'This entire experience was life-changing': Lady Gaga on making A Star is Born
'I've never been more fulfilled than in this process,' Bradley Cooper says of directorial debut
When Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga started work on A Star is Born, they made a deal and shook hands on it.
"He said to me: 'You are an actress' and I said to him 'You are a musician.' We made that exchange," the pop singer recounted about her Oscar-nominated co-star.
The film, screening at the Toronto International Film Festival, marks Lady Gaga's first time playing a leading role. Cooper co-stars, playing a fading singer.
"I don't know that I've ever had a closer artistic friendship with someone as I do with Bradley," multiple Grammy-winner Gaga declared in Toronto on Sunday, during a TIFF press conference for the film.
"This entire experience was life-changing. I have never had an artistic experience like this before."
In the following video, Lady Gaga explains how some leftover pasta and a CCR duet helped ignite her collaboration with Bradley Cooper for A Star is Born.
Music is not simply the backdrop to A Star is Born — it's another character in the bittersweet romance, said Cooper, who is receiving widespread accolades and early Oscar buzz for the drama.
It's his directorial debut and Hollywood's third remake of the tale about a fading superstar being eclipsed by his up-and-coming protégé.
Cooper, an avid music fan and Metallica devotee who spent years developing the film, performs his own vocals and learned guitar and piano for A Star is Born. Along with co-writing the script, he also helped write some of the movie's "arsenal of music."
In fact, just 10 minutes after Cooper met Gaga, they were singing together, he recalled.
While the public might be familiar with her onstage persona, Cooper singled out Gaga's "masterful ability to cultivate talent" behind the scenes and said she gave him the confidence to sing for himself.
It's one thing to sing in the shower. It's another thing to sing in front of 20,000 people.- Bradley Cooper
Gaga — referred to by her real name Stefani (Germanotta) by her co-stars — also created "harmony" with all of the other songwriters who wrote for the movie, including Jason Isbell, Mark Ronson and Lukas Nelson. She kept the bar high, music-wise, Cooper said.
"It all had to be up to her level... Stefani was very adamant about it," he explained, in discussing A Star is Born's live performances.
"It's one thing to sing in the shower. It's another thing to sing in front of 20,000 people."
The electrifying concert scenes were ultimately shot onstage at major music festivals such as Coachella, Stagecoach and Glastonbury, Cooper said, with artists such as Gaga herself, Jamey Johnson, Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson (star of the 1976 version of A Star is Born) giving some of their set time to the movie shoot.
'Actors having a jam session'
Gaga and the rest of the cast — including Sam Elliott, Dave Chappelle and Anthony Ramos — had nothing but praise for the collegial environment Cooper created on-set as a director and were unanimous about their trust in him.
"It almost felt like a jam section. It was actors having a jam session. There was a rhythm. It was what you call vibes. There were these palpable vibes," Chappelle said.
"Everyone really liked each other — in the script they are supposed to like each other — but it became real. It was a very unique experience."
Bradley Cooper explains how musician friends, Bruce Springsteen's memoir and co-star Sam Elliott helped him build his country-rockstar persona in A Star is Born.
Though Cooper is best known for his roles on screen (Silver Linings Playbook, The Hangover, TV's Alias) and stage (The Elephant Man), he also served as a producer (as well as star) of the film American Sniper. Now, A Star is Born has whet his appetite for directing.
"If I have an opportunity... yeah, that's all I'd like to do," he said in Toronto.
"I've never been more fulfilled than in this process. The hardest thing was knowing that all the people on this couch trusted me. The fact that they gave their blind trust to me was terrifying and motivating."