True, he wasn’t exactly an unknown. But after years of toiling away in best-buddy roles, Bradley Cooper finally ditched his That-Guy-In-Wedding-Crashers identity this summer thanks to the left-field success of The Hangover. The low-budget comedy made over $270 million and gave a well-deserved career-boost to each of its three leads: Cooper, The Office’s Ed Helms, and loose-cannon comedian Zach Galifianakis.
But of that cast, it’s Cooper who now seems best poised for a shot at the A-List. He’s already snagged tabloid covers thanks to a few photo-ready flings with high-profile actresses (much to the chagrin of EW’s own Michael Slezak). And while this weekend’s All About Steve probably won’t be a gold star on his resume, the actor’s other upcoming projects — the all-star rom-com Valentine’s Day with Julia Roberts and Anne Hathaway and a big-screen version of The A-Team, not to mention a Hangover sequel — all have huge box office potential. Now we just have to wait and see if Cooper can hang on to his Hangover momentum long enough to establish himself as a real leading man.
Of course, Cooper wasn’t the only rising star of the summer. Ryan Reynolds scored back-to-back blockbusters with Wolverine and The Proposal (not to mention a scorching hot EW cover), while Star Trek crewmembers Zachary Quinto, Chris Pine, and Zoe Saldana all look primed to live long and prosper in Hollywood. And let’s not forget District 9’s Sharlto Copley, (500) Days of Summer’s Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel, and Inglourious Basterds‘ lovely Melanie Laurent — all of whom are now on ready to join the big leagues in Hollywood.
So, PopWatchers, who’s your pick for the summer’s breakout star?