being in a new town left Bradley feeling like he was back in high school. "I could not get into any clubs, no girls wanted to really look at me. I was totally depressed."

The one upside to these unfortunate experiences is that he went through them before hitting it big in Hollywood.

Bradley Cooper in The Hangover
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This happened at 36 in his role in The Hangover. He said he made "a major breakthrough" at age 29 to 33/34.

He was finally feeling comfortable in his own skin.

The Hangover cast in elevator
The Sun | Paramount

He could "stand in front of somebody, and breathe, and listen and talk." This gave him the perspective to see that it was Will who gave him the wake-up call he needed.

"Will is the reason — he took that risk of having that hard conversation with me, in like July of 2004, that put me on a path of deciding to change my life."

Will Arnett on Arrested Development bringing his brother in for a hug
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When it comes to his self-esteem, the actor called it a "lifelong exploration."

He explained that it wasn't until a year and a half ago that he figured out he still felt "so lost."

Bradley Cooper at Met Gala
Giphy | E!

But instead of going down the same rabbit hole of drugs and alcohol, he sees a therapist to process these feelings.

He also credited fatherhood for helping him.

Bradley Cooper in an interview with his index finger on his mouth
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Bradley shares his five-year-old daughter, Lea, with his former partner, model Irina Shayk.

"Every single thing is absolutely shaded by, or brought into glorious colors, by the fact that I get to be a father to a wonderful human being."

For more of Bradley's interview, listen to it here.