12 Things You Probably Didn’t Know



A Star is Born is the kind of movie that took the audiences and the world by storm. So strong is this movie, so layered are it’s characterizations, that we are still picking it apart over a year since its 2018 release. The big question is why? Is it the chemistry between Ally (Lady Gaga) and Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper)? Is it the tragic story of a faded musician giving a timid one the confidence she lacks to enter full bloom? Or, is it simply this films soundtrack, mixed with the heartfelt visuals, that makes this movie one that we want to revisit.

The story of A Star Is Born obviously has some allure as Bradley Cooper’s version of it is actually the fourth iteration. The first one from 1937 featured Janet Gaynor and Frederic March. Another version came out in 1954 starring the revered Judy Garland and the brilliant James Mason. In 1976 it was redone again with Barbara Streisand and Kris Kristofferson. It would be 42 years later before we would see the current version. One thing is clear from the first viewing of this version of A Star is Born, it appears to be a very personal film for everybody involved. So much so that there’s a lot you may have missed the first time around.

Bradley Cooper Cast His Own Dog In the Movie

Bradley Cooper, Dog, Lady Gaga - <strong><em>A Star Is Born</em></strong>

RELATED: A Star Is Born Review: Bradley Cooper & Lady Gaga Smolder in Electric Remake

In today’s day and age of people treating dogs better than they treat humans, Bradley Cooper took the whole “take your pet to work today” idea even farther. The dog in the film that Ally and Jackson so lovingly spend time with was in fact Cooper’s own dog, Charlie. The chemistry between these three is palpable and it’s pretty apparent, that in their scenes together, neither Cooper, Gaga or his pooch is acting. Making this whole affair even more special, Cooper named the dog after his late father, Charles Cooper, who sadly passed away in 2011.

A Star Is Born Actually Had a Different Tragic Ending

Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga - <strong><em>A Star Is Born</em></strong>

As written, Jackson Maine was supposed to end his life by going into the ocean and drowning. This is actually how things ended for Frederic March’s character when the film came out in 1937. It appears that Cooper and Co. wanted to have Jackson end things with some 1970s flair. In the 1976 version, Kris Kristofferson’s character ended his life on his motorcycle. As cinematic as that death scene probably figured to be, it was ultimately jettisoned to have Jackson take his own life at home. The scene is poignant, tragic, and earth shattering for everybody involved. It’s yet another reason why A Star is Born is such a strongly made film, and why so much was put into the production of it – both from the creators and the fans who loved it.

Lady Gaga Completely Altered Her Trademark Stage Persona

Lady Gaga - <strong><em>A Star Is Born</em></strong>

Lady Gaga has many looks. As different as they all are, terms like “over the top” and “bigger than life” are not misused. It is for this very reason that her portrayal of Ally is so special. Lady Gaga literally transformed herself into this role. For many months she went without make-up and she also completely changed her hair color. The star did this so that she would look more natural. Let’s be honest, Lady Gaga is iconic because her look is her thing. It changes all the time and its used to good effect to make statements that her rabid, fanbase will go “Gaga” for. One can tell by how well this film was received and the $434 million that it made worldwide, that fans were with the naturalistic look of Ally all the way.

Jackson Maine’s Tinnitus Was Why He Initially Got So Close

Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper - <strong><em>A Star Is Born</em></strong>

The scene in the police bar in which Jackson Maine basically falls into Ally while they are talking can be taken a few ways. Is Jackson already “half in the bag” and he can barely stand? Is he being a total “space invader” yet Ally is so captivated she’s willing to let it slide? Or, is the reason why Jackson is getting so close is because his character has tinnitus (he does see a doctor in the film for it) and he can’t hear? We’re willing to wager that it’s probably the latter. It’s a nice touch by Cooper and it also tells us about the characters. They may be disconnected but that doesn’t stop them from being drawn to one another.

Bradley Cooper Had A Spray On Tan

Bardley Cooper spray on tan - <strong><em>A Star Is Born</em></strong>

Ever wonder why Jackson Maine looks so weary throughout the film? Sure, he drinks an awful lot and is out until all hours of the night. However, in order to make that look play cinematically, Cooper actually had a spray tan applied each day of shooting. (Apparently, his entire body got the tanning treatment every other week!) Can you possibly imagine how that felt having it applied? Then, he had to work 12-18 hours a day (in front and behind the camera) with that fake tan caked on. Then, it seems he would want to take it off (this is just an assumption) only to wake up the next day and have to have the spray tan re-applied. His look bleeds through every frame of this film, and it’s another facet that makes us feel for the inner turmoil the Jackson Maine character is going through.

“Digging My Grave” Appears Different In the Film vs. The Soundtrack

Digging My Grave song - <strong><em>A Star Is Born</em></strong>

This is smaller thing to miss but no less important simply because of how it’s presented. On the soundtrack for A Star is Born we hear this song sung between our stars Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga. In the actual film, the song is heard without lyrics as something Jackson plays before a show. Not really sure why the song wasn’t in the film (it could’ve been a time issue), but adding a version of the song to both mediums seems like a good idea. First of all, anytime we can get Ally and Jackson together it’s a good thing. Maybe having the song as an instrumental was Cooper’s way of underscoring the relationship between the characters and the stars, both onscreen and off.

