Bradley Cooper has just called from Las Vegas and he sounds a little tired.
"Hey. How's it going?" he asks casually, his voice a tad ragged. Before you jump to any conclusions about the reason for that raggedness, please know that Cooper -- the Pennsylvania native, Georgetown University graduate and ridiculously busy actor -- is in Vegas for work. He's there shooting "The Hangover Part III," attempting to perform his duties as a member of the Wolf Pack while simultaneously doing a full-court media press to promote "Silver Linings Playbook," a new dramedy based on a novel of the same name that casts him as a bipolar Philadelphia Eagles fan who falls for a mysterious young woman played by Jennifer Lawrence. Depending on which Oscar prognosticators one chooses to believe, the role could transform Cooper from magazine-anointed Sexiest Man Alive into a first-time Academy Award nominee.
In a recent conversation -- one that took place during the final days of his reign as People's Sexiest Man Alive -- Cooper, 37, perked up considerably as he discussed his experience making "Playbook," his feelings about the Eagles and how weird it is to read headlines that say he's dating Rashida Jones. (He isn't. But, for the record, he says she's a "wonderful person.")
Q. Can I assume that you're an Eagles fan?
A. Yes, ma'am. I'm a huge Eagles fan, I'm a huge Philly sports fan.
Q. Did you or anyone in your family have any superstitions or rituals around the Eagles games like the characters in "Silver Linings Playbook" do?
A. I have a superstition that when I actually do physically watch the game, they lose. Which is so hard, because I love to watch the Eagles play. But I just feel like the last couple of years, every time I'm away they win and when I'm watching they lose.
Q. So you don't watch the games anymore?
A. I still do, and then they're losing. But that's an odd superstition, I guess. I'm hoping it's not true.
Q. While preparing to play your character, Pat, did you do specific research about bipolar behavior?
A. [Director] David [Russell] sent a bunch of stuff my way -- some documentaries, footage and interviews. We looked at some material together. And then we just went off the book, which was the primary source. And I was basically working on it, just experimenting with the language and finding out specifically what Pat's malady is. Because bipolar is like snowflakes, no two are the same. We pretty much blocked out what specifically it was with him, and then it was just modulating it on the day, on set, in front of the camera. David's all about experimenting in front of the camera, so there isn't much rehearsal.
Q. Was that a really different filmmaking experience from what you're used to?
A. Oh, yeah. I mean, I'm used to being on sets where it's heavily focused on improvisation. But nothing this exciting, I have to say. This was very [exciting], for everybody. Everybody that came in said this was one of the very best experiences in their lives that they've had acting, including Bob [De Niro].
Q. Your duties as the Sexiest Man Alive are about to end. What advice do you have for the next person who takes on this role?
A. I'll be meeting with whoever it is at an undisclosed location. There's a bunch of secrets I have to pass along to him. It's a whole ritual. It's a whole thing. [Pauses] That's a joke.
Q. I know it is.
A. OK. [Laughs] I said something at one point, like I'd been doing a campaign for it. And, like, doing mall visits. And it was reported that I wasn't joking.
Q. It's amazing how online, those comments can become a real thing really quickly even though they were meant as a joke.
A. Yeah. Especially if you're at a -- I didn't even know this, I was at a place the other night, the Soho House in Los Angeles, and I guess Rashida Jones was there also, who I know not very well. I think she came over to the table. I went out to say hello to [film producer] Harvey Weinstein. And then like [a story] said, "Bradley Cooper and Rashida Jones: Are they dating?" I thought, oh my God. I wasn't -- we didn't even look at each other.
Q. I saw that item, actually. I think it was a Perez Hilton post.
A. It's so crazy! I thought, Wait, I didn't even see, like, we didn't even -- that doesn't even make any sense.
Q. Did you actually read the item or did you just see the headline?
A. Yeah, when I read it, it kind of said that [we weren't together]. But the headline would not imply that at all.
Q. Last question: Can you tell me anything about what you're shooting right now for "Hangover III"?
A. Uh, we're shooting "The Hangover III," and we've been here for about a month.
Q. And that's all you can say, right?
Q. It's even more top secret than your Sexiest Man Alive meetings.
A. [Laughs] Yeah. Right.