Bradley Cooper Explains The Connection Between His Father's Passing And His Parenting

Losing his father helped Cooper become a more present parent to his daughter.

Bradley Cooper Ron Adar / Shutterstock

Bradley Cooper recently scaled a cliff — literally and figuratively — with Bear Grylls in an episode of "Running Wild with Bear Grylls: The Challenge." The 48-year-old actor discussed losing his father and how he grew to be a better father through navigating his grief, all while hanging off the side of a cliff in Wyoming.

Bradley Cooper explained the connection between his father’s passing and his journey as a parent.

Cooper has one daughter, Lea, 6, who he shares with his ex, Irina Shayk. While Cooper and Shayk generally keep Lea out of the public eye, Cooper took a rare moment to talk about his deep love for his daughter and how mourning his father led him to being a better dad.


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bradley cooper and irina shaykPhoto: Featureflash Photo Agency / Shutterstock

Cooper claimed that his father’s death was “a blessing,” stating, “He gave me a huge gift; he died in my arms. To see that kind of factual example of mortality.”


Grylls asked Cooper if his father’s death changed how he looks at things, to which Cooper responded, “Oh, yeah. Some ways for the worst.”

Losing his father led him to acquire “a nihilistic attitude after, for a little bit,” as he came to grips with the inevitable fact that he, too, would someday die. He said that realization came to him “just like, wow, I’m gonna die.”

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Accepting his own mortality allowed Cooper to fully accept himself and become a better parent in the process.

“I realized I had to just embrace who I actually am and try to find peace with that,” he said.


Grylls questioned how losing his dad affected Cooper as a father, himself, asking, “How do you approach fatherhood now? You’ve had that whole journey with your dad and now you’re a dad.”

Cooper’s perspective on parenting is grounded in reality. He recognizes that parents make mistakes — to do so is an undeniable part of the human experience — but it’s in the way we navigate those mistakes that makes a difference.

“I mean, you learn from your predecessor’s mistakes, and I’ll make tons that hopefully Lea will learn from,” Cooper said. He also placed emphasis on “being rigorous with myself to grow,” explaining the importance of holding ourselves accountable to our mistakes, and being open to learning from them.

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He touched on the value of breaking generational trauma in the ways he shows up for his daughter, expressing his hope to “help unburden her with any of my bulls-–t.”

bradley cooperPhoto: Featureflash Photo Agency / Shutterstock

All parents want to provide their children with a healthier, fuller version of life than they were afforded, which, in part, requires them to work through their own traumas to be fully present for their children.


In a 2018 interview with NPR, Cooper spoke to the ways that becoming a parent changed his life for the better.

He stated, “I guess having a child, and having a family of my own — which is a miracle and something I’ve always dreamt of — has opened me up more, I guess, to the day, and to be more present.”

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In that interview, Cooper explained that even though his father is no longer on this earth, he still exists, in memory and legacy.

“My dad works his way into my life every day,” he said. He mentioned the strength of the love he received from his family, stating, “that’s the thing I want my daughter to have — I just always want her to feel loved.”


He was asked by NPR host Rachel Martin, “Are there things he did as a dad that you don’t want to repeat?” Cooper answered, “You know, I don’t know if time does this to you. But all I remember is the great stuff.”

In an interview with Oprah in 2019, Cooper spoke candidly about the spiritual connection he sensed between his father and his daughter. He stated that becoming a parent "changed everything."

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"I see my father in her quite often," he explained. "And I can't believe I'm going to admit this, but I have moments, when she was a child, and I was just in the room with her, I would say, 'Dad?' Because there's some moments where she looks just like my father."

While Cooper clearly mourns the loss of his father, he’s also able to see what his dad’s death offered him — a chance to embrace his own life in its entirety. He’s passing down the love he felt from his father to his daughter, which is a gift in itself.

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Alexandra Blogier is a writer on YourTango's news and entertainment team. She covers celebrity gossip, pop culture analysis and all things to do with the entertainment industry.