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TIFF 2012: Bradley Cooper doubles down on Toronto

Will Perkins
Wide Screen
August 31, 2012

September is a very big month for Bradley Cooper.

His new film "The Words" will be released on Sept. 7 and the "Hangover" star is set to take Canada by storm as one of just a few lead actors with two films appearing at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival. The premieres of Cooper's new films "Silver Linings Playbook" - opposite Jennifer Lawrence ("The Hunger Games") - and "The Place Beyond the Pines" - alongside Canada's own Ryan Gosling ("Drive") - mean that he'll be pulling double duty at TIFF. But it's nothing that the "Sexiest Man Alive" can't handle, right?

See more: Can Jennifer Lawrence carry a non-"Hunger Games" movie?

Many wondered whether People magazine's coveted title would help or hurt Cooper's career. Shortly after being named the world's most desirable male late last year, the actor's passion project - the big budget adaptation of John Milton's epic poem "Paradise Lost" - was scrapped by the studio early in production. Cooper was to have played the fallen angel Lucifer in the film. Though the "Sexiest Man Alive" moniker may not have been directly responsible for "Paradise Lost's" demise, in Hollywood, perception is everything. Not that he wouldn't have been great, but having a bankable star like Cooper play Satan in a sure-to-be-controversial mega-budget movie would probably have been bad for business.

Other than the "Paradise Lost" snag, Cooper's other projects appear to be charging ahead at full speed. With four movies in theatres this year - "Hit and Run," "The Words," "Silver Linings Playbook," and "The Place Beyond the Pines" - it would be hard to argue that the actor's career has been negatively effected by "People"'s dubious honour. If anything "Sexiest Man Alive" marked an important turn for Cooper - away from comedies like "Wedding Crashers" and towards more mature and serious roles.

In David O. Russell's "Silver Linings Playbook" Cooper plays Pat, a teacher who suffers a mental breakdown and spends eight months in a psychiatric hospital. The film follows Pat's attempts to get his life back on track after being released from the institution. In Derek Cianfrance's "The Place Beyond the Pines" the actor plays Avery Cross, a young police officer with political ambitions who, naturally, finds himself at odds with a small-time bank robber (played by Gosling). Two very different characters in two very different films, directed by filmmakers whose recent works like "The Fighter" and "Blue Valentine" have been acclaimed for their emotional intensity. "The Hangover" these films are not.

See more: TIFF's star lineup

Cooper has also been taking things more seriously off-screen, playing severely deformed Englishman Joseph Merrick, better known as the Elephant Man, in a stage play of the same name - a role he hopes to play on Broadway soon. Other than the third installment of "The Hangover" series, Cooper's future projects also sound decidedly dramatic. Cooper is set to play a logging baron in the depression-era drama "Serena" (opposite his "Silver Linings Playbook" co-star Jennifer Lawrence), and will take on government corruption as a con artist-turned-FBI agent in David O. Russell's untitled film about the infamous Abscam sting operation.

Though Cooper is a classically trained actor (he attended the famous Actors Studio in New York), he has become mostly known for his comedic roles to date. He'll likely still make comedies, but the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival will be Cooper's coming out party as a "serious actor" and a chance to show the world his chops.

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