Wide Screen

Before they were famous: Bradley Cooper asks Sean Penn a question on ‘Inside the Actors Studio’

Will Perkins
Wide Screen

A then-24-year-old Bradley Cooper can be seen in the video below asking Oscar winner Sean Penn a question during a 1999 taping of the interview show "Inside the Actors Studio." In the clip, Cooper asks Penn about what it was like to play the same character in the 1998 film "Hurlyburly" that he did in the stage play of the same name years earlier.

If only the eager, long-haired, aspiring young actor knew how successful he'd become 13 years later.

Cooper ("The Hangover," "Limitless") is currently on the receiving end of a lot of Oscar buzz for his performance in "Silver Linings Playbook," playing a bipolar school teacher recovering from a serious breakdown. The David O. Russell film co-starring Jennifer Lawrence ("The Hunger Games") won the coveted People's Choice Award at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival -- a prize that is an early bellwether for Oscar success -- and has been drumming up awards talk ever since.

See also: Five film facts about 'Silver Linings Playbook'

A hefty role like this seems long overdue for Cooper, who is actually a classically trained actor who learned from some of the best in the business (as demonstrated above). While Cooper's comedic roles in movies like "Wet Hot American Summer" and "Wedding Crashers" are what he is most remembered for, what many likely don't realize is that the Philadelphia-born actor is a graduate of the famed Actors Studio in New York City -- hence his brief and youthful appearance on "Inside the Actors Studio." He cut his acting teeth on dramatic method acting.

To the public, the Actors Studio is best known for the aforementioned TV interview series, but it's a real school that has turned out some of the greatest stage and screen talents of the past 50 years. Notable Actors Studio alumni include Marlon Brando, Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Ellen Burstyn, Robert Duvall, Dennis Hopper, Dustin Hoffman, and Faye Dunaway, just to name a few. Cooper is in darn good company.

"Inside the Actors Studio" is just one of the means that the school uses to train its students. Hosted by the studio's dean, James Lipton, the show features lengthy one-on-one interviews with actors, directors, writers, and performers, many whom are graduates of the school. The show is taped on-location at the Actors Studio in Manhattan in front of current students, who are part of a Q&A session at the end of each episode.

See also: 'Red Dawn': Where are the Chinese villains?

The Actors Studio interviews are entertaining and engaging to watch for the average movie lover, but for students of the school, like Cooper, they're also hugely valuable resources to learn more about their craft. Cooper himself subsequently appeared on the show as a guest (during which he was naturally teased about his earlier appearances, chatting with the likes of Steven Spielberg and Robert De Niro as well), a change of fortune that had to be inspiring to the students in attendance.

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