Rydal homeboy Bradley Cooper, 36, received a hero's welcome Sunday night in West Philadelphia when he premiered Limitless, his banging black-comic thriller at the Rave/University of Pennsylvania theaters. The film screened in two houses, one for cast and crew of the shot-in-Philly film, the other for the actor's friends and family, including mother, Gloria, and many of his teachers and schoolmates from Germantown Academy (class of '93).
Directed by Neil Burger (The Illusionist), the film stars Cooper as a blocked writer who pops a designer drug that lets him access 100% of his brain. Like its hero, the movie fires on all neurons, and marks Cooper's graduation from the ensemble (The Hangover, He's Just Not That Into You) to leading man. Screenwriter Leslie Dixon adapted the 2001 novel The Dark Fields into a white-hot script that Heath Ledger was interested in and Shia LeBeouf attached to before Cooper was cast.
After the cast and crew screening, film office executive director Sharon Pinkenson interviewed Cooper, whose presence inspired libidinous sighs from many of the woman (and more than a few men) present. One of them asked, "Is the makeup person from the movie here? Because to make Bradley Cooper look not gorgeous is genius makeup artistry." Cooper (who in the movie runs the gamut from grunge to glam) self-effacingly responded, "What they did is didn't put makeup on."
In the film, some of it shot in Manhattan, Philadelphia doubles for New York. Among the locations used are the Palomar Hotel, Rittenhouse Square, Butcher and Singer, Capital Grille, Del Frisco's, The Happy Rooster, Marathon Grill (on Market Street), Sampan and the AAA Building.
Your favorite Cooper performance? I'm going with Limitless (which opens March 18).