Although it's hard to believe these days, Bradley Cooper wasn't always thought of as a handsome leading man.
In a new interview with W magazine, the 43-year-old actor talks about his critically acclaimed remake of A Star Is Born, which he both directed and starred in, as well as his early years in Hollywood. Though Cooper is now indisputably considered an A-list actor, he remembers that this was far from the case for the majority of his career.
“I’ve always been an underdog,” he says. “I was always operating under the lens of not really being seen as the ‘main guy.’ ... I’ve heard it all in my career. Early on, I didn’t get a role because they said I wasn’t ‘f**kable.’”
Thankfully, Cooper didn't let the harsh criticism get to him.
“In the end, you have to reserve your attention for the work and not listen to anyone," he explains. "People I care about, who care about me, told me not to direct A Star Is Born, said that it would be too difficult and I should start with something easier. Luckily, I didn’t listen. I loved that it was really, really hard to make this film. Otherwise, it wouldn’t have the same value. And that’s always been my goal: to make something, no matter how challenging, that will be remembered.”
Cooper also reveals that Clint Eastwood actually suggested him for the lead role in A Star Is Born -- playing an older, established musician with issues who falls in love with a newcomer -- when he was still attached to direct the project. Cooper turned it down.
"That was five years ago," he shares. "I was 38 at the time, and I felt I was too young for the part. Pretending I’d lived more than I had wouldn’t have worked. Saying no to Clint Eastwood was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I had put myself on tape for every Eastwood film. He was my hero!”
Later, after the Hangover star says they saw Eurythmics singer Annie Lenox perform at an industry event and he was transfixed, he changed his mind.
“As she sang, I saw the veins in her neck pop, and I said to Clint, ‘Let’s do A Star Is Born,'" he recalls. "He replied, ‘That ship has sailed.’ I went to bed that night and saw the whole beginning of the movie in my mind, and I knew I had to direct it.”
Interestingly enough, Cooper's candid recent comments about his perceived attractiveness in Hollywood isn't the first time he's opened up about the criticism he's received over his looks. In Barbara Walters' 2015 Most Fascinating People special, he talked about having trouble getting cast as anything other than frat boy jerks.
“Their feedback was, you’re not really f***able,” he recounted.
“So, how do you go from being ‘unf**kable’ to being the  Sexiest Man Alive?” Walters replied.
“You tell me,” Cooper answered with a smile. “I have no idea. Obviously there’s something afoot.”
ET's Keltie Knight recently spoke with the acclaimed actor about his career in Hollywood, and he again admitted that he fell on some tough times. "It's a rough business, and you have to have thick skin," he shared. "It's not for everybody."