'I'm Not Sure I'd Be Alive': How Fatherhood Changed Bradley Cooper

The 'Maestro' star shares 6-year-old daughter Lea with ex Irina Shayk.

Bradley Cooper is "not sure" if he would be alive if he hadn't become a father in 2017. The Maestro star, 49, spoke candidly about how welcoming daughter Lea with ex-girlfriend Irina Shayk affected his life and sobriety journey of the past two decades while on Dax Shepard's Armchair Expert podcast.

"Honestly, I'm not sure I'd be alive if I wasn't a dad — I don't know," Cooper admitted. "I just needed someone to say, 'We're gonna drop this massive anchor,' and I'm like, 'Why? We're speeding. We just got an upgrade on the boat, and I know where the wind is coming in.' And they're like, 'No, there's a tsunami coming, and you need an anchor, and we're gonna drop it. This is going to dictate everything you do from now on." 

He continued, "Your DNA is going to tell you there's something more important than you."

When it comes to raising his daughter, now 6, Cooper said he often thinks about how their relationship "impacts her growth and the journey she's gonna be on," adding of his own experience growing up around alcoholism, "I'm a father [seeking to do] the least amount of damage I can do to my daughter. To have a child not grow up in that way."

"I want her to have, as much as she can, a foundation that's like 25 feet thick, cement, that she can walk on this earth with. That's the goal," he noted, adding, "I can just feel the safety that she feels. It's so tangible; it's palpable. That is so fulfilling."

Lea recently made her film debut in her father's Netflix film, in which he plays Leonard Bernstein, and the two are very close, but the devoted father admitted it took him a while to really come into his own as a dad. "The first eight months, I was like, 'I don't even know if I really love the kid, it's dope. It's cool,'" he joked. "And then all of a sudden it's like no question."

Maestro earned Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Screenplay in addition to Best Makeup, Best Sound and Best Cinematography. Cooper is up for Best Actor alongside Paul Giamatti (The Holdovers),  Cillian Murphy (Oppenheimer), Jeffrey Wright (American Fiction) and Colman Domingo (Rustin).