The Oscar-nominated actor recounts to Kim Masters on KCRW’s ‘The Business’ that he sat for naked for six hours before the crew on the day Toni Collette’s first day: “It was just like, ‘Whoa.'”
The film, Guillermo del Toro’s Neo-noir Nightmare Alley, Bradley Cooper is the lead character Stanton Carlisle, an ambitious and charming loner who takes the lessons he learned from working at the carnival’s traveling circuit to Manhattan in which he poses as a psychiatrist but is entangled in a web of confusion that includes the love of his life as well as a psychiatrist as an elderly patient of the psychiatrist.
The role demands an enormous amount from the Oscar-nominated actor. Cooper was willing to go deep to play del Toro. “It really is akin to putting on a miner’s kit, hat and flashlight, and looking at each other and then going down in the tunnel, knowing that you may be excavating a route that won’t ever get you to the end that day but you come back up and go down again the next day,” Cooper says to Kim Masters, who is also editor-at-large of The Hollywood Reporter in an installment of the KCRW The Business show. The Business. Cooper said that his director has become an old friend, and they communicate on a regular basis: “Because the content of what the movie is, what we were exploring, in order to do it in a real way, it demanded that we’d be naked emotionally and soulfully.”
Physically, too. The script also calls for Cooper to expose his body in full frontal and backside-partiallyin a scene that shows Stanton Carlisle in a bathtub and performing an intimate relationship in a sexual encounter with Toni Collette’s character. Making the decision to completely remove his clothes on camera was a move Cooper didn’t take lightly and called it “a big deal,” mostly due to the fact that he’s never done this before.
“I recall reading the story and thinking the character is a pickled one in that tub and it’s all in the tell a story. It’s a must to take it on,” he tells Masters. “I can recall that day, just to be naked before the crew for six hours. And it was Toni’s debut day in the spotlight. It was like, “Whoa. It was heavy.”
He also said that he has never challenged the issue, “because there was nothing free about it. It was part of the tell a story.”
Cooper isn’t the only actor performing a natural appearance on the big screen these days. There are numerous stories that call for fully naked nude scenes during the awards season. The actors who have been appearing in major films recently include Benedict Cumberbatch in Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog and Simon Rex in Sean Baker’s Red Rocket.
There’s more to chew over than just flesh in Cooper’s interview in the interview with Masters in The Business. Friday’s episode is one of a conversation in two parts that also focuses the role of Jon Peters in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Licorice Pizza,a performance that earned him an SAG Award nomination for best supporting actor. (His other connection for Peters was the film A Star is Born, the film from 2018, in that Cooper wrote, directed, and was a part of alongside Lady Gaga. This film was an inspiration from the original 1954 film which Peters made a remake of which starred his ex-girlfriend Barbra Streisand back in 1976.)