Bradley Cooper must be feeling the pressure to perform these days. It’s been months since he handed over his Sexiest Man in the World crown to Channing Tatum, and basically traded it in for an Oscar nomination. But once you have an “-iest” title, it’s really hard to go to just being a nominee (and face it, though WE love his performance in Silver Linings Playbook best of all, he’s up against Daniel Day Lewis). Meanwhile, he’s watching his much younger co-star Jennifer Lawrence grab all sorts of “sexiest” labels while also becoming a favorite to take home her own Oscar. So we think we understand why Bradley is stepping things up a bit in the PR department. And no, he’s not doing more interviews in French or talking about his uneven boobs on late-night shows. He’s getting all serious about his Silver Linings role as being very important for sufferers of mental illness.
On last night’s Hardball, he told Chris Matthews that people with bipolar disorder have told him, “I actually feel like this film sees who I am,” he said. “Because it’s heavily stigmatized. It’s not a very treatable disease. It’s a condition, that’s sort of, if we liken it to cancer, diagnosed at stage four. Well, that’s way too late. So hopefully, a movie like this will help it become, you know, [diagnosed] in the onset.”
Right after making that appearance, Cooper went to speak to 50 military vets after a screening of his film at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in D.C. And then this morning he was scheduled to speak about mental health at the Center for American Progress.
All this is while Jennifer Lawrence is doing shots of tequila backstage at Jimmy Kimmel Live and narrating for Piers Morgan how she lost her “pants” at the SAG Awards. Which is to say, is it necessary for Bradley to make the movie into something so serious? This is all reminding us a little too much of Robert Downey Jr.’s hierarchy of Oscar-bait disabilities in Tropic Thunder.
When Silver Linings Playbook was released back in November, there was a lot of back and forth about whether it presented an accurate view of bipolar disorder.
“[Cooper's character Pat's] mental health depends (and guess where this is going in the story) on his ability to control his behavior through force of will and the ability to make emotional connections based on empathetic and mature choices (as if mental illness itself might not be an insurmountable obstacle to those connections and choices). The movie will be a hit with those who think that hyperactivity is just a failure of discipline and depression merely a bad attitude,” wrote the New Yorker’s Richard Brody.
Some mental health professionals thought David O. Russell’s movie (based on a novel by Matthew Quick) did a pretty good job … for a movie, anyway. “It’s Hollywood, so there are still going to be things that are there more for the story than for accuracy,” Harvard Medical School psychiatrist Dr. Steven Schlozman told Vulture. “But they did a very nice job of depicting manic depressive illness or bipolar disorder in somebody who’s quite bright, and who has limited but present insight on it.”
Dr. Michael Blumenfield, president of the American Academy of Psychoanalysis and Dynamic Psychiatry, told Medscape that though Silver Linings has very realistic elements, and he actually enjoyed it, he wouldn’t necessarily prescribe it to patients with the disorder. “It’s a movie. And you have to enjoy it as just that. If I were to recommend this to my patients, I would be telling them, ‘This is you. See how it worked out?’ And I don’t think I could do that. To recommend it is to say that this is a typical person with bipolar.”
So, OK, we don’t think Bradley Cooper will be curing people anytime soon. But if he manages to raise the proverbial awareness without taking himself too seriously, well, that is pretty sexy, not to mention award-worthy.
[Photo: The Weinstein Company]