Bradley Cooper’s mission in directing “A Star Is Born” was to create the most authentic story possible, which is why he made the decision to have himself and Lady Gaga sing live on camera and perform concert scenes at real festivals like Coachella and Glastonbury. The music romance, which marks Cooper’s directorial debut, puts the camera on stage with the performers as they sing in front of thousands of real festival attendees.
“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,” Cooper recently told Entertainment Weekly. “And I thought, ‘That’s a great perspective that I really hadn’t seen in movies.’ You’re usually in the audience.”
Cooper gained access to Coachella thanks to his leading co-star, Lady Gaga. The pop star was headlining Coachella the year “A Star Is Born” was filming. During the five weekdays between the first and second weekends of Coachella, Cooper directed the festival scenes for his film. The filmmaker got permission from the festival’s organizers to use the space and Gaga was already in town to perform.
“[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,” Cooper said. “That was amazing because that was the first time I sang on stage with her. I couldn’t believe how easy it was.”
Beyond festivals, Cooper revealed to EW that he also shot in the real “Saturday Night Live” studio. Cooper and his co-writers Eric Roth and Will Fetters wrote a scene in which Gaga’s character Ally performs on the NBC sketch comedy series, a signal of her rising fame. Cooper, adamant about maintaining a level of authenticity, knew the only way to film these scenes was to do them inside Studio 8H.
“I just never wanted to do a montage of her rise,” Cooper said. “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.”
Gaga told EW the crew even used “Saturday Night Live’s” cameras to make the scenes as accurate to the real show as possible. “We did the whole thing,” she added.
Warner Bros. will world premiere “A Star Is Born” at Venice later this month. The movie opens nationwide October 5.