The untold truth of A Star Is Born

Bradley Cooper hit the nail on the head with his directorial debut, the fourth remake of the movie A Star Is Born. Cooper also starred in the movie alongside Lady Gaga, and together, the two captured the hearts of viewers everywhere. Cooper has been lauded for his directing and acting, while Gaga proved she could successfully make the leap from pop star to movie star. The film garnered a handful of Golden Globe 2018 nominations, and is expected to kill it during the entire awards season. 

Of course, making a movie this big comes with a lot of behind-the-scenes secrets and interesting facts. The adorable story of Cooper and Gaga's instant chemistry and all of the information about the production behind the movie make it even more fun to watch. Below are some of the things that went into the making of A Star Is Born. Just beware, if you haven't seen the movie yet, there may be some spoilers! 

Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper's real life interaction inspired this one iconic scene

Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga first met at a Saturday Night Live taping a few years ago, but it was their second interaction that really made an impact. In 2016, after signing on to make A Star Is Born, Cooper was searching for an actress to play Ally. He went to a cancer benefit in Sean Parker's backyard in Los Angeles where Gaga was performing, and the rest is history. Cooper told Vogue, "She had her hair slicked back and she sang 'La Vie en Rose,' and I was just… levitating. It shot like a diamond through my brain. I loved the way she moved, the sound of her voice." 

He knew then that he wanted her in the movie, and that performance helped to inspire one of the first scenes in A Star Is Born, when their characters meet — Ally is singing "La Vie en Rose" when Jackson Maine falls for her. Gaga told Vogue that when they met the next day to discuss the film, "it was an instant connection, instant understanding of one another." Cooper basically offered her the part that day, and then they had spaghetti and meatballs together. 

The film originally had different directors and stars attached

The fourth remake of A Star Is Born could have been completely different than the version we all witnessed. According to Vogue, Clint Eastwood was originally set to direct the film, and he had asked Cooper to play the part of Jackson. At some point, Cooper took over the director role. In 2011, Deadline reported that Eastwood was also in talks with Leonardo DiCaprio and Beyoncé to play the starring roles in the film. 

Years before that, according to People, Will Smith was interested in remaking the film. Although Smith didn't want to direct, he did want to play the role of Jackson. He even had a production deal with Sony Pictures, and supposedly wanted Jennifer Lopez to play the role of Ally. Filming obviously never picked up for either idea, and Cooper ended up scooping up the project. He told Vogue that after he did American Sniper and The Elephant Man, he thought, "I'm old enough now."

Gaga gave Cooper the confidence to learn how to play guitar and sing

Throughout the film, Cooper has a lot of scenes where he's playing guitar and singing — something we've never seen him do before, but that's really him. According to Vogue, Cooper trained for the film by learning how to play guitar and working with a vocal coach and a piano teacher for over a year. He ended up writing three of the songs for the movie. In an interview with the magazine, Cooper attributed his singing to Gaga, saying, "All because of Gaga. She really gave me the confidence." 

When the two first met to discuss the movie, they sat down at Gaga's piano to play one of the songs together to see how they sounded. Gaga had Cooper sing, which he described as "awkward" to W magazine. But Gaga could see he had talent, and that seemed to boost his confidence. An interview with Gaga for The Los Angeles Times reveals that she helped him through a lot of the music stuff on set, writing some of the songs and answering all of Cooper's questions about what it's like backstage at a concert. 

Cooper and Gaga developed code words while working together

After Gaga and Cooper's instant connection, the two quickly became very close. In an interview with W, Cooper said they bonded over both coming from Italian families, explaining, "We were immediately comfortable with each other. We made a kind of deal: I believed in her as an actress, and she believed in me as a musician." 

While on set together, the two developed a shorthand, according to The Los Angeles Times, which said, "If Cooper wanted Gaga to evoke a feeling of warmth, he'd whisper, 'Tony.'" This was because of her very close relationship with singer Tony Bennett — Cooper knew that whenever Gaga thought about him, she felt a lot of love in her heart. He would whisper "ninja" or "assassin" if he needed her to focus. It paid off, as Cooper raved about her acting to the newspaper, saying, "Her learning curve was insane, just from the first day to the second day."

Gaga stopped wearing makeup and doing her hair to get into character

Even if you've only seen clips from A Star Is Born, it's clear that Gaga looks completely different than she normally does. There are no elaborate costumes or makeup — instead, she has brown hair, and she's wearing almost no makeup at all. Gaga told The Los Angeles Times that one of the first times they met for the film, Cooper handed Gaga a makeup wipe and told her to leave her face bare. He wanted her to be, "Completely open. No artifice." She realized she had to trust Cooper, and said, "It put me right in the place I needed to be, because when my character talks about how ugly she feels — that was real."

