After starring opposite one another in four films — “Limitless,” “Silver Linings Playbook,” “American Hustle,” and “Joy” —Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro reunited for a one-on-one conversation at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival. The hourlong discussion found Cooper looking back at his Oscar-nominated career and included David O. Russell being invited onstage to co-moderate. De Niro started the conversation with a revelation: He has already seen Cooper’s “A Star Is Born.”
“A Star Is Born” marks Cooper’s directorial debut and is the third time the property has been remade since the original opened in 1937, starring Janet Gaynor and Frederic March. The remakes have included a 1954 musical, starring Judy Garland and James Mason, and a 1976 rock musical, starring Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson.
“It’s terrific and Bradley is excellent in it,” De Niro raved. “The movie is wonderful. I hope it gets the attention I feel it should when it opens. Bradley learned to sing. He is terrific. He really worked hard and it paid off. You see all the hard work he did, it’s special.”
Cooper shot the movie over 42 days after spending nearly three years in development. The film is set in the country-music world and stars Cooper in the lead role opposite Lady Gaga, who is making her film-acting debut. Both actors play country musicians whose romance complicates the highs and lows of their careers. Cooper said he decided to make “A Star Is Born” his directorial debut because the material called for it.
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“There was a reason why [De Niro] wanted to tell ‘A Bronx Tale,’ why he wanted to direct it and nobody else,” Cooper said. “I’ve never thought I should be directing the movies I’ve starred in, but I always realized I was a bit different than other actors because I was so obsessed with the storytelling.”
“The broken love story in ‘A Star Is Born’ kept haunting me,” he continued. “Shots kept coming into my head. I would dream about it. I realized I had to do it, whether it fails or not. I knew I had to try and I wound up absolutely loving it. You can’t hide when you sing. The best way to express love is through singing and music. I knew if I could marry that in a way, it would be special.”
Cooper has been in the editing room for months in order to get the final cut just right. Warner Bros. originally set the film to open May 18, but the release date has been pushed back twice, first to September 28 and then to its current October 5 date. Cooper assured the audience the delays have been because he’s taking the time to make the movie he envisioned from the start, and he promises when the film is released it will be “the movie [I] set out to make.”
As previously reported, Cooper spent some of the 42-day shoot filming at actual music festivals to get as much realistic footage as possible. Cooper and Gaga jumped onstage and sang at the Stagecoach Festival and at Glastonbury in front of 80,000 people. In an ironic twist, Cooper was able to film at Glastonbury because previous “A Star Is Born” star Kristofferson had a set there and gave up four minutes to Cooper. By the end of the shoot, it became clear to Cooper that Gaga was his most valuable player.
“Gaga is a revelation,” Cooper said. “I relied on her. She said right from the beginning that this is going to be a barter: ‘I’m gonna rely on you to get a performance out of me, and I’m gonna make sure you’re going to be a real musician.'”
Gaga made the decision for both her and Cooper to sing live and not rely on pre-recorded tracks, telling the director, “We’re going to sing everything live. The only way this is going to work is live. I can’t stand when I watch movies and you know its pre-recorded and I can see people lip-syncing.”
Cooper said singing live in front of thousands of festival-goers was “terrifying.” Audiences will be able to see for themselves if he pulled it off when “A Star Is Born” opens October 5. At the very least, Cooper will have one passionate fan in De Niro.
You can watch De Niro and Cooper’s entire Tribeca conversation in the video below.