Whomever he played—soldier, cowboy, adventurer, lounge lizard, lover—Gary Cooper became that character. The artistry was seamless, so natural that it was impossible to tell where the man left off and the actor began. As Charles Laughton put it: ‘We act, he is.’ John Barrymore put it another way: ‘This fellow is the world’s greatest actor. He does without effort what the rest of us spend our lives trying to learn—namely to be natural.’ (John Mulholland)
“He was a poet of the real. He knew all about cows, bulls, cars and ocean tides. He had the enthusiasm of a boy. He could always tell you his first vivid impression of a thing. He had an old-fashioned politeness, but he said nothing casually.”
Clifford Odets, 1961
Fredric March, Miriam Hopkins and Gary Cooper in Design For Living, 1933.
Gary Cooper & Fay Wray
John Gallagher: Paramount teamed you with Gary Cooper in four films, Legion Of The Condemned , The First Kiss (1928), The Texan (1930) and One Sunday Afternoon (1933). Is it true that he could fall asleep between takes?
Fay Wray: Yes, he really and truly could. When I say that I have no intention of diminishing anything about Gary Cooper, but it’s true. He was extraordinary, but you couldn’t tell right away! You’d see him on the set, and then you’d look at him on film and there was this wonderful face making the slightest change of expression seem terribly important, so he had magic for the camera. He certainly was adored for many, many years. During the Watergate problem, I remember seeing his picture on the cover of Time magazine with the headline, “Where Are You Now, Gary Cooper, When We Need You?”
We needed a hero, and he was considered a hero.
Between Action and Cut (2004)