The on-screen chemistry between Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper in A Star Is Born has no doubt contributed to the pair’s rave reviews. But not everything that took place on camera was rehearsed. In fact, Cooper has confessed that one of his lines in the movie was said in the heat of the moment – and it left Gaga genuinely devastated.
For those who don’t know, Lady Gaga was born Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta in Manhattan on March 28, 1986. She later became a global superstar after the release of her 2008 album, The Fame, and its hit singles, “Poker Face” and “Just Dance.” She is now among the most commercially successful musicians of all time, having sold around 146 million singles throughout her career.
More recently, however, the pop star has added to her success through acting. In 2015, for instance, she landed a major role in American Horror Story: Hotel and went on to appear in the show’s sixth season as well. She even won a Golden Globe for her work on Hotel.
In 2016 she was then cast in A Star Is Born opposite director/star Bradley Cooper. The movie is a remake of films of the same name from 1937, 1954 and 1976. Interestingly, Judy Garland starred in the 1937 version, while Barbra Streisand made the 1976 adaptation her own. And suffice to say that Gaga and Cooper were not the first choices for their respective parts in this latest retelling.
In fact, Beyoncé was originally tipped for the Gaga role, with Clint Eastwood set to direct. Actors initially considered for the male lead also included Tom Cruise, Leonardo DiCaprio, Johnny Depp, Christian Bale and Will Smith. Cooper eventually landed the part, however, and made the film his directorial debut. Lady Gaga then joined the cast.
Cooper, Eric Roth and Will Fetters wrote the script, and the movie follows aspiring musician Ally (played by Gaga) as she meets country star Jackson Maine (Cooper). Jackson then helps turn Ally into a successful singer-songwriter, and the two form a romantic relationship. However, the couple soon struggle as Ally’s star rises and Jackson’s battle with addiction worsens.
A Star Is Born was released in October 2018. It quickly became a hit at the box office, and it has already earned more than $263 million worldwide. The movie has also received positive reviews from critics, as the following excerpt demonstrates.
“Cooper and Lady Gaga are dynamite together,” wrote Alonso Duralde, a reviewer for The Wrap. “This is a story that lives and dies by the central relationship and the instant chemistry that must blossom between them, and these two have it in spades.”
Cooper actually revealed to Entertainment Weekly that the connection between himself and Gaga was apparent “from the moment” they met. “She knows everything about me – everything,” the Silver Linings Playbook star told the magazine. “There is not one thing she doesn’t know, and I believe [it’s] the same for me.”
And when it came to making the movie, the 43-year-old actor and director seemingly sought to use their bond to his advantage. In one particular scene, for instance, the characters are having an argument after Cooper’s character, Jackson, has been drinking. In the heat of the moment, Jackson calls Gaga’s Ally “ugly” – a line which had not been written into the script.
Gaga herself has admitted that, like her character, she has insecurities surrounding her looks. So her pained reaction captured in that scene is, in fact, genuine. “We left a space for there to be both love and hurt at the same time,” the 32-year-old told The Independent in October 2018.
Cooper spoke to News.com.au about the impact of that moment. “I don’t think she was aware of the last thing that Jack says to her,” he recalled. “I remember we had done two takes, and I felt very good about the scene, but, like most of the days, I just felt like we have to mine everything possible, so we just did one more.”
“Jack was a little bit darker, and it was a hard scene, but her reaction was so perfect,” Cooper continued. He added that he hadn’t done it to deliberately crush Gaga’s feelings, though. “That wasn’t an actor trying to get something out of another actor,” he said. “That was two characters.”
Earlier in the film, after all, Ally had told Jackson that she had a lack of confidence about her appearance. As Cooper explained to News.com.au, “What Jackson does to her in that moment is [to] go to the most vulnerable place. That’s what she shared with him early on… so it’s to story.”
Cooper explained that his real-life closeness to Gaga allowed them to take the scene to that next level. “I think because we both felt so safe together acting… that we were completely invested in telling the story together, all was safe,” he said. “It doesn’t mean that things weren’t hard, but it never felt like a violation or anything like that.”
Of all the dramatic scenes in the film, Cooper confessed to that particular one being the most difficult to shoot. “[To] go to that place, that was hard,” he told News.com.au. And it was also tough on Gaga, who relates to Ally when it comes to her self-doubt about how she looks.
“When my character talks about how ugly she feels – that was real,” Gaga told the LA Times. “I’m so insecure. I like to preach, but I don’t always practice what I preach.” Gaga has even revealed that at the beginning of her career, people in the music industry encouraged her to give her songs to other artists because she didn’t have the right look herself.
“I was not the prettiest girl in the room. I was a little weird, and I liked being weird,” she told Entertainment Weekly. “I didn’t like to be sexual in a way that other pop stars or pop groups were. I was my own thing. It’s heartbreaking because you feel like, ‘Why am I not enough?’”
Yet in spite of her insecurities, Lady Gaga has had a hugely successful career in music and now in acting. Critics and audiences have praised her for her performance in A Star Is Born, and the film continues to do well at the box office. Some have even tipped her to go on to win an Oscar.
Cooper also said that everything fell into place for the film when Gaga signed on to play Ally. “All of a sudden, this story, this character started to come to life,” he told News.com.au. “This movie that you saw, there’s no version of this without her.”