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One of the most incredible aspects of A Star Is Born — and there are many — is the performance scenes.
For his directorial debut, Bradley Cooper wanted the camera to be on stage with Jackson (Cooper) and Ally (Lady Gaga), capturing an almost documentary feel to the musical numbers. “I was at a concert with one of my friends — he’s a drummer — and I was backstage and I saw the crowd from that point of view,” explains Cooper. “And I thought, ‘That’s a great perspective that I really hadn’t seen in movies.’ You’re usually in the audience.”
Born takes the audience on stage at some of the biggest festivals in the world, most notably Coachella, Stagecoach, and Glastonbury. For Coachella, Gaga both headlined the festival and shot scenes for Born. Says Gaga, “Bradley was like, ‘How are you going to do this?’ I was like, ‘Oh, don’t worry about it. Ally is going to play Coachella.’ When I actually look back at Coachella, it’s more Ally to me.” Adds Cooper, “The truth is, we made this movie for a very small budget considering what it was, and her doing that allowed us to have the week in between Coachella. [The grounds] were still up, so we had the run of the entire place, all the stages, for five days. It was the first stuff we shot. That was amazing because that was the first time I sang on stage with her. I couldn’t believe how easy it was.”
The other festival shoots were more efficient. “Stagecoach was shot in eight minutes between Jamey Johnson and Willie Nelson, and Glastonbury was f—ing insane,” says Cooper. “That was in front of 80,000 people. Kris Kristofferson [who starred in the 1976 version of A Star is Born with Barbra Streisand] was kind enough to give us four minutes of his set. I sang, played the guitar solo, and then I said, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, Kris Kristofferson.’”
Born also got the chance to shoot in the hallowed halls of Saturday Night Live for the moment when Ally begins to become a pop star. “I just never wanted to do a montage of her rise,” explains Cooper. “I thought, ‘How can we show the rise?’ Saturday Night Live is the only place you can go when someone has arrived to a new spot [in their career]. There is nothing else. I asked Lorne Michaels. We had lunch at the Beverly Hills Hotel and I said, ‘Don’t make me recreate it in L.A.’ So we used all the crew, and that is the room — that’s the control room.”
Adds Gaga, “We used their cameras too. We did the whole thing.”