The side of Bradley Cooper no one knows

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Despite having lived nearly a third of my life in California, I am woefully short on celebrity encounters. Woefully short. As in zero. About the best I can offer is that, once, I stood in line behind Jay Thomas at the Starbucks in Burbank while visiting my brother and sister-in-law. No offense to Jay Thomas, but it was less than thrilling. Even the sous-chef got to share an elevator with Rod Stewart when he was a teenager. Me? Nothing.

But there is this one thing. I went abroad with Bradley Cooper. Now, before you get yourselves all in a lather, let me explain. It was 1996… long before he was… well, before he was Bradley Cooper A-Lister. Then, he was just Bradley Cooper, student from Georgetown, and I was Courtney Scott, student from Bates, and we were thrown together for about six months with 15 or so other French-speaking 20-somethings on a college semester abroad in Aix-en-Provence.

Our whole group at dinner together once a week in a local restaurant.

Our whole group ate dinner together, family-style, once a week in a local restaurant.

At the end of the semester, we took a whole series of gag photos.

At the end of the semester, we took a whole series of gag photos. Not sure why. Seemed funny then.

Even though this brief exposure to Mr. Cooper seemed every bit ordinary while it was occurring, people generally get wide-eyed and little breathless when I tell them about it (not so much the requester of this post… I believe she just finds it to be a fun fact about me). The conversation that follows usually goes a little something like this…

“Was he cute back then?” Yes, very. All the girls on the trip crushed on him a bit, but he had a girlfriend in DC that he seemed very dedicated to, so it was really nothing more than that – a little eye candy in the classroom. I wish I had a juicy story of a random hookup between him and someone on the trip, but to my knowledge, no such indiscretion occurred.

“What was he like?” He wore these red jeans almost daily. Seriously. This is the thing I remember most about him. They were so unusual for the time and he truly loved those pants. I am absolutely kicking my self that I can’t find any pictures of him in them.

Which actually leads me to the other thing I remember about him from that semester… he was kind of a loner. Not in a bad way… I also remember him being perfectly nice and sweet and even a little funny. But he was definitely not a main character in the group.

As you can imagine, when a gaggle of American student descend on a small French town and they are all 20 and 21 years old, you get close pretty quickly. You party like crazy people together and I have no memories of him taking part in that. I have dozens of lovely pics of our group from those months – most of which show 10 or 12 of us together. He’s not in a single one.

“Did he always want to be an actor?” I can’t say for sure, but I don’t think so… It certainly never came up that I remember. He spoke French really well – as you all now know – but that wasn’t especially remarkable, as it was a pretty intense, full immersion program. We could all parler with the best of them. He was a little on the serious side and I *think* he might have been a PoliSci major? I guess I imagined him becoming a lawyer or a professor. Not quite.

“Are you still in touch?” Well, last time I was texting with my bestie J-Law, I totes asked her to give him a fist pump fur meee. Um. No. I don’t remember exactly, but if I had to guess, I’d say I gave him a quick hug goodbye in about June of 1996 and that was the last Bradley and I ever knew of each other.

Until… one day… there he was! At the time, I saw him on television acting in a super short-lived show called Kitchen Confidential. According to IMDb – the source of all things act-y – his first gig was on Sex and the City in 1999… just a few short years after I knew him. I remember feeling excited for him – though I didn’t know him well, I loved that semester away and would have been happy for any of the alum to make it big. That’s what I thought when he had his little TV series, he’d “made it.” Silly girl.

So now, Bradley Cooper is famous. Like, front-row-of-the-Oscars-famous. And I write this blog for you. It seems like it all worked out for us both.

85th Annual Academy Awards - Show

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