Bradley Cooper: "I Don't Drink or Do Drugs Anymore"

"I realized I wasn't going to live up to my potential, and that scared the hell out of me," admits The Words star, who has been clean for eight years

He may be best known for a movie about drinking, but Bradley Cooper says his real-life partying days are behind him.

"I don't drink or do drugs at all anymore," the Hangover star tells The Hollywood Reporter. "Being sober helps a great deal."

Cooper, 37, says he gave up both alcohol and drugs when he was 29, after a long period of self-destructiveness.

"I was so concerned what you thought of me, how I was coming across, how I would survive the day. I always felt like an outsider. I just lived in my head," the actor reveals. "I realized I wasn't going to live up to my potential, and that scared the hell out of me. I thought, 'Wow, I'm actually gonna ruin my life; I'm really gonna ruin it.'"

Once, under the influence, Cooper literally put himself in the hospital.

"I was at a party and deliberately bashed my head on the concrete floor -- like, 'Hey, look how tough I am!' And I came up, and blood dripped down," he recalls. "And then I did it again. I spent the night at St. Vincent's Hospital with a sock of ice, waiting for them to stitch me up."

Scary stuff. But Cooper has moved past all that, and is now considered one of Hollywood's most down-to-earth stars. As Hangover II director Todd Phillips tells the Reporter, "He is such an honest and straightforward guy; there's not an ounce of duplicitousness in him." Cooper is so honest, in fact, that he admits he may be better suited to directing than acting.

"I'm always thinking about the story and the shot and the actual doing of the scene," Cooper claims. "I don't think like an actor at all."

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