It’s Lady Gaga Day here on the Lido. A Star Is Born, the Gaga and Bradley Cooper-starrer that Cooper directs, blasted into the Venice Film Festival with the first press screenings this morning and a jam-packed press conference that’s just wrapped ahead of tonight’s official out-of-competition red carpet gala.
Gaga and Cooper discussed the movie, which marks a first for each of them: It’s the recording star’s first major film role, and the actor’s feature directing debut — as well as the first time he sings in front of a concert audience. Said Gaga: “It was a true exchange. He accepted me as an actress and I accepted him fully as a musician.”
The story has of course been adapted for the screen before, the 1976 version starred Barbra Streisand who has already offered praise. Honoring the 1954 take with Judy Garland, Cooper has Gaga sing a snippet of “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” in the opening sequence. Gaga noted, “It’s safe to say because we have seen so many incarnations, we know this story has stood the test of time. It’s a beautiful story and one I think people will be touched by all over the world. It’s a story about love and the human plight and addiction.”
In Cooper’s version he plays rocker Jackson Maine, who’s struggling with demons via gin and pills, and falls hard for Gaga’s Ally, a waitress who dreams of being a singer-songwriter but has been told her looks are a hindrance.
Of the challenges, Gaga said: “At the beginning, Ally has completely given up on herself. When I decided I wanted to be a signer and go for it professionally, I was 19 and hit the ground running, dragging my piano from dive bar to dive bar and really believed in myself. Ally doesn’t believe in herself. It’s the relationship with Jack that brings her to life.”
Cooper also brought her a sense of vulnerability. “He really wanted to see me with nothing. I walked down the stairs from my house for the screen test and Bradley had a make-up wipe and wiped my face with it… For someone who doesn’t feel safe all the time, he made me feel so free. At the same time, he’s so laser focused while he’s working. I got to live my dream. There could be 100 people in the room and 99 don’t believe in you, just one — and it was him.”
Cooper called shooting with Gaga “insane” because the crew “got to watch her sing every day. We kind of forgot we were doing a job. She starts and the temperature in the room changes.”
Gaga also helped soothe Cooper, “She made me feel so comfortable from the first day we met. We sang together in the first 15 minutes. When you see an artist of that caliber treat you like a peer it’s very emboldening.”
Cooper said he could sit for hours to discuss what he learned on this movie. He also praised former Warner Bros exec Sue Kroll, who is an executive producer. “Sue Kroll believed in this movie when maybe not everybody else did. She is absolutely the reason we are sitting here today. It’s all about people believing in you.”
Kroll returned the compliment, “Bradley has grown as an artist in profound ways. There was no hesitation at the studio level when Bradley wanted to direct this film. His dedication and focus are so meaningful and unusual… You’re one of the most talented, incredible filmmakers I’ve ever worked with.”
According to a recent Fandango survey, A Star Is Born was recently voted among the Top 5 upcoming releases and Gaga was the No. 1 most anticipated actress.
The first exhibitors screening of the film in Los Angeles last month drew through-the-roof reactions and predictions of Oscar nominations. Clips also set CinemaCon and CineEurope alight in April and June. The 8:30 AM press screening here was enthusiastically received. We’ll know what Venice critics think later tonight. Warner Bros releases on October 5 domestically.