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'I watched him become a real musician': Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga unite for A Star Is Born

The film has a 95% rating on review-aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes.

Source: Warner Bros. UK/YouTube

NOTHING QUITE ELEVATES the magic of love like the power of music. Multiply that by the allure of fame and you have, well a lot of unforgettable music, along with some of the best love stories of all time.

And new film that has just hit Irish cinemas celebrates our obsession with these love stories. Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut A Star Is Born, which stars both Cooper and Lady Gaga, has gathered a score of 95% on film-rating site Rotten Tomatoes and a five-star review by Empire.

It sees four-time Oscar nominee Cooper and fellow Oscar nominee Lady Gaga play Jack and Ally, two artists uniting both on and off stage, whose relationship struggles to survive in Gaga’s first leading role in a major motion picture.

When seasoned musician Jackson Maine discovers and falls in love with struggling artist Ally, she has long since given up on her dream to become a successful singer, but Jackson can see her talent immediately. Its screenplay was written by Cooper and Eric Roth, who won an Oscar for his screenplay for Forrest Gump. 

You’ll also spot Dave Chappelle (Undercover Brother), Andrew Dice Clay (Blue Jasmine), Sam Elliott (The Big Lebowski) in the supporting cast. And keep an ear out for a new Mark Ronson-penned track on the soundtrack which was recorded live during filming and features songs that were co-written by Gaga and Cooper. 

Directorial debuts…

cooper Source: YouTube

For Cooper, he wanted to direct for a long time but waited to pick the right film:

I always wanted to tell a love story, because it feels like something everybody can relate to – the love, the loss of it, the high of it. It’s the thing that makes you feel most alive.

The film takes the two A-listers to shoot everywhere from Coachella (Lady Gaga just happened to be headlining) to Saturday Night Live, and the pair made a pact early on that each performance would be live – no lip-syncing or backing track, as Cooper explains: “There’s something about singing that’s so honest… You can’t hide at all.”

Cooper spent five days a week for six months learning how to sing and the film took three years to complete. It was a real culmination of the two sharing their awe-worthy talents, as Gaga explains:

The very first thing we said was ‘Okay, now you’re a musician and I’m an actress. We’re making that exchange. [...] As we worked on creating the songs, I watched him become a real musician.

During a particularly gruelling scene to film, Gaga even surprised Cooper with roses, left in the passenger seat of the truck that he had to get into for the scene, showing her support for him even when she wasn’t on screen.

Musical magic…

crew Source: YouTube

To truly get into character, Cooper worked with dialect coach Tim Monich (who he also collaborated with on American Sniper) to perfect Jack’s voice, noticeably lower than his own. “We spent months on Jack’s voice, and I think I lowered my range an octave”.

In fact, it was their first meeting onscreen that inspired Gaga to write the song I Don’t Know What Love Is, using Ally’s notebook to write it in, with help from Willie Nelson’s son Lukas. “I was so overcome with emotion from shooting that scene”, she explains.

Cooper met Dave Chappelle when he came to see him in a play he was doing in London: “We wound up spending the whole night talking. [...] I thought, ‘He’s gotta play Jackson’s old musician friend.” It culminated in one of Cooper’s favourite scenes in the movie. 

It wasn’t the only friend they made along the way – the two performed in between Willie Nelson’s set and as support for Kris Kristofferson in England. It was a dream come true for Cooper: “I got to say, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, Mr Kris Kristofferson.’ Then he walked out. I’ll never forget that.’” 

At other venues in California like The Greek Theatre, the Regent Theater and The Forum, the crew decided that instead of bringing in thousands of extras, they’d fill seats with Lady Gaga’s massive fanbase – ‘Little Monsters’, with each ticket sold benefitting her foundation, Born This Way. She even performed two hit songs to thank them.

And for Cooper, his first experience directing been a whirlwind:

One thing I’ve learned is that when you’re creating any kind of art, if you’re in the moment, you trust your instincts but can be flexible, too, you can make something that might shift someone’s way of looking at their world a little bit.

Have a soft spot for when fate and fame collide? Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper star in the romantic drama When A Star Is Born, which is Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut. The turbulent love story hits cinemas on October 3rd – find out more about their love story and watch exclusive video content here

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Warner Bros.

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