With Limitless arriving on DVD and Blu-ray in the UK today, Bradley Cooper came to London to chat to a few of us about the film, and what he’s up to. This was a round table interview, so some of the questions came from the fine folks at sites such as HeyUGuys and Bleeding Cool.
Here, then, is what Cooper had to say…
How did the film come to you in the first place?
I ran to it. It was out there, and I read the script. I loved it, and I tried to get a meeting with Neil Burger, who had just signed on to direct it.
It had been around for years. Leslie Dixon wrote it in 2007 or 2008. Heath Ledger was going to do it, then Shia LaBeouf. I just tried to get it.
Spoiler-y bit here, if you haven’t seen Limitless.
Which of the two endings to the movie did you prefer? The one that you went with, or the one that’s included on the DVD?
The one that’s in the movie. For sure.
Do you not like the alternative one, where Eddie is left in a far darker place?
Well, I feel like the ending that we chose for the movie was more ambiguous for the viewer. Is he on the drug? Is he off the drug? Was he lying to him or not? It could be just as dark an ending as the other one, if he’s lying to Carl. If that whole thing was a ruse, and he’s not off the drug. That he might still be taking the drug, and he doesn’t know what the hell it’s going to do.
All he does is claim that he’s off it, but he’s retained some of the power.
Was there ever any suggestion that you might go closer to the ending of the book?
Well, in the book ending, he’s lost everything. He’s waiting in a motel in Vermont, and he’s waiting for them to come and kill him. It’s completely different, and he’s not running for Senate or anything. He’s lost it all.
We departed from that, even before I came aboard. Leslie Dixon’s script chose a different way to go.
Spoiler-y bit ends.
Do you think Eddie’s a good guy, then?
I do think he’s a good guy, yeah. I don’t think that he is malicious in any way at all. We don’t know what his objective is on the drug. It’s not to make money, that’s for sure. But we’re not really sure what [his objective] is.
Do you think that Eddie escapes the notion that power always corrupts?
I don’t think he escapes it. It’s a treacherous road, so that’s sort of the main thrust. If there’s any sort of theme to the movie, it’s not the price of power, but the challenges of power.
Would you say there’s also an undercurrent about how people deal with failure and success?
Sure. How you deal with the lack of power, and then the surplus of power.
People have come to recognise you as Phil from The Hangover. Was Eddie, after playing Phil, a refreshing character to play?
I love Phil, and I love Eddie, too. It was nice to be cast in a movie that was a different genre, for sure. To be cast in a movie where the burden of the storytelling was on my shoulders. I love that challenge. And also to be able to play a guy who goes through such a transformation, physically and emotionally.
But I don’t mind being associated with The Hangover. I’m honoured to be a part of it.
Yeah. You’re like, “Oh, really?” [laughs] “Are you sure? Why would he think that?” [laughs] That was great. That was great.
If you could learn any profession, talent or language while you were on NZT [the fictional drug in Limitless], what would it be?
German. I’d love to learn German.
You remember A Fish Called Wanda? Where John Cleese just loves German? That’s like me.
You basically want to do the bit where John Cleese walks around in his underpants, then?
Maybe that’s what it is, yeah! That’s right.
Moving on to some future projects, how far down the road are you with The Crow at the moment?
I’m not sure where we are with that.
Are you still committed to it?
It was never like that. It was something that got a lot of traction on the Internet, but I’m not sure where that is.
What about Hyperion? You chatted earlier in the year on how you were looking to adapt the books, and possibly direct?
That we are just finishing the deal to write.
So, that’s definitely going ahead?
Yeah. Have you read those?
No, not yet.
Are you aiming to do all of the books?
Well, ideally, yes, but we’re combining them. Because it would really be a mammoth undertaking, these four books, turning them into script form.
The first one, we’re going to write two scripts, but the first one is a culmination of Hyperion and The Fall Of Hyperion. And we’ll see where that takes us in terms of the second one.
Are you still keen to direct it?
As a dream. But that’s like saying your first film is going to be Avatar! [laughs] I’d have to have NZT and give it the studio head to make them let me direct that movie!
How far along are you on Paradise Lost?
We just did- Here, I’ll show you this thing- It’s going to be motion capture, and I’ve never done anything like that. We’ve been doing all these tests all this week.
