Watching his father pass away made him confront mortality and his attitude towards it. “The reality of mortality hits you like a ton of bricks,” he shared.
It’s a heart-wrenching experience to watch a loving parent breathe their last right in front of you while you can’t do anything to stop it. Now 45 years old, Bradley Cooper vividly remembered the moment where he held his father in his arms as he passed away in 2011.
“…My dad dying was brutal for all of us. It was a schism, and its aftershock has not stopped,” the actor told Details magazine, as quoted by Los Angeles Times.
The actor revealed how that single moment of holding his dying father, Charles, was life-changing when he spoke to Oprah Winfrey on SuperSoul Conversations, according to USA Today. “It was everything,” he said. “It was the biggest gift he gave me – the second biggest gift. [The first was] having me and bringing me into this life and [then] him allowing me to be witness to his passing was equally as huge.”
He added, “It really honestly felt like – he was cradled, his head was right here – and when he took the last breath I honestly felt like it went into me, and I’ve never seen anything the same since… I remember that moment and I looked up and I thought everything was different. [I became] stronger, more open, more willing to fail because of him…”
“The reality of mortality hits you like a ton of bricks.”
Even after years passed since he lost his father to lung cancer, Cooper would still see him appearing in his dreams. “I cherish them. I love when he’s in my dreams,” he said. “In the beginning he was very sick in my dreams, and now in my dreams he’s healthy.”
After his father’s death, the Hollywood star started living life differently and it changed his attitude completely. “My father’s death had this impact on me. It’s like I was saying about when I wanted to be a soldier. I think my father’s death addressed some of the fears or quandaries I had as a child about mortality. It was his parting gift to me. Watching this man — my father — leave his body and go,” he told Details magazine, as quoted by Los Angeles Times.
The death made him confront the idea of mortality but rather than being afraid of death, he found freedom in accepting the fact that someday it has to happen. “Watching him die. All of a sudden I was like, ‘Oh, right, I’m going to die too.’ Here it is. It’s not in a book. It’s not in a movie. It’s not in a story that was told to me. It’s not driving by an accident or watching it on TV. It’s someone you love dying in front of you. I was like, ‘Okay. This is death. And this is going to happen to me one day,’” Cooper said.
“There was a huge freedom that came with that. So now I just don’t sweat the … small stuff. My mind is just less busy now.”
The actor from A Star is Born also no longer worries about the little things and can truly be himself. “And if someone’s not going to like me, that’s just the way it is,” he said. “I used to think, ‘Oh, my God. I don’t want to make anyone not like me. I don’t want to ruffle any feathers.’ Now it’s like, ‘I’m just going to be myself and trust that.’ And I’m enjoying life more.”
The actor also revealed that his family was extremely close and his father’s loss was difficult for them. Following his death, Cooper started living with his mother so that they could both survive it together. “We’re surviving. Both of us. Let’s face it: It’s probably not easy for her, by the way, to be living with her son. It’s life. And right now, two years after my father’s death, this is where we are… we need each other. So here we are,” the actor previously shared.
One thing that keeps Cooper going is feeling like his dad is still part of his life. “My dad works his way into my life every day,” he told NPR. He even admitted to Oprah Winfrey that he sees his father in his first child with Irina Shayk.
“Our daughter, she’s incredible. And I see my father in her quite often,” he said, as quoted by People. “I can’t believe I’m gonna admit this, but I had moments when… I was in the room with her, I would say, ‘Dad?’” he said. “There are some moments where she looks just like my father. I watch too many movies.”
After the grief of losing his father, he found that raising a child also positively changed him in several ways. He told NPR, “I guess having a child and having a family of my own, which is a miracle and something I’ve always dreamt of, has opened me up even more, I guess, to the day and to be present.”