Here’s How Vince Vaughn Changed Bradley Cooper’s Life During ‘Wedding Crashers’

The actor/writer/director had an artistic breakthrough thanks to Jeremy Grey
Here’s How Vince Vaughn Changed Bradley Cooper’s Life During ‘Wedding Crashers’

Bradley Cooper spent the last decade and change proving to all of Hollywood that he’s so much more than some tall, hot guy who cranks out broad-appeal comedies. And he couldn’t have done it without Vince Vaughn

With three nominations at this year’s Academy Awards for his self-directed, self-starred Leonard Bernstein biopic Maestro, Cooper is dangerously close to fully casting off some people’s narrow perception of him as an aughts comedy himbo. Early in his career, Cooper cut his teeth on supporting roles in Sex and the City and Wet Hot American Summer before blasting into mainstream success in smash hits like Wedding Crashers and the Hangover trilogy. Then, like so many handsome funnymen who were pigeonholed before him, Cooper rebranded himself with more serious roles in projects like The Place Beyond the PinesSilver Linings Playbook and the preposterously propagandistic American Sniper. When Cooper wrote, directed and starred in the critical and commercial smash hit A Star is Born in 2018, he appeared to ascend to absolute auteurship, leaving his comedy roles behind on the launch pad.

This week, ahead of next month’s 95th Academy Awards, Cooper joined his fellow nominees for the best actor prize at the SAG Awards (against whom he will also compete at the Oscars) for a roundtable hosted by the SAG-AFTRA Foundation Conversations channel. When asked to identify a single moment on set that changed his career forever, Cooper surprisingly didn't pinpoint his artistic epiphany in any of his awards-worthy films — it came from watching Vince Vaughn repeatedly screw up takes during the making of Wedding Crashers, a movie that’s basically the lower back tattoo of Cooper’s filmography.

Cooper called his casting as Sack Lodge, the hyper-aggressive WASP and would-be groom to Rachel McAdams in Wedding Crashers, a “huge break.” Up until that point in his career, Coopers dreamy-eyed appearance and affable demeanor relegated him to “good guy” roles that were less exemplary of his comedic and dramatic range than the part of a testosterone-soaked frat boy who could put the fear of God into Vince Vaughn with a tackle during touch football.

Despite their on-screen hostilities, Cooper credits Vaughn for teaching him professionalism and persistence, explaining to his fellow nominees, “I was always just trying to get it right on camera. Be present and get it right. … I’m watching Vince Vaughn destroy a scene, just crush it, and then he wants another take. It was the scene where the grandmother is shooting him, takes the gun out and he’s running out. He’s just like, ‘I want to do another one.’”

“Watching Vince Vaughn. …. This huge tough guy, funniest guy, quickest guy. … I was just in awe of this human, this man just failing, just willing to try anything,” Cooper continued. “At some point he was just scatting and caught onto this thing and was doing this song. I loved seeing it, but clearly it wasn’t working. But it didn’t even matter. It was all of us watching this artist just explore with complete abandon. It was like a diamond through the middle of my head going, ‘That’s it! That freedom to just be absolutely willing to fail.’ It changed me forever. That was the moment.”

Clearly, Cooper learned to prioritize a willingness to fail following this experience with Vaughn — though the prosthetics department on Maestro probably could have used a couple more takes.


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