"Who the hell is Bradley Cooper?!"

That was my producer on the horror film we've been trying to cast for the last six months when I first brought up the idea of casting Bradley Cooper as the lead in the film.  I've liked the guy's work since the first season of "Alias," but when you're casting a film, specifically in the independent world, there's a list of people that they'll consider, and how much money your financiers will give you depends largely on who you have playing the lead in the film.  And when his name came up last summer, at my suggestion, it was quickly apparent that no one signing the checks knew or cared who he was.

Man, are they gonna be sorry.

I just got out of a screening of "The Hangover," and while my review for that is embargoed and won't be published until closer to the film's release, I can safely say that everyone involved is going to have a very, very good summer.  And Cooper in particular really steps up in his first comic lead.  He's demonstrated some real range over the last few years, and this feels like a sort of graduation for him as a performer.

[more after the jump]

But his biggest role yet is the one he may be playing for Warner Bros. later this summer.  I've just spent the last hour or so on the phones, tracking down a rumor I heard, and HitFix can exclusively report that Bradley Cooper is now one of the guys most likely to don the suit and slip on the power ring as The Green Lantern for director Martin Campbell.

Let's be clear:  they have not hired him yet.  But the process is far enough along that this is more than just a meeting or some spot on a wish list.  Keep in mind that Campbell likes to see a lot of people when he's casting... and even when he's screen-testing, he seems willing to explore as many options as possible... but with the film set to shoot later this summer, they've got to start making their choices, and now's the time to put people in front of the camera and see who really works in the suit.

I'm not a betting man, but if I were, I would bet that Cooper's going to be the guy, and I'm going to also bet that the next time someone has that conversation about casting a movie, and they're running down a list of names, no one is going to have to ask "Who the hell is Bradley Cooper?" because they'll know.