The actor, 48, spoke candidly about his sobriety journey during a recent episode of National Geographic’s Running Wild with Bear Grylls: The Challenge. Speaking to host Bear Grylls, Cooper reflected on when he felt like he first rose to fame.
“The Hangover was pretty career changing,” he said, referring to his hit film franchise. “I was 36 when that happened so I was already in the game for 10 years just banging around, so I didn’t get lost in fame.”
When Grylls asked if he had any “wild years”, Cooper confessed that he did “in terms of alcohol and drugs”, which he said had “nothing to do with fame”. He then pointed out how grateful he was to get sober, which he has been for nearly 20 years.
“I was lucky. I got sober at 29 years old, and I’ve been sober for 19 years. I’ve been very lucky,” he said.
Cooper also described how his experiences with addiction helped him throughout his career, specifically when he played country rockstar Jackson Maine - who was battling a drug and alcohol addiction - in the 2018 film A Star is Born.
“It made it easier to be able to really enter in there,” he said. “And thank goodness I was at a place in my life where I was at ease with all of that, so I could really let myself go.”
The Silver Linings Playbook star went on to praise the opportunities he’s had throughout his career, adding: “I’ve been very lucky with the roles I’ve had to play. It’s been a real blessing. I hope I get to keep doing it.”
This isn’t the first time the actor’s opened up about getting sober at the start of his career. During an appearance on Jason Bateman and Sean Hayes’ Smartless podcast in June 2022, Cooper discussed how much he was mentally struggling during his addiction, recalling that he had “zero self-esteem” and didn’t think he was “hurting anybody” because he felt like he was “worthless”.
“I was so lost, and I was addicted to cocaine,” he explained, noting how he had also “severed [his] Achilles tendon” and “quit” the show Alias in the early 2000s. Cooper also shared that when he moved to Los Angeles to film Alias - which aired from 2001 to 2006 - he felt like he was “back in high school”.
“I could not get into any clubs, no girls wanted to look at me. I was totally depressed,” he said, adding how he didn’t feel success until he starred in The Hangover at age 36.
He went on to say that, as he’s focused on staying sober with the help of his busy schedule, he’s also been encouraged to reach out to his peers for help. In addition to acting, Cooper is also a father to six-year-old daughter Lea, whom he shares with ex Irina Shayk.
“Here’s another thing about being sober and having humility is, like, I realise I can’t do this movie and take care of Lea without any help,” he said. “So, literally tonight, like minutes away, someone is coming that’s gonna stay in New York and help out until the end of the shoot - which I never would have done, but thank goodness I’m doing it.”
Elsewhere in the Running Wild with Bear Grylls: The Challenge episode, Cooper also made a rare comment about raising his daughter. The American Sniper star revealed how his approach to fatherhood has changed after his own father, Charles Cooper, passed away in 2011.
“I mean, you learn from your predecessor’s mistakes and I’ll make tons that hopefully Lea will learn from and then, being rigorous with myself to grow, to help unburden her with any of my bulls***,” he explained.
If you or someone you know is suffering from drug addiction, you can seek confidential help and support 24-7 from Frank, by calling 0300 123 6600, texting 82111, sending an email or visiting their website here.
In the US, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration can be reached at 1-800-662-HELP.
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