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This story first appeared in the Oct. 23 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
Most actors can have successful careers without even knowing who Anthony Bourdain is. But Bradley Cooper has managed to play a Bourdain-esque chef twice in the past decade. Coming off a breakout role in 2005’s Wedding Crashers, Cooper played a fictionalized version of Bourdain in Fox’s short-lived 2005 sitcom Kitchen Confidential, based on the now-59-year-old Parts Unknown host’s 2000 memoir. Now, in The Weinstein Co.’s Burnt, the three-time Oscar nominee, 40, again plays a cook who engages in recreational drug use and wild behavior — a self-destructive streak highly reminiscent of Bourdain’s early career. (Cooper draws from experience: He’s battled his own addiction demons, and, as a teenager, he worked in two restaurants doing prep work.)
The Hollywood Reporter was definitely upbeat about Confidential when it premiered. “An energetic blend of sex, sophistication, outlandishness and rat-a-tat-tat dialogue spilling from the mouths of effortlessly attractive characters,” said the review. THR especially liked the line: “Did anyone see the tip of my finger?”
Despite being canceled after just four episodes, the show received a Writers Guild nomination for best episodic comedy. Confidential was sunk by a perfect storm: It was just ahead of the curve on the food craze; the network head who ordered it, Gail Berman, left before it got to air; and the premiere episode was bumped for the World Series. However, it did give Cooper his first major exposure as a leading man.
“The moment I saw his tape, I knew he was a rock star and we had to have this guy for the show,” says creator David Hemingson, who since has gone on to work on Black-ish. “He had this quality of being both brazen and incredibly vulnerable at the same time. It was something I’d never seen before or since.” Burnt (previously titled Adam Jones) is set for an Oct. 30 wide release.