For the fourth time, A Star Is Born has captivated the world. The simple love story about two people whose paths cross while one of their stars rises and the other falls has captured the hearts of millions of people. Lovers of music, show business, and of course, a good romance have all flocked to see the most recent remake of one of the most famous stories in recent history.
The first version, starring Janet Gaynor, was released in 1937. Fast-forward to 1954, and a remake was made starring Judy Garland. In 1976, another remake was produced with Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson in leading roles.
And in 2018, a fourth remake was released starring Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga, who have become two of the most talked-about stars in Hollywood.
This latest remake follows the journeys of Ally and Jackson as they fall in love. While Ally gets her lucky break when she meets Jackson and goes from a hospitality job to winning Grammys and selling out concerts, Jackson sees a decline in his professional life and loses himself as his new wife finds success. Even more interesting than their story are some of the behind-the-scenes details that most viewers don’t know.
Keep reading to find out these twenty facts about the making of A Star Is Born.
20 Other Big Names Were Originally Attached To The Project
Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga were among the biggest names in the film business this year, thanks to their involvement in A Star Is Born. But both Cooper and Gaga were big names before filming was announced. And there were other big names attached to the project at one point or another.
All the way back in 2002, there was talk of Will Smith and Jennifer Lopez being involved. Then Clint Eastwood wanted to direct the film, with Leonardo DiCaprio playing the role of Jackson Maine and Beyoncé playing his love interest. Bey was actually on board to start filming in 2012, but her pregnancy ultimately meant she had to decline.
19 Bradley Cooper Took Music Lessons For His Role
In the film, Cooper’s character Jackson Maine is a washed-up singer and guitarist. To play the role to the best of his ability, Cooper actually went to the effort of learning to play both piano and guitar.
“We mapped out my entire schedule, day by day,” he said in an interview with W Magazine. “I’d wake up and work out, followed by two hours of guitar practice and two hours of piano lessons.” Now, that’s dedication! Most fans didn’t realize that Cooper had such a good voice—or knew how to sing at all—before he recorded his vocals for the film.
18 Jackson Maine Was Inspired By Eddie Vedder
Though the story is fictional, and the characters aren’t real people, Cooper decided to base his performance of Jackson on Eddie Vedder from Pearl Jam. In an interview with Yahoo Entertainment, Cooper said that he actually sought Vedder out and got to know him as well as he could in order to flesh out his character as much as possible: “I went up to Seattle and spent four or five days with him and I asked him 9,000 questions.”
To Cooper’s surprise, the rock star actually advised him not to do the movie. As we know, Cooper took that advice with a grain of salt!
17 Lady Gaga Paid A Subtle Tribute To Judy Garland
In the 1954 version of the film, the aspiring singer Esther Blodgett (the parallel character of Ally) was played by one of the biggest stars of the time, Judy Garland. The 2018 version of A Star Is Born pays homage to older versions, and its tribute to Garland comes during the title sequence.
Ally, played by Gaga, can be seen humming ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ as she takes out the trash and leaves her work. Of course, this song was sung by Garland in the classic film The Wizard of Oz. The film features other tributes too, but more on that to come!
16 ‘La Vie En Rose’ Landed Gaga The Part
When Jackson first sets eyes on Ally, she is performing at a bar while singing ‘La Vie En Rose’ by Édith Piaf. The rendition melts his heart, and he is taken backstage to meet her, where he instantly becomes smitten. In real life, it was Gaga’s performance of this very song that impressed Cooper to the point of seeking her out for the role of Ally.
She was performing it at a private cancer benefit in Los Angeles, and Cooper instantly knew she would make an amazing Ally. “It shot like a diamond through my brain. I loved the way she moved, the sound of her voice,” Cooper told Vogue.
15 A Dialect Coach Helped Cooper Mimic Co-Star Sam Elliott
Jackson Maine speaks with a strong cowboy’s drawl, and at times is even a little difficult to understand. In an interview with Vanity Fair, Cooper revealed that he spent six months with a dialect coach to learn how to imitate the “Sacramento-Texan” twang of actor Sam Elliot, who plays Jackson’s older brother.
