People Magazine’s choice for 2011’s Sexiest Man Alive has caused some backlash. All of 75 people – count ’em – signed on to a new Facebook page vowing to protest outside People’s New York City office building because they think Ryan Gosling should have won the title over Bradley Cooper. (I’d say these people should get a life, but I’m getting ready to write 20 reasons why I disagree with them.)
Don’t get me wrong: I concur that Ryan is sexy (not to mention a brilliant actor) and deserving of the title, as are plenty of other actors. (It’s interesting to note that Ryan and Bradley recently wrapped a Derek Cianfrance movie together called The Place Beyond the Pines. Maybe they’ll laugh about all this some day over a cup of coffee.)
It’s disturbing, though, to discover that many people think of Bradley Cooper as the characters he plays. “Isn’t he kind of a jerk?” continues to haunt the man despite so much evidence to the contrary. They never saw him play “the nicest guy alive” on Alias earlier in his career, so they assume he’s a jerk like his character in The Hangover or, worse, a near psychopath like his character in Wedding Crashers.
Here’s a reality check: Just because you’re talented at playing a jerk doesn’t mean you’re a jerk. In fact, if you’re playing a jerk in a comedy, you’ll probably have a hard time finding the funny if you’re actually a jerk. “Excuse me, Mr. Director, why is this funny? The guy, like, sleeps with his girlfriend’s sister. I do that all the time, so what’s the big deal?” (Of course, if the director were Brett Ratner, he’d say, “You know, I don’t get it either.” But I digress; that’s a separate article.)
So, ladies and gentleman of the jury, allow me to present evidence in support of People Magazine’s 2011 choice for Sexiest Man Alive and why I’ll keep hangin’ with Mr. Cooper.
1. He’s modest and self-deprecating. In this interview with Ellen Degeneres, she has a difficult time convincing him that he’s even good looking. He just can’t see it, is clearly uncomfortable with the praise, and thinks the idea of his being named Sexiest Man Alive is a big joke.
2. He doesn’t take himself too seriously. Bradley is an excellent storyteller in interviews, and he loves to poke fun at himself. One of his favorite stories is about how he embarrassed himself in front of President and Michelle Obama. Fast forward to 7:30 in this video from The Graham Norton Show in England to hear the story.
3. He speaks French fluently. Need I say more? He learned the language while studying abroad. If he spoke German, let’s be honest, it wouldn’t be nearly as sexy. But French? Mon dieu!
4. He’s appreciative of the opportunities he’s been given in his career. After having been a student at the Actors Studio, Bradley was the first graduate to be interviewed on Inside the Actors Studio with James Lipton. Bradley was so moved by this milestone that he could barely speak … which brings me to #5.
5. He isn’t afraid that crying in public will make him less of a man. He continually lost control during his Inside the Actors Studio interview while expressing his gratitude to his teachers, who, he says, taught him how to feel relaxed for the first time in his life. To us girls, this is sexy indeed.
6. He cares about his craft as an actor. This is another little item that came to light as a result of the Inside the Actors Studio interview. His teachers indicated he was one of the most dedicated students they had ever taught.
7. He pays tribute to his parents. Bradley’s father passed away earlier this year, and he now wears his father’s wedding ring as a tribute. He spends a great deal of time with his mother, escorting her to events and premieres and generally making sure she’s doing well in the aftermath of losing her husband.
8. He’s gracious with fans and spends time signing autographs, taking photographs for them with their phones. Fans consistently report that he’s friendly and sweet when they meet him.
9. He lends his name and time to causes that matter to him, such as the Alzheimer’s Association, and he filmed a public service message in support of veterans.
10. He’s charitable. Unconfirmed reports surfaced that he (along with other cast members) donated funds to assist a stuntman who was injured during the filming of The Hangover Part II and visited the stuntman regularly in the hospital. It has been recently reported (although unconfirmed) that he donated thousands of dollars worth of coats to the homeless in his hometown of Philadelphia.
11. He’s educated. Bradley is an honors graduate of Georgetown University with an undergraduate degree in English.
12. He does great impressions. On the chairs next to Leno, Letterman, O’Brien, or Fallon, Bradley has performed dead-on impersonations of Christopher Walken, Owen Wilson, and Bill Clinton, among others.
13. He’s naturally funny but claims he isn’t. If you don’t think Bradley Cooper is funny, look on Netflix for an episode of Nip/Tuck called “Manny Skerritt.” In this episode, Bradley plays a vain, superficial, over-the-top actor who is trying to … well, perform an act on himself that is generally considered physically impossible. He commits to the comedy 100%, and if you don’t laugh, I don’t know what to do with you.
14. Evidence indicates that he’s a good friend. He has maintained close friendships with many of his costars, including Robert DeNiro, and Justin Bartha has said that he relies on Bradley’s friendship.
15. He’s an animal lover who has adopted rescue dogs and has even reportedly brought them with him on set.
16. He’s been known to spend hours with interviewers and even cook them dinner. With one interviewer, he played a game in which they competed to see who could think of more film titles starring certain actors. He enjoyed it so much that he asked to keep playing after the camera was turned off.
17. He’s brave. Before making it as an actor, Bradley was one of the hosts of Globe Trekker, which involved intrepid travels to remote parts of the world where he ate guinea pig and suffered from altitude sickness. These days, he rides a motorcycle. He’s also brave as an actor, willing to play a gay sex scene and not afraid to be silly. In this video, he pokes fun at chick flick cliches with He’s Just Not That Into You costars Kevin Connolly and Justin Long.
18. He’s a self-professed romantic who says what he values most in a woman is authenticity. ‘Nuff said.
19. He’s talented outside of acting. I hear he’s a good dancer and singer, but it has been well established in the press that he’s a talented chef, having learned how to cook from his Italian grandmother. It’s one of the reasons he was cast in a short-lived TV series, Kitchen Confidential.
20. He has dimples and almost preternaturally blue eyes (which you can really see in the video that follows), along with other physical characteristics that I have avoided mentioning. Hey, plenty of actors are handsome, but how many of them have all 20 of these attributes?
So, there you have it. I rest my case. And yes, I know too much about Bradley Cooper now and will move on to other things (in between repeat screenings of The Hangover.) But can we just let the man have his moment? It really looks like he’s a good guy who maybe, just maybe deserves it.
ADDENDUM: After having a friendly argument with someone on Twitter (all in fun) about whether 2011 was Bradley’s year or Ryan Gosling’s year, I went to the numbers. Sorry, folks, Ryan’s great, but the numbers don’t lie. Okay, they both had videos go viral this year – Bradley’s was the interview he did in French, and Ryan’s was of the street fight he helped to break up in NYC. Ryan had three movies open in 2011. They opened later in the year than Bradley’s films, but collectively have so far grossed about $156 million. Bradley had two movies open in 2011. They’ve been out longer, and one has gone to DVD sales already. But they have grossed in excess of $330 million (all according to IMDB). You could argue that people didn’t go to The Hangover Part II solely for Bradley, but you could also argue that people didn’t see Ides of March or Crazy Stupid Love solely for Ryan. People did, however, go to Limitless for Bradley. Opening week receipts were $27 million. People also saw Drive for Ryan. Opening week receipts were just over $11 million even though it opened in more theaters. As I said, the numbers don’t lie.