Bradley Cooper Reveals Why He Was 'Terrified' to Film His TV Debut in “Sex and the City”

During a Q&A at Santa Barbara Film Festival on Thursday, the multiple Oscar nominee looked back on his first on-screen role, in which he acted alongside Sarah Jessica Parker

<p>HBO</p> Bradley Cooper on


Bradley Cooper on 'Sex and the City'

Bradley Cooper will never forget his on-screen debut as “Jake the downtown smoker” on Sex and the City.

As the director and star of Maestro was awarded the top honor of outstanding performer of the year at the Santa Barbara Film Festival on Thursday, he also reflected on his career in a retrospective Q&A. Among the stories he told at the event sponsored by DAOU Vineyards, Cooper reminisced on his first-ever on-camera role as a fleeting flirtation for SATC heroine Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker).

The Oscar-nominated actor specifically revealed why he ended up being “terrified” that he landed the role of Jake, a sports-car-driving, downtown party boy, in a season 2 episode of the hit HBO series.

“I still remember it: I was Jake the downtown smoker,” he said.

“I auditioned for it, and at that time I didn't really realize that you could ever get the job,” recalled Cooper, 49. "Honestly, I thought that I had a job as a doorman at Morgans Hotel and then I was lucky enough to audition."

Related: All the 'Sex and the City' Celebrity Cameos You May Have Missed

<p>Tibrina Hobson/Getty</p> Bradley Cooper at the 39th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival

Tibrina Hobson/Getty

Bradley Cooper at the 39th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival

The A Star Is Born helmer explained that, because he wasn’t expecting to actually book the part, a lie he told during the audition process came back to haunt him. “I remember when I got the call to do it I was terrified. ‘What do you mean I'm actually going to have to do it?’” he joked. “I couldn't drive a stick shift, so they sent me to Models Driving School and I was just terrified.” 

He continued, “I still messed it up, so they had somebody else drive the car and I just had to ... pretend that we stopped.”

Despite being petrified at the start, the experience ended up being “really fun,” and Cooper affirmed that star “Sarah Jessica Parker was incredible.”

When it was noted that this year will see the episode's 25th anniversary, he quipped that he feels "old" and added, “S---, I've been around, dude."

Related: 'Sex and the City' Turns 25! A By-the-Numbers Blowout

<p>Tibrina Hobson/Getty</p> Bradley Cooper at the 39th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival

Tibrina Hobson/Getty

Bradley Cooper at the 39th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival

Cooper's guest star turn in “They Shoot Single People, Don't They?” happened after Parker’s character decided to let off a little steam by going out after her 30something single status was used as a cautionary tale for a New York Magazine cover story.

In her desperation to feel young and appealing, she went out to a bar downtown and met bad boy Jake, whom she described as “everything I was looking for that night: single, straight and a smoker.” The romance barely got out of first gear, though — Jake went to a bodega to pick up a pack of cigarettes and found the unflattering magazine cover, prompting Carrie to bolt.

Related: Bradley Cooper Says Seeing Vince Vaughn 'Crush It' on Wedding Crashers Set 'Changed Me Forever'

Cooper’s appearance on the show was also discussed last year by Sex and the City director and writer Michael Patrick King, who opened up about working with the star on an episode of Max’s And Just Like That...The Writers Room podcast.

“Bradley Cooper — first job — said he could drive a stick to get the job because the character drove a Karmann Ghia,” said King, 69, referencing a Volkswagen model. “Four in the morning, another Friday outside 14th Street and I said, ‘Bradley, this is where you drive, you take off.’ And he goes, ‘I can’t drive a stick.’"

The showrunner explained that they ended up tweaking the episode because of it. “And so we fixed, changed, pivoted,” he said. “Sarah Jessica’s character Carrie crawls out of the Karmann Ghia and walks herself home.”

Several years after the actor’s appearance on Sex and the City, he made his feature film debut in 2001’s Wet Hot American Summer. Throughout the 2000s, he also guest starred on shows like Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and Nip/Tuck, had a recurring role on Alias and starred on the Anthony Bourdain-inspired Kitchen Confidential as he cemented his film career.

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Sex and the City, the two big-screen follow-ups and its revival And Just Like That... can be streamed in full.

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