Actor Bradley Cooper says watching his dad die right before his eyes forever changed him. Bradley's dad, Charles Cooper, died in 2011 at age 71 after battling lung cancer.
“I watched my father die and I realized that is the way we are all going to die," Cooper told the April 2013 issue of British GQ. "For me, it was a switch from knowing something intellectually to knowing it by tangibly experiencing it. It rewired my neurological system. It almost did the opposite of motivating me. It was about keeping the main thing the main thing.
The surreal existential experience was depressing but also a gift. “I watched him dying and I was there by his bed watching him, and then I saw his last breath and he was gone," Bradley, 38, recalls. "I experienced the whole thing. And that was a watershed moment that I was privileged to experience. And it changed everything. Nothing has ever been the same since.
"Right there, in that moment, the innocence was gone. Done. Never to return. The beauty is that I just don’t sweat sh*t anymore. My father gave me two gifts: having me and dying with me. I used to be the kid that got the shakes if I had to talk in public. Now, I just don’t get nervous about stuff. I can’t control everything.”
Cooper, who was named the "Sexiest Man Alive" in 2011, no longer sweats the small stuff like he used to. When he didn't the Oscar for best actor at the 2013 Academy Awards (the Oscar went to Daniel Day-Lewis), he took the loss in stride because of the perspective his dad's death gave him.
"I don’t want to win an Oscar," he says. "It would change nothing. Nothing. The things in my life that aren’t fulfilled would not be fulfilled. Career-wise, right now, it’s better that I don’t win one. I don’t want to win. I don’t."
Meanwhile, Bradley's mom has moved into his Los Angeles home since his dad's death. "I love having her," he said. "I wouldn't have it any other way."