Bradley Cooper Makes Cameo in 'Abbott Elementary' Post-Oscars Episode, Sheryl Lee Ralph Reacts (Exclusive)

The Emmy winner shared a behind-the-scenes tidbit about Cooper's appearance on Sunday night's episode.

Bradley Cooper may not have gone home with an award during Sunday night's 96th Academy Awards, but he won the hearts of many with his surprise cameo on Abbott Elementary's post-Oscars episode!

Cooper, whose passion project Maestro was nominated for seven Academy Awards but won none, stopped by the ABC sitcom to play himself in the cold open of the comedy series' episode, which aired directly after the ceremony's telecast. In the episode's opening moments, the Oscar nominee shows up at the titular school as the guest of Khalil, a second-grader who "brought a famous person" in for show-and-tell. 

"Well, whenever I'm in Philly, you know the deli across the street that's my first stop," Cooper, who is a Philadelphia native, shares in the episode. "My dad used to always say to me, 'They're the best hoagies in the city.'"

Cooper says it was no problem to drop by, explaining, "When my friend here asked me to come by, I had a minute, so I thought, what the heck?"


Khalil adds that he knew the actor was the right choice for show-and-tell because "everyone wanted to take a picture with him, so I figured he was famous." 

Although Melissa Schemmenti (Lisa Ann Walter) is gobsmacked at the star's appearance, it's clear the students aren't exactly sure who Cooper is as they fail to recognize him -- which tracks, since Cooper rarely stars in kid-friendly films.

But even some of the teachers have trouble remembering the actor's many acting credits.

Another student then pressed the Academy Award nominee, asking, "If you're famous, are you in Spider-Man?"

"Oh, I just loved you in The Holdovers. It was just so heartwarming," Barbara (Sheryl Lee Ralph) tells Cooper, most likely mistaking him for Paul Giamatti, who was also up for Best Actor for that movie this year. "It's The Hangover and no it's not," Gregory (Tyler James Williams) says, correcting her about Cooper's star-making hit, released 15 years ago.

"Guys, he's literally in a critically acclaimed film right now," Janine (Quinta Brunson) says, only for Melissa to refer to the big winner on Oscars night: "Mhm, Oppenheimer," she replies.

"Is that the one about Napoleon?" asks Mr. Johnson (William Stanford Davis).


Cooper then interjects, telling the Abbott crew, "I wasn't in Oppenheimer," he tells them, only for Ava (Janelle James) to ask, "Are you sure? Everybody was in Oppenheimer."

The kids also joined in on the fun: "If you're famous, are you in 'Spider-Man'?" one student asks, to which Cooper concedes that he wasn't in that Marvel movie, but he was in Guardians of the Galaxy. He even puts on his Rocket Racoon voice, to the delight of the class. 

Another student points out, "Shouldn't your teeth be whiter?" Cooper replies, "They should, but I can't whiten them because they're too sensitive."

The brief cameo is adorably self-deprecating for the Maestro star, and, according to Ralph, it was beautifully constructed thanks to Abbott Elementary's editing department. 

"First of all, our editing department is amazing. Because I was nowhere near that scene when they shot it and the way they put it all together, no one could have told me that I was not there with them with Bradley Cooper," Ralph told ET while chatting on the red carpet at the 2024 Vanity Fair Oscars after-party on Sunday night. 

Ralph explains that although she knew Cooper was going to make a cameo in the episode, she couldn't be on set for the scene because she was shooting something else. But the two were able to meet at the SAG Awards and the Dreamgirls star has dubbed him "an honorary" Abbott cast member.


Cooper's brief appearance is one of the many in store for Abbott fans. When ET spoke with the cast ahead of the season 3 premiere, Brunson said she felt like the cast and crew "earned the right to take some big swings" in the new season, adding that she went into production with the goal of wanting to ensure that "people [don't] get too comfortable."

After season 2 featured appearances by Orlando Jones as Gregory's dad and Taraji P. Henson and The Bear's Ayo Edebiri as Janine's mother and sister, respectively, season 3 welcomed The Other Two and Scream VI star Josh SegarraHacks alum Kimia Behpoornia and Never Have I Ever's Benjamin Norris in recurring roles. Segarra portrays Manny, Behpoornia portrays Emily and Norris plays Simon -- three "good-natured" school district representatives who take pride in their jobs and strive to freshen up the old ways of schooling. 

Considering the number of requests that Brunson admitted to getting from celebrities wanting to guest star on the series, the additions are a conservative number compared to what she could include.

Of the many requests to guest star, Brunson said, "I think it's so nice when people look at it as an opportunity to be in something that their kids can watch also, because a lot of actors who are part of more dramatic projects or things that are a little PG-13 to rated R, Abbott is something that their kids can see them in."

Luckily, anyone who couldn't make an appearance in season 3 has another chance to make their case since the series has already been renewed for season 4.

Abbott Elementary airs Wednesdays on ABC at 9 p.m. EST.