Credit: Peggy Sirota/GQ

Bradley Cooper is one of Hollywood's most sought-after men these days, but in the early aughts, he was a struggling young actor with a supporting, role opposite Jennifer Garner on ABC spy show Alias. "I would only work three days a week," the American Hustle star, 38, tells the January issue of GQ of his role as Will Tippin, the sweet, clueless roommate of secret spy Sydney Bristow (Garner) on the series. Things went downhill for Cooper after the show's 2001 premiere as his character was given less and less screen time. "And then for the second season, I got even more sidelined. I was like, 'Ugh.'"

Continues the Oscar nominee: "And then next thing you know, I was like, 'I want to f---ing kill myself.'" Ambitious but dissatisfied, Cooper took the drastic step of asking series creator and director J.J. Abrams to write him off of the show -- even though he had zero job prospects at the time. "J.J. was like, 'Okay.' He probably would've fired me, anyway."

Making matters worse for the future A-lister at the time: A serious struggle with drugs and alcohol. "If I continued it, I was really going to sabotage my whole life," he observes.

"I think work was getting f---ed up," Cooper explains. "The one thing that I've learned in life is the best thing I can do is embrace who I am and then do that to the fullest extent, and then whatever happens, happens. The more steps I do to not do that, the farther I am away from fulfilling any potential I would have . . .Yes, of course it hindered the work."

Once Cooper got sober, his situation improved drastically. "I was doing these movies, and I got to meet Sandra Bullock and meet these people and work with them," he says. "And I'm sober, and I'm like, 'Oh, I'm actually myself. And I don't have to put on this air to be somebody else, and this person still wants to work with me? Oh, what the f--- is that about?’ I was rediscovering myself in this workplace, and it was wonderful."