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Bradley Cooper recalls the life-changing conversation that led him to get sober

In a new podcast interview, the actor opens up about the conversation with one famous friend that changed everything.
Bradley Cooper
Bradley Cooper attends The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute benefit gala celebrating the opening of the "In America: An Anthology of Fashion" exhibition on May 2, 2022, in New York.Evan Agostini / AP

Bradley Cooper’s career high continues as the nine-time Oscar-nominated star is currently in production — as actor, writer and director — on the highly-anticipated biopic “Maestro,” about the life and legacy of famed composer Leonard Bernstein. 

But in a recent interview, the 47-year-old focused to an all-time low from his own life, and he revealed the moment it all turned around for him.

Cooper visited the “SmartLess” podcast earlier this week and spoke to hosts Jason Bateman, Sean Hayes and Will Arnett about his early days in show business, when he battled an addiction to drugs and alcohol, as well as a case of severely low self-esteem.

It was a topic one of the hosts already knew quite a bit about.

That's because, back in those days, Cooper had forged a friendship with Will Arnett and the actor-comedian's then-wife, Amy Poehler. Cooper looked up to them and even tried to emulate their biting style of humor at a dinner party.

But it was Arnett who let him know that no one was laughing.

Bradley Cooper, Will Arnett
Actors Bradley Cooper and Will Arnett speak onstage during CinemaCon 2018 "The Big Picture," on April 24, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada.Ethan Miller / Getty Images for CinemaCon

“Will was like, ‘Hey man, do you remember we had dinner the other night?’ He goes, ‘How do you think that went?’” Cooper said. “I remember being at the dinner thinking I was so funny, and I thought these two guys, who were my heroes, thought that I was so funny. ... I was like ‘I thought it was great. I thought I was killing.’"

Arnett's response? "You were a real a--hole, man."

While that comment left Cooper reeling, Arnett looked around his house, at the dogs that needed to go out and at the state of the star and questioned him about it.

“That was like the first time I ever realized I had a problem with drugs and alcohol," Cooper explained. "It was Will saying that to me, and I'll just never forget it. ... It changed my entire life.”

Looking back, he can see how much it needed changing.

"I was so lost, and I was addicted to cocaine," he recalled. “Will is the reason (I overcame it). He took the risk of having that hard conversation with me in July of 2004, and that put me on a path of deciding to change my life."

Arnett wasn't so sure of taking all that credit, but he was certain about something else.

“It has been awesome seeing you in this place and seeing you comfortable," he insisted. "Nothing has made me happier."

It was a favor that Cooper eventually had the chance to pay forward.

In 2020, when Cooper presented Brad Pitt with the best supporting actor honor at the National Board of Review Annual Awards Gala, Pitt noted that it was Cooper who put him on his own road to sobriety.

“I got sober because of this guy,” Pitt told the audience during his acceptance speech. “And every day has been happier ever since.”

Looking toward his friend, Pitt added, “I love you, and I thank you.”

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