If you're anything like me, the primary feeling A Star Is Born left you with was ambivalence about Bradley Cooper's hair.
I'm still working out my feelings about it. It was long, stringy, and greasy — but in a cool, world-weary, rough-around-the-edges rock star kind of way. The film's lead hair stylist, Lori McCoy-Bell, told Refinery29 there's actually a lot of meaning behind the hairstyle and it's used to depict nuance in the film. Okay.
All of this got me thinking: Cooper has had an incredibly impressive range of cuts and styles throughout his career. Some good. Some bad. Some inexplicably blond. I've ranked them below, taking into account criteria such as memorability, overall enhancement of handsomeness, and the style's ability to tell a story.
9. White guy dreadlocks from Hit And Run
Yup, this happened. In 2012, Cooper starred in a movie called Hit And Run. He had dreadlocks. I don't really need to explain the many, many problems here. Let's just pretend this never happened and move on.
8. Blond shag from Alias
(Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
Oh, Bradley, you really should have left this look to Spicoli. Cooper rocked a variety of blond looks — many of them either far too shaggy or far too spiky — during his days on Alias, but as he got more famous, he leaned more into his true calling as a brunette.
7. Slicked back from his red carpet appearances
(Jason Merritt/Getty Images)
This isn't from a specific movie or TV show, but for some reason, this is the look Cooper seems to favor during red carpet appearances — though the amount of product always varies. I'm just not sure what he's trying to say with this hair, and the overly gelled, shellacked-to-his-head style does nothing for overall enhancement of handsomeness.
It should be noted that this is a style Cooper was sporting all the way back in high school in suburban Philadelphia.
6. '80s preppy look from Wet Hot American Summer
Before Cooper became a huge movie star, he was in this low-budget comedy masterpiece — the first movie he ever did — rocking the hair equivalent of a pink polo with a popped collar. This is a silly hairstyle style, of course, but it looks downright elegant next to Amy Poehler's over-the-top feathered 'do. He pulls it off for the purposes of the film, but it's a look we don't want to see again.
5. Tousled Navy S.E.A.L. hair from American Sniper
(Warner Bros. Entertainment)
Okay, so Cooper is usually wearing a baseball cap or helmet in this movie, but I still want to give a shoutout to his hair, because it does tell a story, that story being that he's a freaking sniper and doesn't care about his damn hair. When we do see it, it's pretty tousled from being underneath a helmet. It's a look that adds to his grizzled, hard exterior, and one we likely won't see again unless he does another military movie.
4. No-nonsense crew cut* from Wedding Crashers
Forget for a moment, if you will, that this character was a total garbage person. This classic crew cut from one of Cooper's earliest movie roles gets points for enhancement of handsomeness — because it really lets his baby blues shine. Some of Cooper's more elaborate styles have simply taken too much attention away from his eyes. Cooper rocks some similar close-cropped realness in Silver Linings Playbook, which works especially well when paired with a trash bag.
*My mom and I argued for 15 minutes about whether this qualifies as a crew cut, and what constitutes a crew cut in general, so if any hair experts want to weigh in, hit me up.
3. Greasy rock star locks from A Star Is Born
You know what? I've made up my mind. This look deserves high marks because it doesn't just tell a story — it's truly part of the story. Cooper's character, Jackson Maine, is a dirty, sweaty, sexy rock star. He's also an addict struggling with alcoholism. McCoy-Bell said the hair was meant to reflect all of this, and added, "There is a slight difference in how Jackson's hair and his skin look when he's doing well and sober.”
And really, the question of whether or not this hair enhances or hinders the overall handsomeness is mostly going to depend on your mood.
2. Flowy waves from The Hangover
Is this the role Cooper should be the most proud of? Obviously not. But there's something about this style — abundant, flowing, effortless waves — that feels like peak Bradley Cooper. Not overly coiffed, but not neglected. There's some extremely strong enhancement of overall handsomeness happening here.
1. Glorious, iconic ringlets from American Hustle
(Annapurna Productions LLC)
This style is far and away the pièce de résistance of Cooper's hair moments. First of all, this style truly transports us to the 1970s. Second of all, he he spent nearly two hours in the stylist's chair achieving this look every single day during filming (and another hour for makeup). Third of all, it's completely different from his standard styles and thus stands out the most. And, finally, most men would look ridiculous rocking these ringlets, but he somehow maintains a level of gravitas. He's wearing the hairstyle; the hairstyle is not wearing him.
So bravo, Bradley, on your impressive hairstyle oeuvre. (But you've still got a long way to go until you've racked up as diverse a hair portfolio as Nicolas Cage.)