Today: May 28, 2024

Bradley Cooper On Joy

Joy is the wild story of a family, told across four generations, centred on the girl (Jennifer Lawrence) who becomes the woman who founds a business dynasty.

Bradley Cooper plays Neil Walker, an executive at the QVC shopping channel who gives Joy his support on her way to the top. We chatted to Bradley about what to was like working with David O. Russell and Jennifer Lawrence all over again…

What makes Neil give Joy a chance?
“He has followed a similar path to Joy, so he can relate to her.  He is a very practical man and he knows that her invention, her self-wringing mop, is ingenious. He actually watches her demonstrate it and he is impressed. He is a businessman and he sees potential with the mop. He sees a huge upside and so he is pretty logical actually. He doesn’t follow whatever the normal ideas of business are. It takes people like that in your life to say ‘I think I can give you a shot.’  Barry Diller thought outside the box when he left Twentieth Century Fox (for the teleshopping network QVC). At the time, people thought, ‘oh, what’s he doing?’ but he wound up being way ahead of the curve.”

Why do you enjoy working with David O. Russell?
“I think every director is different. Yes, I’ve been so lucky to work with great directors. Clint Eastwood is amazing and Todd Phillips is great. David is a unique person and he has a style that’s also unique, I think any great auteur has that. He creates a world in which he’s the conductor and we are there to help him realise his story. He’s great, he is somebody who always wants to improve as a director and I think that he pushes himself constantly. It’s amazing that Fox has made a movie like this and allowed David to do it on this level. It means that large numbers of people can see the movie, which is really incredible, and that’s due to David’s fortitude. He didn’t just make The Fighter and then say ‘okay’, or go on to make Silver Linings Playbook and say ‘okay’ and then make American Hustle and say ‘okay’. Now he has made Joy. That is four really incredible movies in a row! He also made Three Kings, which is incredible, Flirting With Disaster, I Heart Huckabees and Spanking The Monkey – his first film. He has a drive that I think is undeniable and it is lucky for us that he has it, because he keeps creating great films.”

David often likes working with the same team. Have you, David, Jennifer Lawrence, and Robert De Niro developed a close camaraderie?
“For sure we have. Bob and I already worked together on a movie called Limitless so we had become friends. I met Jen on Silver Linings Playbook.  Yes, it feels very much like a family in a lot of ways, when you make movies with the same people over a span of years. The in-between moments are when you also grow together, so that informs the work you’re doing. I wasn’t working with Bob on this movie and I really wasn’t working with Jen on American Hustle, but we were all in the same movies.”

What is Joy (the film) all about?
“I think Joy is about a woman who despite many, many obstacles, embraces what her grandmother taught her. She told Joy that she’s special, that what she has to say needs to be heard and that what she needs to do has to be done. It is a great female empowerment story about rising above all the obstacles and the waves of potential failure and coming out on top. It is about Joy achieving the status as a titan in her field, a field dominated by men. It is about people and relationships and primarily it is about a woman, Joy. It is her story about the realities of what a woman has to go through in the real world of commerce in our day and age. That is the movie David wanted to make. David makes it a very compelling, entertaining story for two hours. That’s what’s special about David O. Russell, he decides to make movies about people and that’s rare within the studio system. This is a big studio movie.”

In what way is this kind of story about people unusual?
Well of course people are in movies, but if you really think about it and if you look at other movies, there’s always a sort of hook, or it’s about something bigger. But this movie is really all about this woman and her journey and her family.  That’s it.  And it is a normal family, not an extraordinary, dynamic sort of crazy, baroque, larger than life family. No, this really is a normal family.

From your perspective, are there enough great roles for women in film, like Joy?
“Well I’m a storyteller. I love to be involved in stories about men and women that are fascinating. At the dawn of movies, Marlene Dietrich was commanding the narrative of the movies she was in. And I have been lucky that I’ve been in movies where the female characters have been very complicated and strong, women who are forces to be reckoned with. In my career, that started with television, the first job I had was on a show called Alias(2001-2006) from J.J. Abrams that had a female star (Jennifer Garner), so I grew up working within a structure where the female was the main person.”

Did you always want to act?
“I have wanted to be an actor since I was 12. I didn’t do anything about it, but I always knew I wanted to act after I saw the movie: The Elephant Man (the1980 film with John Hurt and Anthony Hopkins) and that was it for me.”

Did you have any intuition or sense that an acting career was going to work out?
“Well, there is definitely something deep, deep inside that has given me the wherewithal, or the traction, to be able to push forward and pursue this line of work. There has to be a deep, deep belief in oneself, but with that comes a lot of doubt. Joy (Mangano) also had doubts and her dream stayed dormant for 17 years. Joy found that success means you have to keep going.  It’s not as if she just created the Miracle Mop, she then went on and invented her velvet hangers (Huggable Hangers). That’s probably her biggest success in fact. She was not somebody who was a one hit wonder.”

When did acting become a reality?
“I went to college and studied literature and then went to grad school to study theater and I started acting. But I didn’t really think about it too much other than the fact that I just knew I wanted to go after it. It helped that I had parents who didn’t stand in my way. Acting is a very scary thing for parents!  I took out a $75,000 student loan out for grad school. That’s very scary, especially for a father who came out of the ghetto and made a living for his family. Then his child is saying that potentially he could be going back into squalor if he’s not successful.”

I believe you are planning to go behind the camera?
“Yes hopefully I am going to direct, we’ll see. I have learned so much from David about storytelling, how to deal with actors, crews, editing, making a movie. I really feel like I have had a great tutorial for making films with him.”

You’ve had three Oscar nominations. How rewarding is it to receive accolades and awards?
“While it’s amazing to be in the company of these great filmmakers and doing these performances in the last three years, and to be a part of a movie like this, my drive has nothing to do with any of that. As long as I’m healthy and I’m here, I just want to keep learning. I’m a very curious person and I’ve always had a huge engine inside of me.”

You seem very down to earth. Is that because you don’t take it all for granted?
“I think probably my biggest gift is that I don’t take anything at all for granted, because I know that it’s going to be gone tomorrow and that it’s fleeting. Being here and being able to talk to you about this movie is great, it really is. I appreciate everything!”

Joy is available to own on Digital HD™, Blu-ray™ & DVD on 25th April, courtesy by Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment. 

Paula Hammond - Features Editor

Paula Hammond is a full-time, freelance journalist. She regularly writes for more magazines than is healthy and has over 25 books to her credit. When not frantically scribbling, she can be found indulging her passions for film, theatre, cult TV, sci-fi and real ale. If you should spot her in the pub, after five rounds rapid, she’ll be the one in the corner mumbling Ghostbusters quotes and waiting for the transporter to lock on to her signal… Email: writerpaula@icloud.com

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