Bradley Cooper 'Not Gonna Forget' Will Smith Calling Him 'Beautiful' at National Board of Review Gala

"I can't even concentrate, he's so beautiful," Will Smith joked about Bradley Cooper

Bradley Cooper has a secret admirer — Will Smith!

At the 2022 National Board of Review gala, held at New York City's Cipriani 42nd Street on Tuesday, Smith was honored with the best actor award for King Richard. Trevor Noah presented the award to Smith, praising him for helping people "feel" over the course of his career.

In his acceptance speech, Smith, 53, told the crowd, "We all have that thing in us. We have a dream and it seems crazy, the thing that you want to do."

Signaling Cooper, 47, seated at a table in the audience, Smith then joked, "I look at Bradley Cooper. I've seen pictures of him when he was young — he didn't look like this! He grew into that. He let the dream blossom inside of him. I can't even concentrate, he's so beautiful."

bradley cooper
Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for National Board of Review

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When Cooper took the podium later in the ceremony to present an award to his Licorice Pizza costars Alana Haim and Cooper Hoffman, he responded to Smith's compliments with a smile: "I'm not gonna forget that, Will."

will smith
Will Smith. Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for National Board of Review

On the red carpet prior to the event, Smith told PEOPLE what has been the biggest surprise for him about this awards season.

"I guess the biggest surprise so far for me with this film is how unanimous the reaction is to the film," he said. "I've made 30 years' worth of movies and there's never been this kind of blanket agreement that it's a good movie. I've made things that, I would read opposing reviews and I'm like, 'Did they even look at the same movie?' you know, with Ali and with The Pursuit of Happyness. Just how many people agree that it's a good movie is a big surprise for me."

Smith is nominated for Best Actor at the upcoming 94th Academy Awards. He's already won a SAG Award, BAFTA and Critics Choice Award for his performance.

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