Bradley Cooper has been nominated for an Oscar eight times, he’s directed, he’s produced, he’s sung with Lady Gaga… but this past December’s Nightmare Alley marked a major career milestone for the Limitless actor as he had to perform full-frontal nudity in a movie for the first time. Cooper had two critically acclaimed films come out over the holiday season, with Paul Thomas Anderson’s coming-of-age drama Licorice Pizza arriving alongside Guillermo del Toro’s aforementioned twisted noir.
In the latter, Cooper plays Stanton Carlisle, an ambitious carny who has a talent for manipulating people, including women. Stan has three love interests in the film — Rooney Mara’s innocent Molly, Cate Blanchett’s amoral psychiatrist Lilith, and fellow carny Zeena Krumbein, as played by Toni Collette. It’s with Collette that Cooper shares his raciest scene in the film, as Stan and Zeena have a sexual encounter in a bathtub, something that required Cooper to bare all.
Due to the nature of filming, the Star is Born star has revealed that he was required to be naked on set for a total of six hours. While speaking with Kim Masters on her podcast The Business, Cooper reflected on that particularly demanding day on the job, which he admits got “pretty heavy” for him as it involved both emotional and physical nakedness.
“It demanded that we be naked — emotionally and soulfully and even physically for me, which actually was a big deal,” Cooper says. “I still remember that day, just to be naked in front of the crew for six hours. … It was pretty heavy.”
Despite how exposing shooting this sequence was, in more ways than one, Cooper explained to Masters that he never hesitated to agree to do the scene as he knew that it wasn’t gratuitous and was an important moment for his character and the story. The actor went on to discuss his working relationship with del Toro and how he is willing to follow the Shape of Water filmmaker wherever he wants to go.
“It really is akin to putting on a miner’s kit, hat and flashlight, and looking at each other and then going down in the tunnel,” he said, of what it’s like to work with del Toro. “Knowing that you may be excavating a route that won’t ever get you to the end that day but you come back up and go down again the next day.”
Both Nightmare Alley and Licorice Pizza are expected to make a big impact this awards season. Bradley Cooper will next be seen, or rather heard, in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, in which he’ll reprise his role as Rocket.