In 1992, he covered famine in Somalia. In 1993, Sarajevo. In 1994, he crossed a bridge into Rwanda. When he looked down, he saw bodies caught on the rocks, their arms flailing in the water. It was at the edges of the world, in places of extreme suffering, that he discovered he could feel again, he said.
When he was 10 and his mother came to tell him that his father had died of a heart attack, he remembers crying — a little, he said. And then almost never again.
He pulled inward, learning to control his emotions, he said. Among his earliest impulses was the desire to be fully independent. One of his first appearances in the pages of this newspaper was in a story about a lemonade stand he helped run. He got his own bank account, and after his father’s death, he began working as a child model for Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren.
He retreated even further after his brother’s death, when Mr. Cooper was 21.
Tracing two lines in the air, he said: “I sort of live in this middle ground of no high highs and no low lows.”
He continued: “The only time I felt stuff is when things were so extreme that you couldn’t help but feel — where it was so overwhelming, terrifying, tragic that through, like, osmosis, it overcame all of the sort of things I had worked up to prevent myself from feeling,”
But it was a fleeting solution. “I would come back home,” he said, “and I just felt dead.”
The death of his mother and the subsequent birth of his sons — who are now 3 and almost 2 — made him take stock. (Mr. Cooper is co-parenting his children with his former partner, Benjamin Maisani, 50, an entrepreneur and nightclub owner.) He described the sadness that he used to see in his mother’s eyes. He doesn’t want his sons to see that in him.