Interestingly enough, Cooper went ahead with his vocal training and accent practice before he even asked Elliot if he wanted the role. “Thank God he said yes, because I would have to rewrite the whole thing,” said Cooper. “Six months of work on my voice would have gone down the drain.”
14 To Prepare For The Film, Gaga Gave Up Makeup
Cooper wasn’t the only one who put hard work into preparing for the film. In order to get ready to sink into the character of Ally, Gaga decided to stop wearing makeup months before they even started filming. “I changed my hair and took off my makeup months before filming the movie,” she said during an interview on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. “I had to get into character. I had to get used to it.”
Sporting that totally natural look, which is a far cry from the intense looks of Gaga’s past, helped her to really feel like Ally.
13 Halsey Makes A Brief Cameo
A Star Is Born is set in modern times, so it makes sense that modern artists would appear in the movie. Singer Halsey has a small role in the film as herself, but with all the tension of the scene distracting them, some fans didn’t even notice! She only appears briefly to present Ally with her Grammy award for Best New Artist.
“I play myself for a very small moment!” Halsey tweeted. “Which is insane because it means Gaga and Bradley saw me worthy of representing a piece of the current state of music in this film forever. They could have picked any artist. It was so humbling and unreal.”
12 The Concert Scenes Were Filmed At Real Music Festivals
Those who have seen the film will know that there are quite a few on-stage scenes featuring both Jackson and Ally. Rather than try to find thousands of extras or rely on the help of GCI, Cooper decided to use real audiences at real music festivals to shoot the scenes.
One of them was during Gaga’s performance at Coachella in 2017, where she was filling in for Beyoncé. To get in front of the stage, festival-goers had to pay ten dollars and dress in country-themed outfits as if they were at a Country Western show. To prevent the music from leaking, it wasn’t played over the amps.
11 The Characters’ First Meeting Was Inspired By Gaga’s Early Work
In this remake of the film, Jackson and Ally meet in a bar in New York City where Ally often performs. Gaga revealed that the idea to have the two characters meet this was inspired by the early days of her rise to fame.
As a young artist, she used to cart her keyboard around the Manhattan music scene and perform in bars, and Ally doing the same thing is a tribute to Gaga’s own beginnings. At one point in the film, Ally tells her manager that she won’t go blonde—the very hair color with which Gaga came to be associated.
10 The Ear Doctor In The Movie Is Cooper’s Doctor IRL
Without wanting to give too much away, Jackson struggles with his hearing in the film, which adds to his negative feelings. Something that most viewers don’t realize is that the ear doctor seen in the film—Dr. Slattery—is actually played by Dr. Jones, who is Cooper’s doctor in real life!
The role is small but significantly adds to the plot. So there you go—it looks like there are a couple of benefits to being a doctor to the rich and famous… you never know when you’ll end up in one of the biggest films of the year!
9 And The Dog In The Film Is Really His Dog
Dr. Slattery isn’t the only character to be played by someone (or something) in Cooper’s life. The Maine family’s dog is actually played by Cooper’s real dog, Charlie. “There was no nepotism,” Cooper explained to PEOPLE. “[Jackson and Ally] don’t have a child together but they have a dog together, and I wanted it to be part of their story. I love dogs.”
Charlie (who’s super cute) is named after Cooper’s late father, and the actor has admitted that this move allowed him to feel like his father (as well as his dog) was involved in the making of the film.
8 Ally’s Insecurities Were Based On Gaga’s Insecurities
Insecurity is a big part of Ally’s character, and it’s what makes her relatable to so many viewers. Specifically, Ally doesn’t feel great about the way she looks, particularly her nose. To act out these emotions, Gaga simply drew from real life experience. “I was told when I was first starting out that I should get a nose job,” the singer revealed. “When my character talks about how ugly she feels—that was real. I’m so insecure. I like to preach, but I don’t always practice what I preach.”
Ally has almost exactly the same story: “Almost every single person I’ve come in contact with in the music industry has told me that my nose is too big and that I won’t make it,” she tells Jackson.
