Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper
Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper

As "Silver Linings Playbook" comes out on DVD, the film that earned Bradley Cooper his first best actor Oscar nomination, well-reviewed "Place Beyond the Pines" is playing around the country, "The Hangover Part III" hits theaters on May 24, and Steven Spielberg has picked as his next movie "American Sniper," which was developed by Cooper's Warner Bros. production company. He'll star as Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, an ace sniper who was tragically killed. This actor is clearly doing something right.

In February Cooper rejoined David O. Russell for his next film, Abscam 80s drama "American Hustle," set for year-end award-season release from Sony, in which he'll co-star with "Silver Linings" pals Jennifer Lawrence and Robert De Niro, plus "The Fighter" Oscar-winners Christian Bale and Amy Adams, as well as Russell newbies Jeremy Renner, Jack Huston, Louis CK and Michael Pena.

And just to keep things interesting, Cooper has already shot "Serena" a North Carolina 1929 period drama co-starring Lawrence as his ambitious wife, directed by Susanne Bier, who won the Oscar for Danish foreign entry "In a Better World." "I keep working with this amazing woman," he says. "It's another big swing. Susanne's a very strong director, very collaborative too. There's not much dolly track, it's hand held."

Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper in 'Serena'
Photo by Larry Horricks. Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper in 'Serena'

The film will likely turn up on the fall festival circuit in advance as it seeks a North American distributor.

Cooper isn't sitting back and waiting for things to come to him. When he's not turning down raunchy comedies from the studios --unless it's an actual "Hangover" sequel--he's doing favors for friends, like playing a deliciously creepy criminal in no-budget road comedy "Hit and Run" for Dax Shepherd, or the author who takes credit for writing a bestseller in "The Words," for director Brian Klugman. "He's my best friend since I was a kid," says Cooper. "Those two choices were no-brainers. If I'm in a position where I can help somebody else fulfill their goal I'm going to do it. It may be seen as stupid. But I loved the experience of both of those films, I love those guys."

Dax Shepard and Bradley Cooper in 'Hit and Run'
Dax Shepard and Bradley Cooper in 'Hit and Run'

He also defends the diversity of his roles in bigger movies like Joe Carnahan actioner "The A Team" with Liam Neeson and Sharlto Copley ("I learned to run and gun in a real way") and Neil Burger's smart-drug thriller "Limitless," which "couldn't have been more different."

Cooper has his eye on role models Ben Affleck and George Clooney: yes, he's watching his directors carefully, because he wants to direct. He's even co-writing a screenplay adaptation of Dan Simmons' sci-fi entry "Hyperion," about seven travelers tracking a demon god. "My experience with David [Russell] opened the doors for that," he says. "He shared his process, I learned so much from him, I will steal everything I can to make a movie on my own."

Cooper was in the middle of shooting his dramatic role as a beat cop who rises to district attorney in Derek Cianfrance's "Place Beyond the Pines" when he got the call from Russell on "Silver Linings Playbook." He knew that Jennifer Lawrence and his old friend Robert De Niro were involved, so he just said 'yes.' He had already read the script and thought it had gone away. "This and the character I played in 'Place Beyond the Pines,' although for different reasons," he told me, "I really felt I wasn't right for the roles. I just didn't know if I could do this, if I could pull this off in a real way."