It’s clear from watching the new version of A Star Is Born that director and leading man Bradley Cooper was a little bit in love with his star Lady Gaga.
‘No, that’s not right,’ he contradicted me.
I was about to respond, but Cooper wasn’t finished. ‘We fell madly in love. Both of us,’ he said, matter of factly.
The romance was consummated in front of cameras and it’s there for all to see in the garlanded picture, which had its London premiere last night and goes on general release on Wednesday (October 3).
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Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga are starring together in the new A Star is Born film due out on Wednesday
‘It’s what you hope happens, professionally. That you can just totally go into that place without acting and be as open as you can,’ the 43-year-old, Oscar-nominated actor told me during an interview this week at the Ham Yard Hotel in central London.
I know Bradley’s love was reciprocated, because Lady G told me in Toronto that the film got made because of ‘love, work and dedication’, adding that she couldn’t help ‘falling for my director’.
‘I was in his hands, and trusted him completely,’ she said.
When news started emerging three years ago that Cooper, who starred in Silver Linings Playbook, American Sniper and the Hangover movies â€” not to mention the play Elephant Man on Broadway and in the West End â€” wanted to remake A Star Is Born there was widespread derision.
There had already been three iterations of the tale about a famous male entertainer falling for an ingenue â€” played in the past by Janet Gaynor (in 1937); Judy Garland (opposite James Mason in 1954); and Barbra Streisand (with Kris Kristofferson in 1976).
Cooper admitted that he read one of those articles. ‘It was horrible and almost made me think I shouldn’t do it,’ he said.
But the film works, magnificently.
Bradley Cooper speaks to Baz Bamigboye about his new film. He tells Bamigboye how he fell ‘madly in love’ with Lady Gaga during filming
The opening credit scene shows Ally (Gaga) exiting her place of employment to the underlying strains of Somewhere Over The Rainbow (an homage to the 1954 film) and waving her arms as the title is spelled out on screen.
What follows is an out-and-out love story and you fully believe the moment Cooper’s singer, Jackson Maine, loses his heart to Ally, a woman struggling to be heard.
Ally writes her own songs but is stuck in a dead-end job at a restaurant. She gigs at a drag club, where Maine hears her singing La Vie en Rose and is captivated.
That song’s significant because the first time Cooper heard Lady G sing was when he attended a private cancer charity event (with his mother) at the Los Angeles home of IT entrepreneur Sean Parker. ‘She did La Vie en Rose and she was a revelation.’
He immediately asked her agent if she’d be interested in discussing A Star Is Born and the response was positive.
‘She hadn’t been on my radar and I was a little bit at sea with finding someone,’ he said.
‘I went to her house. It’s daunting to meet Lady Gaga but she put me at ease. She introduced herself as Stefani (her real first name) and in the back of my mind I’m thinking: ‘If I can just capture this, along with that voice, then we’re going to be OK.’
The result is way beyond OK. I’ve seen the film three times over the last couple of months and it’s easy to see why both stars have legions of fans (of both sexes).
They are dynamite together and she’s giving one of the best performances of the year. A movie star has very much been born.
But Cooper said he had to argue his case to cast her. And he understood some of the negative vibes about the project.
‘I’m a first-time director wanting to make the fourth remake of a movie â€” and my star’s never made a movie before.’
During those three years Cooper went on the road meeting musicians, trying to get a sense of who Jackson Maine the rock star would be.
Once Lady G was on board, she helped him with his singing and guitar playing. He co-wrote several songs in the film â€” which makes him the leading man, director, co -screenwriter, singer and song writer (one of the most audacious feats in recent Hollywood history).
Cooper’s Jackson Maine comes across as a gentle soul, but his boozing and drug taking is out of control. He also has tinnitus, which doesn’t help.
His character’s not jealous of Ally’s success. Rather, he wants to her to succeed with integrity, without having to sell out.
One moving scene shows her winning an award â€” but he can’t hear what she’s saying. Thinking she’s summoning him up on stage, he goes to join her, and is humiliated.
A Star Is Born is going to be huge at the box office; and one of the big ten contenders going full swing into award season.
No wonder Cooper’s blue eyes were sparkling despite an 11-hour flight through the night on a private jet from LA, where he’d attended the U.S. gala.
To think that a few years ago he almost quit the business. Now he’s making movies on both sides of the camera, which was long his aim.
And he’s the man who put Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta front and centre on the cinema screen.Â