Bulked-up Bradley Cooper 'put on like 40 pounds' to play Navy SEAL

Image: Bradley Cooper Vladimir Labissiere / Splash News
Cooper bulked up to play Chris Kyle, who claimed to be the deadliest sniper in American military history.

He sported a wicked perm for his Oscar-nominated role in "American Hustle," but now Bradley Cooper is focused on his pecs to get into character for his next movie.

Set to star as Chris Kyle in "American Sniper," Cooper was sporting a beard and bulging through a tight workout shirt in a photograph snapped by Splash News recently.

Actor Eric Close, who stars opposite Cooper in the Clint Eastwood-directed film, told E! News that Cooper, 39, "put on like 40 pounds. He's really been working hard. He looks great. He's really taken on this character. ... He really takes this story personally and wants to do an honorable job for Chris' memory and for his family."

Kyle was a United States Navy SEAL who claimed in his best-selling autobiography that he was the most lethal sniper in American military history. He served multiple tours of duty in the Iraq War. Kyle was shot to death at a Texas gun range on Feb. 2, 2013, at age 39.

Cooper, the star of all three "Hangover" films, is riding a wave of critical success after earning Academy Award nominations for his last two roles, in 2013's "American Hustle" and in 2012's "Silver Linings Playbook."

"American Sniper" is expected to come to theaters in 2015.

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