Bradley Cooper has dedicated his heart and soul over the past four years into producing his latest film, A Star Is Born.
But if you ask the Hollywood actor about an unsurprisingly fundamental component of the musical drama, its soundtrack, don’t expect a straight answer.
During my 7am phone interview with the 43-year-old actor – which was 4pm for Bradley in New York – I think there’s no simpler way to kick off the chat than by asking what his favourite song in the film is.
“That’s a hard question,” he responds after an initial pause.
“Is it really though?” I then dare to ask him. He says it isn’t something he can answer so simply.
“Maybe it’s because I really like a lot of them. Each one has its place in the movie. Honestly, I couldn’t narrow it down to one,” he explains.
After watching the film myself, I’m not so convinced. I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt that he just wants the audience to make up their own minds.
If I had to put my money on it, I’d say Lady Gaga’s rendition of French singer Edith Piaf’s La Vie en rose could be Bradley’s top pick. After all, it’s the tune that inspired him to cast the singer in the first place.
“I happened to be at a cancer fundraiser and she was singing La Vie en rose and I was blown away. I’d never heard her sing live before,” he tells me of the moment he knew Lady Gaga had to be part of his film.
“So ideas started swirling around in my head about her potentially playing a character for this love story. Then I met with her a couple of days later and right away we had a great chemistry,” he continues.
“I just felt so easy and relaxed and we sang together and it felt like that worked. That was the beginning of it and then there was no movie without her.”
Bradley’s musical commitment to the film in terms of technicalities is second to none. Besides directing, he plays the male lead Jackson Maine, a guitarist troubled by alcohol and drug addiction who falls in love with Gaga’s character, Ally.
Prior to filming, he spent 12 months learning how to play various musical instruments. .
“I definitely love music since I was a kid but I really spent a year on both the piano and the guitar just to get proficient enough so that you could believe me as that character,” he reveals. “That was important because she [Gaga] is the real deal.”
Having seen the movie, I can attest Bradley’s guitar shredding is also the real deal, but don’t be fooled in terms of the sound.
“That’s all me but what I dubbed over was Lukas Nelson,” the actor explains. “So what you’re hearing is Lukas Nelson but there’s no trickery of the camera, that’s all me.”
There’s two promises Bradley made to himself when making this movie, based on authenticity and doing the storylines justice to those resonate with it on a deeply personal level.
“The whole thing is a huge challenge and two of the prerequisites for myself was that for anybody who is a musician who watches the movie, I hope will feel we got it right,” he tells me.
“And also anybody that has been or knows someone who has gone through addiction will also say, ‘Yes, that’s not a watered down version or a version that’s not really accurate, but that’s exactly the way it is’.
“That’s my hope and that was a major priority for me as a filmmaker, dealing with those two ideas.”
As for the feedback he’s received since the film’s international release, Bradley says: “I’ve kind of heard it all. That’s the way it goes.”
A Star Is Born releases in Australian cinemas on October 18.
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