'August: Osage County' director John Wells saddles up to 'Chef' with Bradley Cooper
Bradley Cooper has been moving right along with his post-"Silver Linings" playbook. He's currently shooting David O. Russell's "American Hustle" and smartly backed away from the on-going circus that is "Jane Got a Gun" this week. Earlier today it was announced that Steven Spielberg will be tackling "American Sniper" with Cooper in the lead role as the most lethal sniper in US military history, while he attached himself to the Steven Knight-scripted "Chef" not too long ago.
On the latter, it's a fantastic script and an unbelievably meaty role. For a time David Fincher was looking into it with Keanu Reeves in the starring role as a high-strung two-time Michelin Star chef dodging drug dealer debts and mixing it up from Paris to New York.
In truth, I'd say the part is tailor made for Robert Downey Jr. (funnily enough, given the retrospective treatment here this afternoon). But it's a great opportunity for Cooper, too, and his "Place Beyond the Pines" helmer Derek Cianfrance was also flirting with it for a time. Now, it looks like John Wells is inching toward a deal to make it his "August: Osage County" follow-up.
I'm really impressed with all these moves Cooper has been making. He's on the cusp of a very defining moment in his career, coming off his first Oscar nomination, dabbling with masters and finding his way to a sort of creative freedom that will probably surprise us just as his work in "Silver Linings Playbook" did. It kind of reminds me of where Ben Affleck probably should have gone after "Good Will Hunting" before falling into the movie star rabbit hole. Cooper, and certainly his representation, seems to have a tasteful eye and a clear idea of the kind of star he wants to be.
Meanwhile, John Wells is in an interesting place, too. I was a big fan of the former WGA West president's directorial debut, "The Company Men," and I'm eager to see how he navigates the waters of Tracy Letts's brilliance with this year's "August: Osage County" (sure to be an awards contender).
Honestly, though, I wouldn't have pegged "Chef" as something in his wheel house. It feels more like a Shane Black/Robert Downey Jr. thing to me, but stretching and being versatile with material like this is a sure sign that Wells is looking to expand his own horizons. So I'm pulling for him. Again, it's a great project, and keep your eye on Cooper to pick up more awards attention for his performance, particularly with The Weinstein Company peddling it for as much. The role is just that juicy.
Meanwhile, for a taste (so to speak) of Cooper all suited up for such a part, there's always TV's short-lived "Kitchen Confidential" to give you an idea (though the character in "Chef" is way, way darker than this):