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Bradley Cooper ‘thrilled’ to work with a boyhood pal on ‘The Words’

Bradley Cooper Zoe Saldan'The Words'

Bradley Cooper and Zoe Saldana in "The Words"

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Updated: October 3, 2012 6:09AM

Bradley Cooper can easily find the words to describe his nerd past. “Hot is the exact opposite word that I’d use to describe my young life,” says Cooper. “I was not one of the cool kids. I wasn’t even on the radar.

“I wasn’t even good at Four Square,” he says with a laugh. “Remember that game? The other kids wouldn’t even let me play.”

Cooper, 37, is digging deep into his past for a reason. He kicks back with his BFF from grade school, Brian Klugman, to talk about their new movie.

“The film proves that being nerds can have a very happy ending,” says Klugman.

Cooper, best known for playing Phil in “The Hangover” mega-franchise, says, “Brian is my best friend in the world. When I first moved to Los Angeles, Brian did a staged reading of a script he wrote with Jack Klugman [his uncle] playing the old man. I was thrilled when many years later, he asked me to be the young man in the movie version.”

The movie Cooper is talking about is “The Words,” co-written and co-directed by Klugman and opening Friday. He plays Rory Jansen, a young writer enjoying the success of a runaway best-selling book. It turns out that he didn’t write the book, but found an ancient manuscript in a briefcase in a French antique shop and passed the work off as his own.

Jeremy Irons plays the actual writer, an old man now, who based the work on his own tragic life story.

The film is a cautionary tale about plagiarism, a topic Cooper wanted to explore. “One of the things we talked about is the fact that my character Rory didn’t set out to steal those words. He types them into his computer from this old manuscript because he just wants to feel those wonderful words passing through his fingers.

“His wife sees the manuscript and thinks it’s his work. She admires his work so much that he wants to be that man in his wife’s eyes. He likes what he sees now when his wife looks at him,” Cooper says.

Cooper says he understands that need to succeed.

“I’m a man who is very happy with the simple things,” he says. “But I do remember being in grad school studying acting in New York City. I wanted it so badly. Booking a commercial felt great. It was all about the little successes for me.

“Was I impatient? Not about success. I’m impatient about other things in life. But I haven’t been impatient about acting success because there is no end line. It’s all about how you feel about yourself.”

Rory’s wife is played by Zoe Saldana. The two were briefly linked personally in real life. He won’t comment on that stuff but acknowledges that doing sex scenes with Saldana was “awkward.”

“I don’t think you can create heat on screen. You have to let it happen organically,” he says. “Sex scenes for me always come about in a comedic way. It’s just ironic that you’re having the most intimate scenes with 30 crew people only inches away.”

Cooper hails from Philadelphia, where he met Klugman. How did they meet?

“Online,” Cooper jokes. “No, I transferred to his school and he was really nice to me. We also took the train together to New York. My backyard was our movie set.”

“Together, we saw ‘Platoon,’ ‘Stand by Me,’ ‘The Natural’ and ‘Yentl,’ ” Cooper recalls.

Cooper graduated the Honors English program at Georgetown University and then high-tailed it to New York, where he studied at the Actors Studio. He began his career on stage and even did a quick role in “Sex and the City” as one of Carrie’s short-lived loves. His break was being cast in the series “Alias.”

He will start filming “The Hangover III” soon. “The truth is it is the last one,” Cooper insists. “It all comes together in the end.”

He also will star for director David O. Russell in a film about the FBI sting operation Abscam in the 1970s that led to the conviction of U.S. lawmakers.

Jeremy Renner and Amy Adams co-star.

Says Cooper, “It’s a dream come true to work with your friends and work with your heroes.”

Big Picture News Inc.

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