Willie Nelson Looms Large

Willie Nelson - <strong><em>A Star Is Born</em></strong>

Much has been made about how Bradley Cooper went out of his way to talk like Sam Elliot who plays his brother Bobby in the movie. And let’s be honest, if you’re going to try and sound like somebody, Sam Elliot is a pretty good person to copy. However, Willie Nelson is a country icon. This story may not be based on him but the songs he sings and the songs the fictional Jackson Maine sings, they’re all in the same “looking back at life” family. So, it shouldn’t surprise anybody that when Bobby quits working for Jackson, he would go on to work with “Willie” next. In fact, Willie Nelson is such a giant that it seems fair to wager that not many people needed help figuring out which “Willie” Bobby was talking about.

Eddie Griffin Marries Ally and Jackson

Bradley Cooper as Jackson, Lady Gaga as Ally - <strong><em>A Star Is Born</em></strong>

Yes, you read that right. The actor/comedian (who also starred in Undercover Brother with Dave Chappelle – who’s also in {A Star is Born), more on that later) helps our main characters tie the knot in a very special scene. It seems that Griffin made quite an impression on Chappelle when he spoke at the funeral of Charlie Murphy. His words and cadence were so strong that when a pastor was needed to marry Ally and Jackson, Chappelle told Bradley Cooper that he had just the right guy. The scene had dialogue written but Cooper allowed Griffin to make it his own.

Jackson Maine’s Tattoo Has Meaning

Bradley Cooper as Jackson - <strong><em>A Star Is Born</em></strong>

While this is a bit of an esoteric point it is still a point that is worth mentioning. Jackson Maine has a tattoo that is meant as a reference to his father. According to refinery29.com, this is a tattoo that Bradley Cooper specifically drew for this character. The tattoo points to the saying, “Kilroy Was Here” (no, it’s not a reference to the Styx song “Mr. Roboto”). Rather, it was meant as something that Jackson committed to his body forever as a way to remember his father. The term “Kilroy Was Here” is actually something that American soldiers used to randomly write places overseas during World War II. Actors have many tools that they use to inhabit the characters they play. It seems like Cooper did just that in order to further deepen his own connect to the Jackson role.

Eddie Vedder Warned Bradley Cooper About Remaking A Star Is Born

Eddie Vedder, Bradley Cooper - Star Is Born

It seems Eddie Vedder was skeptical about remaking A Star Is Born and even warned Bradley Cooper he might be making a mistake by doing it. Cooper had to learn to sing and play guitar for the movie and asked for help from his friend Eddie Vedder. He has stated that he went up to Seattle and spent 4-5 days with Vedder and asked him 9,000 questions about being a musician. Vedder lent a helping hand to make sure his performance was going to look correct, but also thought he was crazy for even remaking the movie in the first place. Vedder was even quoted as saying to Cooper about the remake, “What? Bro, don’t do that.”

Cinematographer Matthew Libatique Comes Out From Behind the Camera

Matthew Libatique - <strong><em>A Star Is Born</em></strong>

Known for shooting such films Black Swan and Pi it seemed only fitting that in this personal tale from Director Bradley Cooper, cinematographer Matthew Libatique would get in on the fun. He plays a fashion photographer who is around as Ally sees her profile change. While not a seminal role in the film by any means (Libatique claims he had lines but couldn’t remember them), it is a nice touch and it shows how Cooper didn’t just want to make a love/rock story. He wanted to look at the effect of celebrity on performers/artists and in doing that blurred the lines between fiction and reality. How else to explain casting himself (a major movie star) opposite Lady Gaga (a major singer/songwriter), and then littering the film with characters and actors like Libatique, Dave Chapelle, Eddie Griffin, Sam Elliot, and others.

Barbara Streisand and Kris Kristofferson Were On Set

Barbara Streisand, Kris Kristofferson - <strong><em>A Star Is Born</em></strong>

Okay, it isn’t like they were giving Cooper and Co. notes on the production, but apparently the stars of the 1976 film came to the set one day. According to Cooper they both very excited about what they were seeing, and in the director/star’s words they were given Streisand’s “blessing.” Given the goodwill surrounding A Star is Born and the fact that interest in the film still remains high, having Streisand and Kristofferson around (even if just for a day) probably did a lot for the whole “fan service” industry. Let’s be honest, it isn’t like the people who saw the 1976 film were combing the internet for details (or maybe they were), but there’s enough of the past and the present in the 2018 film to make it feel timeless.

Bradley Cooper and Dave Chappelle Are Good Friends

Dave Chappelle, Bradley Cooper - <strong><em>A Star Is Born</em></strong>

Dave Chappelle is known for being subversive and saying things that are both unpopular and needing to be said. Anybody who bore witness to his recent Netflix special knows that some of his comments got him in hot water. So it came as a bit of a surprise to see Chappelle in such a “traditional” film as A Star is Born. Yet, there he is playing the role of Noodles. (In fact, when I first saw the trailer for the film it took me a moment to realize that that was indeed Dave Chappelle). It seems that he and Bradley Cooper are good buddies so why wouldn’t Cooper include him in his helming of this remake? In fact, so close are these two men that Noodle’s daughter is played by Chappelle’s own daughter, Sonal, as well. This is a very nice touch as it allows us to see a bit of Noodle’s and Chappelle’s family dynamic.

Evan Jacobs at Movieweb


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