Who would have ever thought that the guy in the box-office hit franchise, The Hangover, would turn out to be one of Hollywood’s critically-acclaimed filmmakers?
Bradley Cooper, who portrayed Phil Wenneck, a teacher and leader of the Wolfpack, a group of guys who found themselves in trouble after a wild night in Las Vegas in The Hangover, is not only portraying the jaded hard-drinking country music singer-songwriter Jackson Maine, who falls in love with an upcoming nightclub singer Ally Maine (portrayed by Lady Gaga) in A Star is Born, but also directed, wrote and produced the musical romantic drama.
A Star is Born, which marks the fourth remake of the original 1937 film, is Cooper’s directorial feature film debut. He also co-wrote the film with Eric Roth and Will Fetters. He is nominated for Best Director - Motion Picture, Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama, and the movie is nominated for Best Motion Picture - Drama.
He said of directing: “The best thing you can do in terms of storytelling, trying to create, is to do something that challenges you to learn something in return. That all came across because someone believed in this movie. It’s about people believing in you. That’s when you have an opportunity to learn and grow, because you face your fear. Learning comes with facing fear. I faced it singing, directing and writing the movie.”
Cooper recalled where the germ of the idea came from. He was at a Metallica concert six years ago after being invited by the drummer and co-founder of Metallica, Lars Ulrich, the night before. A big Metallica fan, he watched the show and sat behind the drum kit and he saw the scope of it. That was the first time he thought the composition was incredible. And he thought of the impact of what being a rock star was, which is the ultimate high. That was where the idea was born compositionally for the movie. It was born out of always being subjective.
It is obvious that the regular guy from Pennsylvania who was inspired to be an actor after his father introduced him to films like The Elephant Man, has grown as an artist, filmmaker, and actor in a very profound sense. He takes his craft seriously, with dedication and focus.
On fame, Cooper, who has a Master of Fine Arts degree in acting from the Actors Studio Drama School at The New School in New York, explained, “The sonic element of fame is fascinating. There are tons of noise. All of a sudden, you are alone. I didn’t want to have any paparazzi in the movie, but to capture what it feels like from an experiential point.”
Cooper, who has a daughter, Lea, with his Russian model-partner Irina Shayk, thinks that what is important in a love story is to love and the loss of (that) love. And he hopes that everybody gets to experience that in their lives.
He told HFPA journalists: “It brings you to your knees. It levitates you. You feel most human, alive, closed off and isolated. Movies heal in their purest sense. I love this work because of communal healing. That’s what storytelling is for me. So what better subject than a subject of love between two people.”