EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros is negotiating with its American Sniper star Bradley Cooper to make his feature directorial debut on the remake of A Star Is Born. The hope is for Cooper also to star in the film. Once his deal is done, their first stop will be to Beyonce, who once was positioned to play the role of the young woman whose dreams of stardom are helped by a self-destructive icon whose best days are behind him. She was circling when Clint Eastwood was going to helm the remake, and the director discussed that male lead role with Cooper. She hasn’t yet been re-approached formally. Cooper will take a pass at the script with Will Fetters, who wrote the most recent draft, and the hope is that he can get into this wholeheartedly when he finishes performing The Elephant Man in its London transfer from Broadway.
He also will become a producer on this through Warners-based 22 Green, the banner he shares with Todd Phillips. Jon Peters, Billy Gerber and Basil Iwanyk also are producers. Cooper is coming off a double Oscar nomination for American Sniper, which has surpassed $528 million worldwide and growing, remarkable for an R-rated war film that cost $58 million to produce. There is some symmetry to these two films. When Steven Spielberg dropped out of American Sniper, Warner Bros worldwide production president Greg Silverman told Cooper that Eastwood was reading the book for recreation. Cooper was able to call Eastwood directly because of the relationship they developed when Eastwood offered Cooper that male lead in A Star Is Born.
First directed by William Wellman in a 1937 film that starred Fredrick March and Janet Gaynor, A Star Is Born was first made at Warner Bros in 1954 with a George Cukor-directed film that starred Judy Garland and James Mason and then was done in 1976 with Frank Pierson directing Kris Kristofferson and Barbra Streisand. This long has been a priority at Warner Bros, with leading men such as Will Smith, Tom Cruise, Leonardo DiCaprio and Christian Bale all circling at some point. Beyonce has been most often mentioned for that female lead, and really, how can you beat that? She’s displayed her acting chops in films that included Austin Powers In Goldmember, and her singing creates an opportunity not really seen since Warner Bros’ The Bodyguard with Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner.
Warner Bros production executives see this as a natural extension for Cooper. They think he can make the kind of transition to multihyphenate status that Ben Affleck did when he began directing on Gone Baby Gone, The Town and then Argo, which won Best Picture for the studio. Cooper was very hands-on for American Sniper, through all its ups and downs, and he has shown an eye for details that include postproduction. Directing has been on Cooper’s mind for some time. He has been circling the New Line film Honeymoon With Harry, which got Dan Fogelman to write the latest draft. Cooper wants to star in that film with Robert De Niro, and he also hopes to direct that sometime down the line.
It looks like A Star Is Born will be his first turn behind the camera. He’s repped by CAA, Beyonce by ICM Partners.