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In 1999, when he was 23, he worked as a doorman on the graveyard shift at the fashionable Morgan Hotel in New York City.
“One of the guys I took to their rooms was Leonardo DiCaprio,” fresh off his superstar turn in “Titanic,” Cooper said.
“I remember riding down on the elevator after I showed him and about seven of his friends their room. I was wearing the uniform, not a hip look. I remembered reading recently that he and I were exactly the same age. I went down in the elevator thinking I had been four feet from the guy and we couldn’t be in two more different worlds. He was my age and he had accomplished so much.”
Flash forward: Now DiCaprio and Cooper are good friends, attending last year’s Super Bowl together. “It’s a crazy business,” Cooper said.
It sure is. Next year Cooper will become a figure in the Marvel superhero universe, but with a lunatic twist.
In “Guardians of the Galaxy,” he plays pint-size Rocket Raccoon, a gunslinging, genetically manipulated critter with an advanced intellect and humanoid properties. He’s working with director James Gunn to perfect the militant little furball’s sound. (A tough Cockney accent is under consideration.) Cooper is also working out the digitally rendered creature’s body language, acting out his scenes in a bodysuit as motion-capture cameras record his performance.
“We’re right in the middle of it, but I can say he’s a pretty volatile guy.” Playing a wisecracking extraterrestrial ringtail might seem like a pretty big stretch, but so far underestimating Cooper has been a bad bet.
Colin Covert • 612-673-7186