Bradley Cooper on His Late Father and Deciding to Get Sober

Part 9: The actor tells Barbara Walters he stopped drinking in his late 20s and his father had a great love for movies.
6:59 | 12/18/15

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Transcript for Bradley Cooper on His Late Father and Deciding to Get Sober
He is well-respected, well-paid, and well, nice. Bradley cooper has that "Regular guy" story that makes you believe good things happen to good people, as long as they fight the good fight. First of all, Bradley cooper is your real name. Yep. Reporter: Do you like it? Uh, I always wanted to be Charlie cooper. My dad's name was Charlie. Reporter: Oh. His father, my grandfather, was Charlie. I love that name. Reporter: I wanted to be called babs Elliot. If I call you Charlie -- I'll call you babs and you call me Charlie. Reporter: Okay. Done. Bradley! Reporter: There's an old formula for the perfect matinee idol -- men want to be him, women want to be with him. Handsome, but not too, and that intangible that makes you feel like you know this guy off-camera, and he's all right. If there is a race for male superstar of this generation, Bradley cooper is the leading man. You got eyes on this? Can you confirm? Reporter: And what a year for Mr. Cooper. All clear. Reporter: "American sniper", directed by Clint Eastwood, breaks box office records in January. He's nominated for an Oscar for the same role in February. He throws his name behind a TV adaptation of his movie "Limitless" in September. Service! Reporter: Releases his passion project "Burnt" in October, and he has a fourth counter movie with Jennifer Lawrence coming out on Christmas day, "Joy." Do you know what QVC stands for, joy? No, I don't. Quality, value, convenience. Reporter: Many women see you as the perfect man. Hmm. Reporter: Tell me something awful about yourself. Um, I can be obsessive, I think. Reporter: Well, we -- I also like to talk about things. But, you know, I grew up in a family of people arguing at the dinner table, you know? I grew up in a very -- you know, it wasn't a shy group. Reporter: 40 years ago, Bradley Charles cooper was born in Philadelphia, the second child of a stockbroker and a homemaker. It was a good childhood -- lots of faith, football, and family dinners. As we get older, we realize how -- we were just talking about it yesterday, actually. My mom said, "You know, we were really very lucky." I loved waking up in my family, and that's not always the case. Reporter: No. When he was 12, young Bradley saw the film "The elephant man," the heartbreaking true story of the inhumane treatment of a grotesquely deformed man in Victorian England. It changed you. Floored me. First of all, I was devastated by it. I couldn't stop crying. I am not an animal! My father sat me down and said, "Let's look at this movie." Reporter: Did he want you to be an actor? No, no. He just wanted to share his love of cinema. Reporter: You were so close to your father. And he died not that many years ago. Yeah, 2011. I dreamt about him last night. It's so funny you said that. I woke up this morning. I was so happy he was in my dream last night. It was like a beautiful little moment. How you doing, Mr. De Niro? My name is Bradley cooper. My question is regarding "Awakenings." Reporter: His father had a profound influence. After college, Bradley took out a $70,000 loan and enrolled in the actors studio. Hey, Mr. Penn. My name is Bradley cooper. I'm a second-year actor. Reporter: You can still see him playing the role of curious student in reruns. Hey. Reporter: Bradley worked a lot. But he was a type -- rich, spoiled, shallow. We're gonna be on the field in 10. Reporter: Remember that snotty guy you really hated in "The wedding crashers"? Yeah. That was Bradley. Big tree fall hard. Reporter: Something was holding him back. Hey, Mary. I'm Steve. Reporter: So when he got passed over for yet another big role, he asked his agent why. I said, "Hey, have we ever heard back from the movie?" And the person said, "Yeah, yeah, we did. Not good." Yeah, the feedback was you're not really . Reporter: I think we have to bleep that. Or to translate, I don't know whether they have to bleep this as well, you're un. Yeah. Yeah. Reporter: So how do you go from being un To being the sexiest man alive? You tell me. I have no idea. Reporter: Obviously, there's something afoot. To a night the four of us will never forget. Reporter: Yes, something was afoot. Thank jack black and Paul rudd for passing on a role in "The hangover," leaving a virtual unknown to win by default. We can't find Doug. We're getting married in five hours. Yeah. That's not gonna happen. Am I missing a tooth? Reporter: "The hangover" made a fortune. And made Bradley cooper into a household name. The title of the movie, it turns out, is dripping with irony. I don't think I've ever been this hungover. Reporter: In your late 20s, you stopped drinking. I stopped drinking, yeah. Reporter: Very difficult? No. Beautiful. Unbelievable. Better. You kidding me? I would never been sitting here with you. No way, no chance. Reporter: Because? Because I wouldn't have been able to have access to myself or other people or even been able to take in other people if I hadn't changed my life. No way. And I never would have been able to have relationships that I do. I never would have been able to take care of my father the way I did when he was sick. So many things. Hey! Whoa! Hey! Reporter: He has been nominated for an Oscar three times. At this stage, Bradley winning one of the little fellows seems more a question of when then if. And coming up full circle, last year, he even got to play the elephant man on Broadway. Bradley lives with his mother these days. She moved in with him after the death of his father, the man who introduced him to movies. You are not married. No. Reporter: But you are wearing -- Yeah, that's his ring, yeah. Reporter: Your father's wedding ring. Yeah. Reporter: Would he be very pleased today to see you and to know what you're doing and what you've become? Oh, my gosh, yes. Reporter: Yeah? Yes. I think he wouldn't believe it. I really wish -- I mean, thank god he was alive for so many of the successes, but like, the Clint Eastwood thing, he would have really loved. That was one of his heroes. Reporter: Can you do him for me? Clint Eastwood? Sure. Reporter: Okay. What should we do? Reporter: It's up to you, Charlie. I mean, Clint. I got to say, Barbara, you're looking really good. When's the last time we saw each other? 1981, maybe. Oh, no. It was for that musical, "Jersey boys." I remember that day. I didn't -- I was a little shy 'cause you -- you looked so sexy, but maybe I got a shot now. Reporter: Yes! Yes! Thank you. I enjoyed it. I really did. Thank you, Bradley. Thanks. Reporter: Charlie. Whatever. Whatever you want to be is okay with me, okay?

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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