7 Cooper Cast Others Who Were Close To His Heart
In addition to casting his dog and his doctor in his film, Cooper also involved other people who are close to his heart. One of the biggest supporting roles was played by Cooper’s good friend Dave Chappelle, whom the actor met a few years ago in London.
To get Chappelle to take the role, Cooper had to fly to Ohio twice to try and convince him. He also cast Chappelle’s daughter Sanaa to play his character’s daughter. When Chappelle finally saw the film at the Toronto Film Festival, he was more than impressed. “Tonight is the first time I’ve seen myself in a [good] movie,” he said after the premiere.
6 Ally’s Wedding Dress Was A Nod To Barbra Streisand
The tribute to Judy Garland comes during the title sequence, but the tribute to Barbra Streisand, who played Esther Hoffman is the 1976 version, was all in Ally’s wedding dress. The gown is significantly more boho than anything else Ally wears in the film and is thought to be inspired by Streisand’s own bohemian bridal look.
The '70s were drawn from to inspire some of Jackson’s wardrobe, including his shirts and belts. Ally’s wardrobe was intended to show her transformation from struggling singer to pop star, beginning with jeans and t-shirts and ending with high-end fashion similar to what famous faces in the real world would wear.
5 There Are Many Differences Between The Versions, Except For One Line
While the different versions of the film are all unique in their own way, there is one line that remains consistent throughout. After Jackson drops Ally off home after they meet and hang out for the first time, he rolls down his car window and shouts “hey” at her.
When she turns to face him, he delivers an iconic line that has been used, in some form, in the other versions as well: “Just wanted to take another look at you.” Pretty romantic! In the 1937 version, the line actually goes, “Do you mind if I take just one more look.” Tomato, tomato.
4 Barbra Streisand And Kris Kristofferson Hung Out On Set
The most recent two leads of A Star Is Born, before Cooper and Gaga, were Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson, who played Esther Hoffman and John Norman Howard in the 1976 version of the movie. Not only did the film pay tribute to that version through its wardrobe choices, but Streisand and Kristofferson actually spent a day on set with Gaga and Cooper.
“[Streisand] gave us a blessing,” Cooper said in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. “Everybody was so excited she was there. We just looked at each other and were like, ‘Wow. How are we here right now?’”
3 Cooper Had To Tan A Lot To Become Jackson
Cooper did more than just work on his Texan dialect and perfect his guitar and piano skills to play Jackson Maine. He wanted to look as washed-out, sun-drenched and, for lack of a better term, cowboy-ish as possible, so the makeup department had him tanning constantly.
Every two weeks, Cooper would have spray tans, and then he would get re-tanned in the mornings before filming began, as reported by Refinery29. And all that effort certainly achieved the right look! Jackson looks exactly like someone who’s spent most of his life biking through the Arizona desert without a helmet or sunscreen.
2 The Parking Lot Scene Foreshadows Ally’s Fate
At the beginning of the film, Ally is nobody while Jackson is a big star. Then she finds fame, and as her star rises, his falls. In a video for the New York Times, Cooper revealed that “the movie knows [Ally’s] a star before she does.”
While they are in the parking lot the first time they meet, and Ally sings the chorus of ‘Shallow’ for him, she stands up and looks down at him, with the lights of the grocery store illuminated behind her. This actually creates the vibe of Ally being on stage, looking down at Jackson, who is just another fan. Very clever!
1 Gaga Drew From Real Pain To Shoot The Final Scene
We don’t want to give away what happens at the end of the film, but just know that it’s going to be a tear-jerker. To shoot her final scene, Gaga was able to find inspiration from real life once again. That very day, her friend, Sonja Durham, passed away after a battle with cancer, and so Gaga used the pain she was in and channeled that energy into her character to give a show-stopping performance.
Durham was the managing director of Haus of Gaga. “I vow to be a little stronger every day for her because that what she would have wanted,” Gaga posted. “I vow to be stronger for anyone who’s lost somebody to cancer.”
Sources: Business Insider, Vanity Fair, Refinery29, PEOPLE