Bradley Cooper: From Rocket Raccoon to Broadway’s The Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper with Rocket Raccoon and Joseph Merrick, the real Elephant Man
Bradley Cooper with Rocket Raccoon and Joseph Merrick, the real Elephant Man, Photo: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images Entertainment/Thinkstock

Frequent Hamptons visitor Bradley Cooper will play the title role in an upcoming Broadway revival of Bernard Pomerance’s The Elephant Man. The American Hustle and Silver Linings Playbook actor will be joined by Patricia Clarkson as Mrs. Kendal, Alessandro Nivola as Dr. Fredrick Treves, Anthony Heald, Scott Lowell, Kathryn Meisle, Henry Stram, Chris Bannow, Peter Bradbury, Lucas Calhoun, Eric Clem, Amanda Lea Mason, Marguerite Stimpson and Emma Thorne. Scott Ellis directs.

The Elephant Man is based on the true story of 19th century Brit Joseph Merrick, a man born with extreme physical deformities. Renamed John Merrick for the play, the role has previously been played by David Schofield, Bruce Davison, David Bowie and Mark Hammill. The story was adapted into a film produced by Mel Brooks and directed by David Lynch in 1980 starring John Hurt and Anthony Hopkins. While the film shows the severe deformities John Merrick suffered, the play doesn’t use prosthetics, instead leaving the audience to imagine how the character looks.

During his tragic life, Merrick  became a star of the traveling freak show circuit. When the renowned Dr. Treves (Nivola) takes Merrick under his care at the London Hospital, he is shocked by the deformed man’s brilliant intelligence and unshakable faith. Soon all of Victorian high society becomes fascinated by Merrick, especially the beautiful actress Mrs. Kendal (Clarkson). But with his new life comes new complexity… and a “normal” existence begins to seem all but impossible.

Audiences, of course, should have no trouble imagining Cooper looking different, as the hunky actor voiced scrappy bounty hunter Rocket Raccoon in Marvel Studios’ summer blockbuster Guardians of the Galaxy. This most recent production of The Elephant Man begins previews at the Booth Theatre (222 West 45th Street) in Manhattan on November 7 and is set to open on December 7. For tickets and more information, visit

Elephant Man Poster

More from Our Sister Sites