[He shows us a picture of him covered in ping pong balls and dressed in a performance capture.]
You’re going whole hog performance capture with it?
So, you’re still doing it?
I hope so! [laughs]. That would suck if I did all that for nothing!
Yeah, it’s full on. The deals are done. That was our second day, and we were testing out different rigs, doing some preliminary work. We did this one scene where Lucifer lands and talks to the minions. It’s really exciting.
We’ll start shooting January.
How do you feel about playing the biggest baddie there ever was?
Oh, man, I can’t wait. I can’t believe I’m doing it. I remember on The A-Team tour, I was here in London, and I met Ralph Fiennes. I’d never met him before, and he’s a friend of Liam Neeson. I remember we were talking, and he said, “Wwhat do you want to do?” So, I said, “It’s so crazy. There’s this project, Paradise Lost. All I really want to do is play the devil.”
And I remember he said, “You’re gonna do it.” The way he said it to me- You know when someone says something and it feels so real, and you think they know something? I was like, “Oh great.” And then we’re doing it!
But you never know until you’re shooting. I say all this now, but Shia LaBeouf might be Lucifer in a month.
Paradise Lost has Alex Proyas directing.
Who did the original film of The Crow.
He did. And Dark City. Fantastic film. It’s exciting.
You’ve played a whole variety of different roles over your career. Was there any that you found particularly easy to sink in to, that you’d go back and do again?
Well, Phil from The Hangover wasn’t easy at all. In fact, I was probably the most trepidatious about that character than any one that I’ve played. Just because I didn’t think I could pull it off. He’s such a commander in chief, and so secure with himself, so quick witted. And to me, he’s like the coolest guy in the world. And he’s got this moral philosophy that’s so bizarre, and he’s got to run the show in a lot of ways.
So, when Todd [Phillips] cast me, I was worried that I wasn’t going to be able to pull it off. But now, the second one was so effortless to play Phil. I would do five Hangovers, just to play him. I really do love that character, and he’s changing. In the second movie, you saw his vulnerability. I love that guy.
Where are plans for a third Hangover movie?
No plans, but I hope there is. I think that it should be a trilogy, and then close it up, done.
You should take the next one to Blackpool. You’d like it there.
[Laughs] That’s what someone said this morning!
Somewhere completely random, and not glamorous at all. Nice and tacky, too.
You’ve done a lot of stuff behind the camera. Do you think you’d like to one day just move across to being a producer/director?
Just a director. I’d love to direct, for sure. I hope I do it.
Do you think you’d ever retire from acting and become a director?
Who are the directors you aspire to, then?
Jonathan Glazer. Paul Thomas Anderson. Scorsese. Spielberg. Kathryn Bigelow is great. Julian Schnabel’s great. Juan Carlos Fresnadillo is incredible. Guillermo del Toro.
If your long time aim is to duck out of acting and move across to directing, what’s going to be your King Lear, then? What’s the part you’d love to do?
I think the reason why I imagine giving up acting, and I don’t think I’d be giving up, is that I’d love directing so much that I’d only want to direct. I think that if my hunch is right about how much I’d like directing.
I don’t really have a part in mind. It’s more about working with directors. To be on a Jonathan Glazer set, or a Paul Thomas Anderson set. A Wes Anderson set, a Martin Scorsese set. That’s the goal for me. And that may change, and there may become a role, but for now, it’s about that.
Do you have any deals in place with any of those directors that you’d like to exclusively tell us?
No. [laughs] I’ve been trying to sit down with Jonathan Glazer for about eight years! I’m not kidding. I even went to high school with his agent! So, maybe one day!
Last question, then, and we’re keen to start an Internet rumour or two here. There’s a bit in Limitless when you’re standing on the ledge, ready to jump. And it struck me that was your Batman pose.
You might see where this is going! Blockbusters, comic book movies, superhero films, do they really interest you? Because they’re going to some very dark places right now?
Yeah. Again, it’s really about the director, honestly. So, if for some reason, David Fincher was going to do a comic book movie hero, I’d definitely be putting myself on tape in my kitchen for it.
I’ve got enough to work with there! Bradley Cooper, thank you very much.
Limitless is out on DVD and Blu-ray today.