TORONTO -- Bradley Cooper seems to be everywhere these days, not that anyone is complaining. He was People magazine's sexiest man alive a year ago, after all.
During the Toronto International Film Festival in September, he was sitting next to director David O. Russell and actress Jennifer Lawrence at a press conference for "Silver Linings Playbook" that also included Chris Tucker, Aussie actress and Oscar nominee Jacki Weaver and veteran Indian performer Anupam Kher.
The comedy, being released Nov. 21, is getting a sneak preview at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Regent Square Theater as part of the Three Rivers Film Festival. It's about a Philadelphia man who discovered his wife was cheating on him, went nuts on the guy and spent eight months in a Baltimore institution on a plea bargain.
Now, he's back home with his parents, Robert De Niro and Ms. Weaver, and he thinks he can reclaim his wife, house and substitute teaching job.
Ms. Lawrence plays a widowed neighbor who offers to help him get a letter to his estranged wife (there's a restraining order he needs to circumvent).
The Matthew Quick source novel and movie are set in Mr. Cooper's hometown of Philadelphia.
"One thing that David nailed, so often movies that are set in Philadelphia, if you're not from there, you assume that it's basically some sort of mirrored, small reflection of New York City. But it's not at all," the actor said.
"It has its own accent and its own interesting mentality that I felt was very tangible in this movie. The house, the production design, they live in is so accurate," he said of a home with furnishings, such as a china closet and dining room set, and draperies that likely were new in the 1960s or '70s.
"The way that everybody comes together and you can walk into any household on the weekend in one of those homes and you're going to have about five people sitting around doing various things. At the end of the movie, with people playing cards and making braciole, that's how I grew up."
Mr. Cooper called that a "real embedded element in the movie." More cultivated than embedded is the lightning-fast dialogue which sprang from writing and rehearsal.
"What you don't want is this person speaks and then this person speaks, which is how you tend to start the day," the director-writer said. "If you get it broken in, like a baseball mitt, by the time you've warmed it up, people are just going the way it is in real life."
The musicality of the dialogue makes the mitt softer and softer, Mr. Bradley added. "He gets every actor to a place where they're out of their head and they're actually in the moment interacting with the other person in real time.
"And because of the way it's written and the rhythms of each character, you have this sort of cacophony of voices that create this sort of jazz music," and once you're in the zone, "We would just start hitting it, hitting it, hitting it, hitting it, it's very exciting."
The leads begged to differ, however, over another skill the movie demanded: dancing.
Ms. Lawrence said of her lessons, "I had about double Bradley's. I had extra homework because I'm an extra bad dancer." Her co-star muttered, "That's not true," to which she insisted, "I'm awful."
"We had an amazing dance teacher, Mandy Moore, and she worked very hard with me. I think, like, two weeks every day," said the actress whose fancy footwork and performance could have her dancing down the red carpet on Oscar night as a nominee.
A version of this story first appeared in the Mad About the Movies blog at post-gazette.com/movies.