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Playbook's Player

Bradley Cooper on his Eagles-eyed new film

Silver Linings Playbook, the latest film by David O. Russell (The Fighter), is about a blue-collar Philadelphia family struggling with a son's mental illness and a thankless loyalty to the Eagles. The film, which opens nationwide on Nov. 21, stars Robert De Niro, Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. SI caught up with Cooper, who grew up just outside the City of Brotherly Love, to talk films, family and Philly football.

This film is about fandom, but it's also a love story, a story about mental illness and even culminates in a dance competition. How do the Eagles tie in?

David wanted to tell a story about people who live on a real block in North Philadelphia. And sports play such a big role where I grew up that the team is almost like another family member. The Eagles play a huge role in this movie, down to the wardrobe, the days of the week, the conversations characters have. Everything revolves around the team.

How much is the team a part of your life today?

I have the NFL package on my iPad to watch Eagles games every week between takes—to the chagrin of almost everybody [on set].

In the film Jennifer Lawrence's character goes on a mind-bending encyclopedic rant about the Phillies and the Eagles. Did you help her with that?

It referred to the actual seasons for the Phillies and the Eagles in 2008, so we would have to fact-check certain days. I would say, No, no they did win that game. And, most of the time, I'd be wrong.

You went to Villanova for a year, then transferred to Georgetown. Whom do you root for in basketball?

I'll always be a Villanova fan. I was 10 in 1985 when 'Nova beat Georgetown [for the NCAA title].

Did Russell, a New York City native, consult you for the sake of Philly authenticity?

All the time, on wardrobe, dialogue. It was also nice to do a Philadelphia movie where people don't sound like they're from New York, so that was the one thing I was very adamant about. Even Bob [De Niro] toned down the New York accent.

The New York Times ran a photo of you at Fashion Week sitting next to Giants receiver Victor Cruz. Are you friends?

No. My God, he's an incredible athlete, but he's the enemy!