SCHENECTADY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Before becoming a four-time Academy Award nominee, an A-list actor spent time getting to know and befriending the Schenectady Police Department.
Bradley Cooper has received Oscar acting nominations for the Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle, and he received two nominations for acting and producing American Sniper.
But before he was on his Oscar roll, the up-and-coming star was in the Capital Region shooting a film, and he connected with more than just the camera.
“He showed a genuine interest and desire to see what it is like to be a police officer; really, really attentive,” Lt. Mark McCracken with the Schenectady Police Department said.
To prepare for his role in The Place Beyond the Pines, Cooper spent the summer of 2011 riding patrol cars and hanging out with the Schenectady Police Department.
“I said, ‘Do you want to know what we’re really like?’” McCracken recalled. “He said, ‘Absolutely.’ I said, ‘Alright.’ A couple of guys raided my humidors, and we enjoyed a cigar or two.”
Cooper, meanwhile, studied how the men in blue interacted.
“Quiet as a church mouse sometimes but laughing, telling stories like the rest of the boys,” Sgt. Michael McLaughlin described.
Cooper forged a bond that didn’t end when the filming stopped. Of the night of the Schenectady premiere, he skipped the after party.
“He come here at the station and knocked on the back door and was let in,” Asst. Chief Michael Seber said.
“As if he missed his long lost friends – came in, said hi, tried to catch up with a lot of the guys,” McLaughlin said.
Nearly four years later, it doesn’t take much to jog the memory of the officers who spent time with Cooper.
“Real nice guy,” McCracken said. “Very, very genuine. Just very, very considerate; solid, nice dude.”
Cooper even bought the department two big screen televisions for the workout room after he asked the officers what he could do for them. But there were some heavy moments.
In the film, Cooper’s character fatally shoots a man in the line of duty. It’s something Officer Ed Ritz experienced, so Cooper reached out to Ritz and even had lunch at his house.
“He had spent quite a bit of time talking about what he had gone through, and its impact on him,” McCracken said.
The Schenectady officers continued to follow Cooper on the big screen as he donned a military uniform for his portrayal of Chris Kyle in American Sniper. Cooper trained with former Navy Seals but wasn’t able to spend time with Kyle before his tragic death.
“I think the advantage of working with us and some of the life experience he brings to his parts, he really gets a breadth of experience and draw from that,” McLaughlin said of working first-hand with an actor.
But one thing’s for sure – Schenectady police have Cooper’s back on what could be the biggest night of his illustrious career. The A-lister will find out if he wins the Oscar for Best Actor or Best Picture for American Sniper at the 87th annual Academy Awards on Sunday night.