NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It’s a Broadway role that Bradley Cooper says intrigued him since he was a child, after seeing the 1980 film “The Elephant Man.”

It’s based on the true story of a severely disformed British man, who lived in the late 1800s and was a freak show attraction until he was rescued by a London doctor.

Cooper’s portrayal of the disfigured, curious and sensitive John Merrick in “The Elephant Man” has earned the actor his first Tony Award nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role.

PHOTOS: 2015 Tony Award Nominees 

Cooper told CBSNewYork’s Dana Tyler he feels very grateful to be nominated and pleased his co-stars, Patricia Clarkson (best actress in a featured role) and Alessandro Nivola (best actor in a featured role), are nominated, too.

He says it’s the culmination of first trying the play in Williamstown, Massachusetts.

“It was a sort of pipe dream when we took it to Williamstown two years ago,” Cooper said. “It was an idea that we had to do it, and just thought maybe we’ll fall on our face but love the story so much.

“And then to be at the Booth Theatre on Broadway and then to be recognized by the Tonys, it’s crazy.”

The play, which ended its run in February, is nominated for best revival.

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