I saw “American Sniper” this weekend. Say what you want about how it either glorifies or minimizes the lives and sacrifices of military servicemen. That’s debatable, but one thing I think we can agree is that Bradley Cooper shows he is deserving of this year’s Oscar nomination–and may in fact, walk away with it this year. I’m no movie buff, but I can say with confidence that Cooper’s acting shows a full range of complexity and audacious genius, with dashing good looks to match. But it isn’t his extensive acting catalog that has me inspired, although it is just that. No, what gave me hope is where he started, and where he is now.
You see, Bradley Cooper earned his first degree in 1997, just one year after I’d earned mine, in the same major I did. Yes, Bradley Cooper and I have something in common: We both have undergraduate degrees in English.
Sure, there are hundreds and thousands more college graduates with the same degree as me and Brad (in my mind we’re on nickname basis now). And sure, there and hundreds and thousands of us with degrees in English who don’t have careers that light a match in comparison to the shining brilliance Brad has. Granted, those things are true. But what gave me hope was something beyond what Brad does on stage or on screen. What gave me a shot of exhilaration was Cooper’s mindset; his belief that if a door was opened for him, once through it, he would “bring it.” Quoted by many. it is a mantra I too live by, it’s just my opportunity hasn’t aligned with my preparation and passion. But it is inevitable. And I will be ready.
And I will “BRING IT!”
And yet, it wasn’t the movie that showcased Cooper’s wide-ranging talent that lit a match to my own smoldering fire burning within. And it was something that viewers of the interview were only shown just but a glimpse. It was Cooper’s almost transfiguration in his role as the “Elephant Man” playing now on Broadway. There’s no makeup. There’s no makeover. It’s just him and what looks like an oversized diaper as he portrays, he actually took on the life of Mr. Joseph Merrick. It was captivating to see, and they only showed about 20 seconds of the performance. The man is phenomenal.
I am hopeful after watching his latest box office smash that the sky is indeed the limit for him, and also, for me. What a complicated career our military live to serve, protect, and defend our country, and what balls Bradley took for even accepting the role! When asked during the 60 Minutes interview if he thought the film was political, he answered that he didn’t see it as political, but then re-framed his answer by adding a question: “Isn’t everything political?” And, after dipping my toe in the world of politics by writing what I thought was a harmful letter to a Chicago mayoral candidate, I also learned that answer. Yes–any and everything can be political.
You can click here to read the letter if you’d like.
I love actors like Bradley Cooper who show us in their talent and genius that we can be anything we believe. It’s an old expression: If the mind can conceive it and believe it, you can achieve it. And yet we know that not everyone has the mental fortitude to do that.
But that’s what great actors do. They take us on a journey. They show us aspects about human life and love. They make us believe in ourselves. They give us hope.
Bradley gave that to me tonight.
His date for this year’s trip to the Oscars? His mom. She will be with him once more as she has been for the last two years. And just as I have my commonality with Brad, I now also have one with his mom. She said she believes next Sunday is his night. And you know what mom? (She and I are at the “mom” level now too). I think you’re right. That will be Bradley Cooper’s Oscar winning night.
Sure tonight, many not know my name. But if my commonalities with Brad are any proof of my future, five years from now this will be a different story for me too. It was just but a mere five years ago that people didn’t even recognize the name Bradley Cooper. And now look!
Thank you Brad.
As we say over in the sanctified church when it comes to blessings, miracles, and the power of God—
Click here if you missed Cooper’s interview on 60 Minutes with Steve Kroft.
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