Film, TV + Theatre

5 Things you might not know about ‘A Star Is Born’


By Su Fen Tan

5 Things you might not know about ‘A Star Is Born’

If you’ve seen A Star Is Born, you probably loved it, or were at least affected by it — don’t tell us that heart-wrenching climax didn’t do you in. The tragic love story of Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper) and Ally (Lady Gaga) has righteously cemented its spot as one of the best films of the year, a fact made even more impressive knowing that this marked Cooper and Gaga’s directorial and big screen debuts respectively. And the more we listen to the soundtrack, the more we are ‘falling’ for it (high five if you get that reference!) — so much so that we went digging for fun facts about the movie:


1. This is the fourth remake of the original film

Originated in 1937, A Star Is Born starred Janet Gaynor as an aspiring Hollywood actress and Fredric March as an old-time movie star who helps launch her career. The subsequent adaptations in 1954, 1976 (which famously starred Barbra Streisand) and 2013 (a Bollywood production) took a musical turn, where the lead characters are portrayed as singers/musicians instead of actors — which is also the road that the latest version took. And yes, they all have the same heart-breaking ending.


2. Beyoncé was actually in talks to star

Now that we’ve seen Cooper and Gaga in the roles, it’s hard to imagine it any other way. But after the original announcement for the remake in 2010, it was originally slated to begin production the following year with Clint Eastwood as director and Beyoncé to star. Names that circulated for the male lead include Will Smith, Leonardo DiCaprio, Christian Bale, Tom Cruise and Johnny Depp. The project was then delayed due to Queen Bey’s pregnancy, and went into production limbo for a few years before it finally got the green light to begin filming in 2017 with Cooper and Gaga at its helm. What a turn of events.


3. Bradley Cooper sang and played the guitar himself

We all know Lady Gaga is a beast on the piano and vocals (bless her talent), but who knew what a star Bradley Cooper could be behind the mic — and it didn’t come by without hard work. The committed actor underwent six months of intensive schedule for his part (or parts, if you will) in the movie.

“We mapped out my entire schedule, day by day,” he told W magazine. “I’d wake up and work out, followed by two hours of guitar practice and two hours of piano lessons. Lunch. Then Lukas Nelson [Willie’s son], my collaborator, would come over, and we’d write music for one and a half hours. I’d write the screenplay for the rest of the day.” Cooper also learned to sing and speak like a country-rock star, and got his voice down an octave to sound raspy and worn.


4. All the singing and performances were recorded live

Lady Gaga insisted that they sing everything live from the get-go. “She said, ‘What I cannot stand in movies is when it’s playback and you can see they’re lip-syncing. We’re going to sing live’,” said Cooper. Intimidating as it was for the actor and the production team — they had to record more than 60 unique tracks at a time, using two 32-channel mixing boards — they took it on with gusto.

Production kicked off at Coachella 2017, where Lady Gaga was headlining. They had to play in front of real crowds to capture their reactions, but on top of the technical challenges, they also had to make sure the songs could not be recorded by fans and leaked on line. So what happened was while the music was performed and recorded live, it was not amplified. The crowd may have been reacting loudly, but they couldn’t hear anything from the stage. Learn more about the process here.


5. Anthony Ramos, who played Ally’s friend Ramon, can really sing too

He may be fairly new to the big screen, but Ramos is no stranger to fans of Broadway. He has been in the theatre spotlight since 2011, and famously originated the dual roles of John Laurens and Philip Hamilton in the smash hit Hamilton. We predict we’ll be seeing a lot more of him in the future. But before that, spot him in his element with the original Hamilton cast at a performance in the White House here:


Explore More