How can a sexy A-lister like Bradley Cooper play the deformed Elephant Man Joseph Merrick without any makeup or prosthetics? In a new interview with 60 Minutes, Cooper, 40, explains the live transformation he does eight shows a week on Broadway in NYC. 

“[I do it] by believing I’m him,” the three-time Oscar nominee said. “That’s how I do it. If I’m acting like I’m him or I don’t quite make that leap of faith, there’s absolutely no way you’re going to make it. I had to do a tremendous amount of work to get to the place where I do believe I’m him.”

On the stage Cooper starts off standing shirtless before mimicking the deformities that afflicted Merrick as described by the physician, who is addressing the audience. The real-life Merrick had enlarged feet, hip damage, and a bony lump on his head.

“If I don’t make that leap in that moment, the rest of the play’s not going to work,” he said.  

The transition is impressive and one that has garnered the actor critical praise and acclaim. He’s currently gearing up for next week’s Oscars, where he is nominated for the third time in a row, this year for American Sniper.

His role as the late Chris Kyle has been the subject of controversy, from those who argue the Clint Eastwood flick is pro-war propaganda.  

“I never saw it as that,” he said. “I saw it as telling a personal story.”

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