How 'The Hangover' Convinced Brad Pitt That Bradley Cooper Was a Star

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Brad Pitt revealed on Thursday at the Santa Barbara Film Festival that he knew Bradley Cooper would be a huge star the first time he saw The Hangover (2009). Pitt was presenting Cooper with the Outstanding Performer of the Year award for his turn as Leonard Bernstein in Maestro.

Taking the stage to pay tribute to Cooper’s “brilliance,” Pitt said the two happen to have a "couple of things in common," namely "being a movie superstar and also a name." The Babylon actor went on to pay tribute to some of Cooper’s best-known work, including his directorial debut A Star Is Born and his currently Oscar-nominated Maestro. However, he admitted it was The Hangover that showed him Cooper’s range.

"You'll see the more irreverent that Alan [Zach Galifianakis] gets, the more that Phil [Cooper] is enjoying that irreverence. It's subtle. It's often to the side of the frame, but it's there and it's interesting,” Pitt said of Cooper’s performance.

“I know this sounds strange,” he continued, “but I was watching that and I know no one else would have brought that to the table. And it was something fresh. I knew this guy was going to be around.”

The Hangover was the movie which launched Cooper to global fame. He would subsequently earn his first of 12 Oscar nominations (to date) for Silver Linings Playbook (2012). Cooper has been nominated in both male acting categories, as well as for his producing and writing work. Though Cooper has yet to win one, Pitt thinks 2024 might be the year that all changes.

"He's been nominated 12 times and I really, really hope that this is his year, because he's willing,” Pitt said. “But if it's not, it's okay, everyone knows it's just a matter of time.”

The Santa Barbara Film Festival tribute served as a sweet full-circle moment for the two actors. It came just over four years after Cooper presented Pitt with the National Board of Review’s 2020 Best Supporting Actor award for his turn in Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood. During his acceptance speech that night, Pitt credited Cooper with influencing him to get sober.

"He’s a sweetheart,” Pitt said of Cooper. “I got sober because of this guy and every day has been happier ever since.”