A Director is Born: Bradley Cooper Soars as He Takes the Helm
Four-time Oscar nominee Bradley Cooper makes his directorial debut with Warner Bros. Pictures’ A Star Is Born.
In this new take on the iconic love story, Cooper and Lady Gaga fuse their considerable talents to depict the raw and passionate tale of Jack and Ally, two artistic souls coming together, on stage and in life. Theirs is a complex journey through the beauty and the heartbreak of a relationship struggling to survive.
Cooper portrays seasoned musician Jackson Maine, who discovers and falls in love with struggling artist Ally. She has given up on her dream to become a successful singer, until she meets Jack, who immediately sees her natural talent.
“I never thought, ‘How do I make it original?’ I just knew I had to make it authentic to tell the story I wanted to tell,” says Cooper who, in addition to directing and co-writing the screenplay, and starring as Jackson Maine, produced the film. He also co-wrote some of the music, which he performed alongside Lady Gaga, who co-wrote much of it as well.
Though she loved his take on the story, Gaga—as experienced a performer as they come—was nervous to take on the role of Ally in her first feature film, but nevertheless thrilled to do so with Cooper at the helm and by her side. “I had to get past the nerves, but I was so excited,” she relates, “because, in my opinion, when somebody has talent inside them, brewing for years, ready to move into another medium and it finally happens…it’s like a huge explosion, an opus. He was meant to direct, and I just got lucky enough to be in his first film.”
Cooper states, “She’d done incredible work as an actress, but to make this huge transition… It felt like we were at the same point individually in our work, and we both needed the same thing from each other, essentially, in order to jump the tracks to this other place.”
Still, it’s no easy feat, even for such accomplished individuals. As seasoned singer/songwriter Jack tells Ally when they first meet, “Talent comes from everywhere, but having something to say and a way to say it so that people listen to it, that’s a whole other bag. And unless you get out there and you try to do it, you’ll never know. That’s just the truth.”
In the film, Maine’s philosophy is intended to encourage the skittish ingenue to step into the spotlight, figuratively and literally. It could also be Cooper subtly revealing through his character why this story motivated him to finally test his own wings behind the scenes.
“I’ve always known that I wanted to direct, but I also knew that I needed to have a point of view, to know why I was doing it, otherwise there was no reason to,” he says. “And 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 the most alive.
“Coupled with that is music—not just music, but singing,” he continues. In fact, Cooper and Gaga made a pact early on to record all their performances in the film live—no lip-syncing to a track. “There’s something about singing that’s so honest…you can’t hide at all. I thought that those two things could be put together in a way that maybe I’d find my point of view.”
“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,” Cooper reflects. “And when your whole crew goes there with you? That’s a wonderful feeling. That everybody trusted my vision was exhilarating and, I think, gave me the confidence to keep at that daunting task every day.
“This has been a three-year journey and the experience has been amazing, and if I’m lucky enough that anybody allows me to do it again, yeah, I absolutely would,” Cooper continues, adding, “There’s a line in the film that Jack says to Ally, ‘If there’s one reason we’re supposed to be here, it’s to say something so people want to hear it.’ I hope that’s what we’ve done.”
In Philippine cinemas October 10, A Star is Born is distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.