Eighties TV favourite The A-Team has been updated and hits cinema screens this month with an all new cast. Bradley Cooper talks about his role as Templeton ‘Faceman’ Peck
Cue music. In 2010 a team of Hollywood executives were accused of not having enough original ideas. These men promptly greenlit sequels, adaptations of video games and remakes of popular TV series to rake in the cash. Today, still in demand by eager moviegoers, they add one more to the list. If you have money to spend, and if there are no other movies worth seeing, then maybe you could watch The A-Team. But is it something you’ll actually want to see? Big-screen remakes of TV shows can be hit and miss. For every Mission: Impossible franchise, there is a Charlie’s Angels or a Brady Bunch lurking in the background.
And with The A-Team, you are talking about roles the actors made very much there own (can anyone really replace Mr T?). But director Joe Carnahan has certainly made a bold attempt, lining up Liam Neeson to play John ‘Hannibal’ Smith, District 9’s Sharlto Copley as ‘Howling Mad’ Murdock, Bradley Cooper as ‘Faceman’ Peck and ex-UFC cagefighter Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson as BA Baracus. Can the plan really come together and make a huge box office hit? We caught up with Bradley Cooper to find out.
OK, the big question: did you do this for the money or were you a big fan of the original TV show? Yeah, I was a fan of it for sure.
Was Face your favourite character? No, it was Murdock.
So when you were approached to play Templeton Peck, what did you think? Well, no-one approached me. I approached them saying I wanted to do it.
Why did you do that? Well, first of all, I love the genre, and I always thought that if I had any chance of making it in this business, it was with something action oriented. I heard that Joe Carnahan had become attached to direct a movie of The A-Team, and then my agent figured out a way for me to meet him. Right away we just sort of connected, and then he gave me the script that night. I read it, and I texted him the next day and said, ‘What do I do to get this movie?’ I loved Face in the script. I just thought that I could bring stuff to it that wasn’t there yet, and then he fought for me to get it and I got it.
Did you make your own stunts in the movie? There were two other stunt guys; they did a lot of stunts. But at the same time I got to do a tremendous amount, so I was happy.
What was the most challenging thing you had to do? There was one scene – I’m underneath an 18-wheeler going about 45mph on a dirt, desert road, and all I had was this little makeshift roller skate that my character made; and I was going underneath like that and it was obviously really dangerous but fantastic.
Did you hurt yourself? I did, I tore my hamstring.
Doing that stunt? No, running [laughs]. It was absolutely the most innocuous thing in the world. We hear you had to get in shape for the role too. I did. Two months prior to filming I started on this 2,000 calorie-a-day regime, and then I had no sugar, no salt, no flour, nothing, and I had to eat five meals a day. Plus I had this wonderful trainer, Ashley Conrad. I trained about two hours every day. And the training was intense. That was it, and eight hours of sleep a night is very important, I learned. That’s when a lot of your muscles rebuild, when you’re sleeping. How about that?
One of the things everyone remembers from the TV show is that nobody ever got killed, even with all the gun battles. Is the movie more bloodthirsty? No, there’s not that much blood. But I think people who liked the show will like this. All I know is that the opening of the movie, when you meet these four guys, to me, is so kick ass. I’m not kidding. The way they introduce BA, it’s just fantastic. So, I think if you were a fan of the show, I can’t imagine that you wouldn’t go crazy.
Can you talk about the storyline of the film? Basically, it’s sort of an origin movie, because you learn how the A-Team came to be. They’re still working for the military in this movie. And with my character, there’s an old flame that comes back into his life, played by Jessica Biel, and I’m sort of a right-hand man to Hannibal in certain ways – they sort of have a combative relationship at times in terms of how they perceive the best way to do various missions.
Did you watch the original TV show and take anything from that? You know, I didn’t. I really focused on the character that was in the script, because I thought that’s who I’m playing. I’m not doing anything other than the movie that’s in front of me. So, if Joe asked me to do something, I would do it. So with the Face that I’m playing, hopefully it won’t feel like a betrayal to the fans at any point. But it certainly is Joe Carnahan’s movie.
Are you concerned about the fans of the show? I’m not, but maybe I’m completely in denial on the hate that’s coming. The truth is, not that I don’t care, but my job is to serve the director. Do you know what I mean? And if you try to serve too many masters, you’re really screwed.
Is it right to make movies that entertain with war? I think the best way to handle it is, for me, to make it simple. I’m an actor, and if it’s a compelling movie and I like the director, then I’m going to do it. How it’s perceived or how it’s judged is completely out of my control. So, to even try to answer that question with any sort of authority, I’m not sure I can.
Do you see The A-Team as the beginning of a sequence of movies? If it’s successful. Well, we’re contracted to do another one. Obviously, if no one sees it, there won’t be another one. The A-Team is released in cinemas this month.
Where are they now?
What’s happened to the original A-Team in the last 23 years.
George Peppard (Hannibal) When The A-Team finished in 1987, Peppard went back to movies, although nothing as credible as his role in 1961’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s; this was pure straight-to-video fodder. He completed a TV pilot (a spinoff of law drama Matlock) just before his death in 1994.
Dirk Benedict (Face) Benedict drifted through forgettable TV and movie appearances after The A-Team, but his popularity was revived slightly in 2007 with a spot on the UK’s Celebrity Big Brother. He also has a cameo in the new A-Team film.
Dwight Schultz (Murdock) Schultz will be familiar to Star Trek fans, who will remember his recurring role in The Next Generation and Voyager TV series, and the First Contact movie. He too has a cameo in the new film.
Mr T (BA Baracus) Still sporting the same haircut, Mr T has made many cameo appearances in TV shows and films over the years, and in 2006 made a pilot for a reality show called I Pity the Fool. Was offered a cameo in the new film, but refused.