After graduating from Georgetown University in 1997, Bradley Cooper set his sites on becoming not just a working actor, but a good actor. He enrolled in the Masters of Fine Arts program at the Actors Studio Drama School at New School University and began molding his abilities around a love of the craft, rather than a paycheck. He made his first onscreen debut while attending the program, with an appearance on Sex and the City in 1998, as well as a starring role on the short-lived Darren Star series The $treet. Cooper kept his life well-balanced, however, spending time teaching acting to inner-city children through the Learning through the Expanded Arts Program and taking a job as host of the Discovery Channel show Extreme Treks in a Wild World, which took him on journeys to Peru and British Colombia. His first feature film role came in 2001 with a part in the absurdist comedy Wet Hot American Summer. Near this time, Cooper was cast as Will Tippin in the ABC series Alias, which he stayed with for two seasons. He was also cast in a number of canceled series such as Miss Match, Touching Evil, and Kitchen Confidential.
Cooper would find greater and greater success with comedy, however, landing a part in 2005's Owen Wilson comedy The Wedding Crashers that exposed him to a wider audience, as well as roles in 2006's Failure to Launch, and 2008's Yes Man . But of course, Cooper's breakthrough film turned out to be the explosively successful 2009 comedy The Hangover. Cooper's starring role as the smartest friend in a misguided trio, searching for their buddy after losing track of him during his extremely wild bachelor party made him an instant household name, and he would reprise the role for 2011's The Hangover 2. In the meantime, Cooper would nab starring roles in more and more films, like the thriller Limitless and the big screen adaptation of The A-Team.
He scored his biggest critical hit to date with 2012's Silver Linings Playbook where his portrayal of a bi-polar man trying to pull his life back together after being released from a mental institution garnered him a number of year-end accolades including a nomination for Best Actor from the Screen Actors Guild and at the Academy Awards. He returned to the Oscar race in 2014 playing the title role in Clint Eastwood's 21st century war drama American Sniper, for which he also was nominated for Best Picture, having served as a producer on the film.