At a time when the health crisis has wreaked havoc through the film industry, the momentary period without movie theatres has allowed us to revisit some obscure facts about acclaimed projects through Far Out’s ‘Hollyweird’ section. Here, we look back two years to revisit Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut with A Star Is Born and, if he had his own way, how things could have turned out very differently indeed.
The film, which stars Cooper and Lady Gaga in the lead roles, was given its out-of-competition world premiere at the 75th Venice International Film Festival and continued its meteoric rise to critical acclaim through the coveted awards season. Its success was unparalleled and, as expected, it was heavily involved at the Academy Awards where it earned a remarkable eight nominations.
Written by Eric Roth and Will Fetters, the story follows a heavy drinking musician (played by Cooper) who discovers and falls in love with a young and rising singer (Lady Gaga). “Seasoned musician Jackson Maine discovers—and falls in love with—struggling artist Ally,” the official film synopsis reads. “She has just about given up on her dream to make it big as a singer until Jackson coaxes her into the spotlight. But even as Ally’s career takes off, the personal side of their relationship is breaking down, as Jackson fights an ongoing battle with his own internal demons.”
While Lady Gaga and Cooper took all the plaudits, A Star Is Born boasted a hugely celebrated cast of varying talents. Take, for example, the brilliant Sam Elliott whose performance alongside the two leads earned him a nomination for Best Supporting Actor at the Oscars—one which unfortunately saw him lose out to Mahershala Ali in a hugely competitive category.
The wide range of accolades directed at the film was spearheaded by Cooper’s performance, both in front and behind the camera. With nominations for Best Actor and Best Director, filmmaker Cooper was widely celebrated for his depiction of Jackson “Jack” Maine, the established singer-songwriter and alcoholic. That said, it nearly didn’t turn out that way.
Cooper, discussing his pre-production plans for the film, previously revealed in an interview with Variety that he had initially eyed up another person for the lead: “I saw this other person that I wanted to do this, who is an actual musician,” he said before adding: “But [the studio] wouldn’t make the movie with him.”
A source close to the publication also revealed that it was, in fact, guitarist Jack White who was Cooper’s first choice. However, despite the scheduling conflict, the decision to move for The White Stripes man was vetoed by production executives.
White, who previously took his talents to the big screen when he played Elvis Presley in musical parody Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, was forced to turn down Cooper’s approach because of scheduling.
In the end, A Star Is Born ended up achieving eyewatering success which, among the personal accolades, ended up claiming close to $500million at the international box office.