A Star Is Born is Bradley Cooper's directorial debut. He also stars in the movie alongside pop icon Lady Gaga. The movie currently holds a 91% "Fresh" rating on RottenTomatoes.com, with many critics praising both Gaga and Cooper's star performances as the star-crossed lovers fated to suffer terrible heartbreak. What almost no one was expecting walking into the theater, however, was Cooper's strange demeanor and low, gravely voice. It turns out Cooper's portrayal of his character, Jackson Maine, was partially based upon the look and mannerisms of another famous rocker.
When putting together Jackson Maine's aesthetic, Cooper turned to rock idol Eddie Vedder, the frontman for Pearl Jam.
In fact, prior to filming the movie, the actor told Yahoo he flew to Vedder's home to see the real man in action:
I went up to Seattle and spent four or five days with [Vedder] 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 was wonderful.
It sounds like Vedder was a pleasure to work with!
Of course, when Cooper told the singer he planned on doing his own vocals in the movie, Eddie couldn't hide his thoughts:
He was like, 'What? Bro, don't do that.'
To truly get inside the head of a career musician, Cooper also spoke to Lukas Nelson, son of Willie Nelson and frontman for Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real.
Nelson gave Cooper some sage advice for his onstage performances in the movie:
I remember you said to me, 'Look, man, when you get in front of an audience you better have sung this song 1,000 times, and maybe 10,000 times. Because the first thing that is going to happen is you are going to lose your breath.'
Though many musicians doubted Cooper's musical chops, he immediately impressed his co-star, Lady Gaga, who commented on the first time she heard him sing:
I just stopped playing instantly and I looked at him and said, 'Bradley, your voice is incredible. You have a real voice,'...He sings from his soul. He sings from his gut. There are people who can do many acrobatics with their voice, but to tell a story with his voice is a different animal.
He got the chance to prove this talent while filming the movie's opening number, "Black Eyes." To capture what it's really like performing for a sell-out crowd at a rock concert, Cooper asked Willie Nelson if he could jump up onstage to film the number in the middle of Nelson's set. Nelson agreed, on one condition: Cooper had eight minutes. That's one take, maybe two, to play the song perfectly and get the footage needed for the movie.
Needless to say, Jackson Maine nailed it.
Gaga even remembers the moment when she realized Cooper was as much a musician as he was a director, describing an instance when he walked into the recording booth and "immediately criticized what he heard:"
'This is not Jackson's sound.' I thought, 'O.K., now we have a musician on our hands.'
It's pretty easy to see why the movie has so much buzz surrounding it. If you haven't seen it yet, do yourself a favor and get tickets now!