Star Power: A Visit from Actors Studio Drama School Alumnus Bradley Cooper Inspires Students
Actors Studio and Drama School alumni and A Star Is Born actors Gabe Fazio, Derek Jones, and Bradley Cooper
Actors Studio Drama School (ASDS) students were dazzled recently, when ASDS alumnus Bradley Cooper stopped by for an informal conversation and Q&A session.
The actor—now nominated for three 2019 Academy Awards for his international film success, A Star is Born—visited just two weeks after the movie’s October 2018 opening. He was joined by ASDS classmates Gabe Fazio and Derek Jones, two of the featured actors in the film, and together, the alumni shared their ASDS experience, along with words of advice and encouragement, with students in the program.
“Hearing Bradley admit that he wrote, directed, and starred in A Star Is Born using only the training he got here made me think differently about what's possible,” said Justin L. Clark, a third-year ASDS student. “If he can do that with what he learned here, I might have a chance to do something significant with my own career.”
Bradley Cooper with ASDS program chair Andreas Manolikakis
During Cooper’s visit, moderated by Andreas Manolikakis, chair of the Actors Studio Drama School, he took questions from students about the relationship between their training, their careers, and the making of his film. His main message was emphasizing the importance of his ASDS training as an essential template for everything that he does an actor, writer and director. Fazio and Jones also described how the basic values and techniques they learned at the school continue to motivate their artistic work as actors.
Faculty and administrators who attended the event included Dyson College of Arts and Sciences Dean Nira Herrmann, PhD, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Bette Kirschstein, PhD, as well as Assistant Dean for Communications Angela Nally. Susan Aston, director of the ASDS Acting department, and Bill Coco, PhD, director of the Theater History department, were also in the audience, and in one touching moment Cooper expressed his deep admiration and affection for his teachers, specifically the late Elizabeth Kemp, to whom A Star is Born is dedicated.
“The deep trust we develop during training, together with the progress that reveals the students’ unique artistic voices, can create a very strong bond between the students and the teachers which may last forever,” said Manolikakis, who taught Cooper acting along with Kemp. “As a student, besides being extremely talented, Bradley was very dedicated to his studies. Today, even after his monumental achievements in theater and film as an actor, director, screenwriter and singer, he is still very devoted to his school and his teachers. It means a lot on many levels.”
Following his return to campus, Cooper opened up about what the visit meant to him in an exclusive interview.
“As a student, I felt the hope that comes when people come back and share their experience. It was a huge boost to us, so I am very aware of the power that someone who has been successful in the industry has when they talk to students,” said Cooper. “However, I see it as it almost fills me up more than them. I love talking to people who love the same thing I love, which is doing the work. I love talking about the work endlessly.”
Bradley Cooper with Cohorts 20, 21, and 22 (starting at top left)
Bradley Cooper–Parting Thoughts
After his October 2018 visit to campus, Actors Studio Drama School alumnus and Academy Award nominee (Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle and American Sniper) Bradley Cooper shared additional insight and experience in an exclusive interview.
Q: How do you describe your experience at the Actors Studio Drama School (ASDS)?
BC: I would describe it as redefining everything as an artist, as a human being. …I have always loved movies; I knew I wanted to be a part of [moviemaking], but it wasn't until I got to [ASDS] that I realized how much I love the work.
Q: What skills did you learn in your training at ASDS that you still apply to your work as an actor, director, and screenwriter today?
BC: I apply everything. The way that the school is structured—first year: basic technique, opening up the instrument; second year, dissecting a script, learning how to understand and apply those tools from the first year to the written word; and third year, putting the work up on its feet—that it is the process by which I approach everything to this day.
Q: How important is it for young actors to train before entering the professional world?
BC: The word training is essential to anything in life. If you love something, why wouldn't you train as much as you can to hone your instrument?
Q: What advice do you have for the current and future student of the Actors Studio Drama School?
BC: Listen to your teachers! [Laughs.]