The Oscar nominated actor has been candid about his long journey to sobriety and the many struggles that brought him there. Recently, Cooper opened up in an interview with Vanity Fair about the unique challenge he faced while filming the Clint Eastwood film American Sniper.
In the film, the 39 year old actor plays the role of a real life Navy SEAL named Chris Kyle who wrote a best selling memoir about his experience as a sniper. The film is closely based on the memoir, and posed a very unique challenge to the actor who had to dramatically alter his body in a short amount of time in order to prepare for the role.
Cooper says he had only three months to bulk up his body to the size of a Navy SEAL's. That meant gaining about 30 pounds of muscle in a very short amount of time.
Cooper knew that he could bulk up with the help of drugs, making it easier to quickly achieve the dramatic results he was going for. But taking those drugs would mean giving up his 10 years of hard earned sobriety, and perhaps even putting his future sobriety in jeopardy as well.
In the end, Cooper decided to take the more challenging route of bulking up naturally with exercise and diet. He worried that the results wouldn't be as good, but in the end his body cooperated with his efforts quite nicely.
In the Vanity Fair interview Cooper discusses the physical, as well as mental challenges he faced while preparing for the role of Chris Kyle. His struggles that come with his father's recent death as well as maintaining a sober lifestyle have led him to a better place.
He says that experiencing loss in life has taught him to be more compassionate toward others and grateful for the things he does have. Cooper has embraced his own aging as a positive process of becoming a wiser, more balanced person. He also takes the wisdom and experiences he's gained over the years into challenging roles, such as the one in American Sniper.
Cooper made the decision to get sober when he was 29 years old and at an all time low. He was suffering from a self induced head injury after purposely bashing his head into concrete while partying. He said he did it to impress others and prove that he was a tough guy.
Instead, Cooper ended up in the hospital feeling like a fool and knowing that something needed to change. His drug and alcohol use had gotten out of hand and he felt that it would interfere with his acting career.
Cooper admits that he was very self conscious during that time. He was always concerned about other people's opinions and would try to change himself to fit their expectations. Working in Hollywood made him nervous, especially when he was around other actors.
After that night of partying, Cooper felt that enough was enough. His potential as an actor was being threatened by his drug and alcohol use. In order to move ahead with his career, Cooper knew he had to get sober and stay that way for good.
He found that his self consciousness disappeared once alcohol and drugs were out of the picture. He accepted himself the way he was and wasn't afraid of showing it to anybody he worked with. Cooper is now one of Hollywood's leading men.