Adjusting to not wearing makeup was difficult for Gaga. On The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, she said that she changed her hair and removed her makeup months before filming to get into character, saying, "It was actually kind of liberating." 

They shot actual live performances

A lot of the scenes in the movie show Gaga and Cooper performing on stage together, in front of huge crowds, as Ally and Jackson. As it turns out, many of those crowds were real. According to Entertainment Weekly, they shot some of their major performance scenes at big festivals, like Coachella, Stagecoach, and Glastonbury. At Stagecoach, they shot in front of 80,000 people in eight minutes, and Kris Kristofferson (who starred in the 1976 version of the film) gave them four minutes of his set. 

Coachella was a little more difficult, since Gaga was headlining. She shot her scenes between sets, and Bradley sang live with her as Jackson Maine. He told W, "At first, I was terrified. You forget everything when you're onstage in front of 30,000 people. I almost couldn't breathe. But then I looked at Stefani and relaxed: Her belief in me as a musician gave me courage."  

Willie Nelson's son wrote most of the songs for the movie

Although Cooper and Gaga both wrote a few of the songs for the film, they didn't do it all on their own. Lukas Nelson, Willie Nelson's son, helped them with a lot of the music. Cooper noticed him when they were shooting at Coachella and Lukas was playing guitar for Neil Young. Nelson told Rolling Stone, "He looked at me and said to himself, 'I want this guy to teach me how to present myself as a musician in this movie.'" Although Nelson was originally just going to be a music consultant, he eventually started writing with Gaga, and Cooper had him and his band, the Promise of the Real, become his onscreen backing band for the film. 

The relationship between all of them was so great that Nelson even asked Gaga to sing background vocals on his song "Carolina," which is on their 2017 self-titled LP. Nelson said working with Gaga is "fantastic," adding, "I really feel like our brains work similarly in music."

Cooper cast his own dog in the film

If you've seen A Star Is Born, it's impossible not to fall in love with Jackson's adorable and loyal dog. The two seemed to have a special bond, and that wasn't fake either: the dog is actually Cooper's real life dog, Charlie. Cooper told People, "There was no nepotism — I wanted this relationship with the dog. [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." 

Even sweeter is the fact that Charlie is named after Cooper's late father, which had even more significance for the actor. He told People, "That meant a lot for him to be in the film." He also joked that since being in the movie, Charlie "has an agent. I don't talk to him much anymore. He doesn't return my calls. He always walks away from me unless I have food."

The final scene was shot after Gaga found out her close friend had died

Without giving away any huge spoilers, let's just say that the end of A Star Is Born is pretty devastating. The final scene is Gaga singing the song "Never Love Again" on stage, and the day she shot that scene happened to be very difficult for her in real life, too. In an interview with Apple Music, Gaga revealed that the day she had to film that scene was also the day she found out her friend Sonja, who had been battling cancer for years, had died. 

Gaga said she left the set to see her friend, but she didn't make it in time before she passed. After spending some time with Sonja's family, she went back to set and shot the final scene, singing the song in her friend's memory. She said, "Bradley was so beautiful with me that day. He was so loving." He told her she didn't have to do it, but Gaga said all she wanted to do was sing. 

Cooper's on-stage persona was inspired by this real-life rocker

Cooper's version of Jackson isn't based completely on any one person, although he was a riff on the character Kristofferson played in the 1976 version. Cooper explained this as "an amalgamation, on a subconscious level." He also revealed to Yahoo News that much of Jackson's onstage persona was influenced by a real musician: Eddie Vedder from Pearl Jam. He said that he became good friends with Vedder, who acted as his source and inspiration behind Jackson. 

Cooper said, "I went up to Seattle and spent four or five days with him and I asked him 9,000 questions. And he gave me minor, little things that only musicians know about what to do, just aesthetically and the inner workings." He joked that Vedder was surprised Cooper was going to actually sing on stage, saying, "Bro, don't do that." But in the end, Vedder ended up helping him tremendously, and Cooper described him as "wonderful." 

The ending was supposed to be different originally

If you haven't seen A Star Is Born and you don't want the ending spoiled, you've been warned: don't read on! If you have, here goes: the ending of the movie, in the version we all watched, was Jackson committing suicide by hanging himself in his garage. The final scene of the movie was Ally singing a song on stage that Jackson wrote for her. Apparently, though, this almost didn't happen. 

Toby Emmerich, the chairman of Warner Bros. Pictures Group, told Variety that the original script had a very different finale. In the first ending, Jackson "actually swims out into the ocean, where he commits suicide." Then the ending changed again. Emmerich said, "The script that we had when he started shooting, he rides his motorcycle." He describes it as more similar to the ending of the 1976 version. Eventually, though, Cooper changed his mind. Emmerich says he thinks the end result was the best, saying, "When I watch the movie now, I can't imagine it ending any other way."