Cooper, 43, cast his dog Charlie to play the dog his character Jackson Maine has with Ally (Lady Gaga).
PETA awarded the first-time director its Compassion in Film Award for casting Charlie rather than using a dog from one of Hollywood’s animal exhibitors.
“Bradley Cooper’s happy, adorable, and much-loved dog steals the spotlight — and viewers’ hearts — in this film because it’s clear that e loved being with his real-life ‘dad,’” PETA Senior Vice President Lisa Lange said in an announcement.
“PETA has witnessed so much abuse and neglect of dogs, both on and off set, that we’re hoping Cooper’s kind decision sets a precedent for all Hollywood to follow,” she added.
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Cooper opened up about Charlie during an interview with PEOPLE at the Los Angeles premiere of the film last week.
“There was no nepotism — I wanted this relationship with the dog,” he said. “[Jackson and Ally] don’t have a child together but they have a dog together, and I wanted it to be part of their story. I love dogs.”
Cooper previously had two rescue dogs, German shorthaired pointer Samson and Chow Retriever mix Charlotte, whom he once called “his kids.” Charlie holds a special place in his heart though, as he’s named for Cooper’s late father. “That meant a lot for him to be in the film,” Cooper added.
The actor joked that since making his big break, Charlie “has an agent. I don’t talk to him much anymore. He doesn’t return my calls. He always walks away from me unless I have food.”