Bradley Cooper recalls being told he 'wasn't f--kable' enough for a role

Although it's hard to believe these days, Bradley Cooper wasn't always thought of as a handsome leading man.

In a new interview with W magazine, the 43-year-old actor talks about his critically acclaimed remake of A Star Is Born, which he both directed and starred in, as well as his early years in Hollywood. Though Cooper is now indisputably considered an A-list actor, he remembers that this was far from the case for the majority of his career.
 
“I’ve always been an underdog,” he says. “I was always operating under the lens of not really being seen as the ‘main guy.’ ... I’ve heard it all in my career. Early on, I didn’t get a role because they said I wasn’t ‘f**kable.’” 

Thankfully, Cooper didn't let the harsh criticism get to him.

“In the end, you have to reserve your attention for the work and not listen to anyone," he explains. "People I care about, who care about me, told me not to direct A Star Is Born, said that it would be too difficult and I should start with something easier. Luckily, I didn’t listen. I loved that it was really, really hard to make this film. Otherwise, it wouldn’t have the same value. And that’s always been my goal: to make something, no matter how challenging, that will be remembered.”

Cooper also reveals that Clint Eastwood actually suggested him for the lead role in A Star Is Born -- playing an older, established musician with issues who falls in love with a newcomer -- when he was still attached to direct the project. Cooper turned it down.

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Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper at 75th Venice Film Festival
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Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper at 75th Venice Film Festival
VENICE, ITALY - AUGUST 31: Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga are seen during the 75th Venice Film Festival on August 31, 2018 in Venice, Italy. (Photo by Antony Jones/GC Images)
VENICE, ITALY - AUGUST 31: Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga attend 'A Star Is Born' photocall during the 75th Venice Film Festival at Sala Casino on August 31, 2018 in Venice, Italy. (Photo by Elisabetta A. Villa/WireImage)
VENICE, ITALY - AUGUST 31: Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga are seen during the 75th Venice Film Festival on August 31, 2018 in Venice, Italy. (Photo by Ernesto Ruscio/GC Images)
VENICE, ITALY - AUGUST 31: Actor Bradley Cooper and Singer and actress Lady Gaga attend 'A Star Is Born' photocall during the 75th Venice Film Festival at Sala Casino on August 31, 2018 in Venice, Italy. (Photo by Daniele Venturelli/Daniele Venturelli/WireImage)
VENICE, ITALY - AUGUST 31: Actor Bradley Cooper and Singer and actress Lady Gaga attend 'A Star Is Born' photocall during the 75th Venice Film Festival at Sala Casino on August 31, 2018 in Venice, Italy. (Photo by Dominique Charriau/WireImage)
VENICE, ITALY - AUGUST 31: Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper are seen during the 75th Venice Film Festival on August 31, 2018 in Venice, Italy. (Photo by Franco Origlia/GC Images)
VENICE, ITALY - AUGUST 31: Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper attend 'A Star Is Born' photocall during the 75th Venice Film Festival at Sala Casino on August 31, 2018 in Venice, Italy. (Photo by Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images)
VENICE, ITALY - AUGUST 31: Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper are seen during the 75th Venice Film Festival on August 31, 2018 in Venice, Italy. (Photo by Franco Origlia/GC Images)
VENICE, ITALY - AUGUST 31: Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper are seen during the 75th Venice Film Festival on August 31, 2018 in Venice, Italy. (Photo by Franco Origlia/GC Images)
VENICE, ITALY - AUGUST 31: Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga are seen during the 75th Venice Film Festival on August 31, 2018 in Venice, Italy. (Photo by Tristan Fewings/GC Images)
VENICE, ITALY - AUGUST 31: Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga are seen during the 75th Venice Film Festival on August 31, 2018 in Venice, Italy. (Photo by Franco Origlia/GC Images)
VENICE, ITALY - AUGUST 31: Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga are seen during the 75th Venice Film Festival on August 31, 2018 in Venice, Italy. (Photo by Daniele Venturelli/Daniele Venturelli/GC Images,)
VENICE, ITALY - AUGUST 31: Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga are seen during the 75th Venice Film Festival on August 31, 2018 in Venice, Italy. (Photo by Franco Origlia/GC Images)
director and actor Bradley Cooper and singer and actress Lady Gaga arrive at the Excelsior Hotel on August 31, 2018 during the 75th Venice Film Festival at Venice Lido. (Photo by Vincenzo PINTO / AFP) (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)
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"That was five years ago," he shares. "I was 38 at the time, and I felt I was too young for the part. Pretending I’d lived more than I had wouldn’t have worked. Saying no to Clint Eastwood was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I had put myself on tape for every Eastwood film. He was my hero!”

Later, after the Hangover star says they saw Eurythmics singer Annie Lenox perform at an industry event and he was transfixed, he changed his mind.

“As she sang, I saw the veins in her neck pop, and I said to Clint, ‘Let’s do A Star Is Born,'" he recalls. "He replied, ‘That ship has sailed.’ I went to bed that night and saw the whole beginning of the movie in my mind, and I knew I had to direct it.”

Interestingly enough, Cooper's candid recent comments about his perceived attractiveness in Hollywood isn't the first time he's opened up about the criticism he's received over his looks. In Barbara Walters' 2015 Most Fascinating People special, he talked about having trouble getting cast as anything other than frat boy jerks.

“Their feedback was, you’re not really f***able,” he recounted.

“So, how do you go from being ‘unf**kable’ to being the [2011] Sexiest Man Alive?” Walters replied.

“You tell me,” Cooper answered with a smile. “I have no idea. Obviously there’s something afoot.”

ET's Keltie Knight recently spoke with the acclaimed actor about his career in Hollywood, and he again admitted that he fell on some tough times. "It's a rough business, and you have to have thick skin," he shared. "It's not for everybody."

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Lady Gaga at 'A Star Is Born' premiere in London
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Lady Gaga at 'A Star Is Born' premiere in London
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 27: Lady Gaga attends the UK premiere of 'A Star Is Born' held at Vue West End on September 27, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Marsland/WireImage)
American singer and actress Lady Gaga poses on the red carpet upon arrival for the UK premiere of the film 'A Star is Born' in central London on September 27, 2018. (Photo by Anthony HARVEY / AFP) (Photo credit should read ANTHONY HARVEY/AFP/Getty Images)
American singer and actress Lady Gaga poses on the red carpet upon arrival for the UK premiere of the film 'A Star is Born' in central London on September 27, 2018. (Photo by Anthony HARVEY / AFP) (Photo credit should read ANTHONY HARVEY/AFP/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 27: Lady Gaga attends the UK premiere of 'A Star Is Born' held at Vue West End on September 27, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Dave J Hogan/Dave J Hogan/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 27: Lady Gaga attends the UK premiere of 'A Star Is Born' held at Vue West End on September 27, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)
Lady Gaga attending the UK Premiere of A Star is Born held at the Vue West End, Leicester Square, London. (Photo by Ian West/PA Images via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 27: Lady Gaga attends the UK premiere of 'A Star Is Born' held at Vue West End on September 27, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 27: Lady Gaga attends the UK premiere of 'A Star Is Born' held at Vue West End on September 27, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Dave J Hogan/Dave J Hogan/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 27: Lady Gaga attends the UK premiere of 'A Star Is Born' held at Vue West End on September 27, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Dave J Hogan/Dave J Hogan/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 27: Lady Gaga attends the UK premiere of 'A Star Is Born' held at Vue West End on September 27, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Dave J Hogan/Dave J Hogan/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 27: Lady Gaga attends the UK Premiere of 'A Star Is Born' at Vue West End on September 27, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/WireImage)
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