When Lady Gaga Auditioned For A Star Is Born, Bradley Cooper Told Her To Change Her Appearance

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Lady Gaga earned her first-ever Oscar nomination for her role as an unglamorous aspiring singer in A Star Is Born. Yet while it was director and co-star Bradley Cooper who helped Gaga transform into the character of Ally, his very specific vision didn’t always make the process easy for her. In fact, Gaga has revealed that before her screen test, Cooper demanded that she dramatically changed the way she looked.

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Gaga and Cooper’s hit movie is not the first time we’ve seen A Star Is Bornon the big screen, of course. The flick is actually a remake of a 1937 film of the same name starring Janet Gaynor and Fredric Marsh. And James Mason, Judy Garland, Kris Kristofferson and Barbra Streisand have also appeared in musical adaptations of the movie in 1954 and 1976.

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But while the latest version of A Star Is Borncame out in 2018, the movie was several years in the making – and at one point it looked set to be very different. In 2011, for instance, Clint Eastwood was reportedly in line to direct the film, and another singer was rumored to be portraying the leading lady: Beyoncé. Meanwhile, actors such as Christian Bale, Tom Cruise, Leonardo DiCaprio and Johnny Depp were apparently in discussions to star opposite her.

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However, A Star Is Bornwas reportedly put on hold after Beyoncé fell pregnant with her daughter Blue Ivy. But as we know, this version of the movie wasn’t meant to be, and a few months after the birth of her child, Beyoncé left the project altogether. Eastwood, too, ultimately focused his energy elsewhere, taking the lead in 2012 movie Trouble with the Curve.

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Cooper’s name subsequently became attached to the project, and A Star Is Bornstarted on its course to success. Then in 2015 it was announced that he had officially signed on not only to act in the film, but also to direct it – marking the actor’s first turn at the helm of a production. And that meant that it was up to him to find his perfect co-star.

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Born in Philadelphia in January of 1975, Cooper wanted to be an actor from a young age. After graduating from the New School’s Actors Studio program, he made his start in Hollywood, with his first television appearance arriving in 1999. But it wasn’t long before Cooper started landing larger roles in, for example, TV series Alias– opposite Jennifer Garner – and 2005’s big-screen comedy Wedding Crashers. His big break, though, came in 2009 with the commercially successful comedy The Hangover.

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However, it wasn’t until 2011 that Cooper’s acting really made critics take note. His performance that year in thriller Limitless earned generally positive reviews, for instance. And in 2012 the actor scored an Oscar nomination for playing the lead in Silver Linings Playbookalongside Jennifer Lawrence.

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There then followed several more Oscar nominations, including nods for American Sniperand American Hustle. In 2014, in fact, he became only the tenth star ever to be in the running for an Academy Award for three years in a row. And now the actor is up for three Oscars for his work on A Star Is Born. The movie itself is also nominated in a total of eight categories.

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Along with Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Actor for Cooper, the film is competing for Best Cinematography and Best Sound Mixing, while Sam Elliott is up for Best Supporting Actor. And Lady Gaga received two nominations herself – for Best Actress and Best Original Song.

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But A Star Is Bornhas already picked up a host of nominations and wins during awards season. For instance, the movie won Best Original Song at the Golden Globes, and Gaga tied for Best Actress with Glenn Close at the Critics’ Choice Awards, where the singer also bagged a prize for her song “Shallow.” And while the film didn’t scoop up any statuettes at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, Gaga and Cooper did take home a BAFTA for Best Original Music.

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A Star Is Bornsees Gaga portray Ally, a young woman who loves to sing but doesn’t have much confidence. However, her life changes forever when she meets Jackson Maine, played by Cooper, a hit country musician who wants to help Ally achieve her dream. The pair ultimately fall in love, but as Ally’s star rises, Jackson spirals into depression and addiction.

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The movie hit theaters in October 2018 and has now earned well over $400 million at the box office worldwide. But on top of the A Star Is Born’s enormous commercial success, it has also been praised by critics. In particular, Cooper and Gaga have been applauded for their on-screen chemistry. It is Gaga’s star that has, however, arguably shone the brightest.

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But while Gaga’s performance impressed critics – Timemagazine hailed it as “knockout,” for instance – it was her physical transformation that appeared to get most tongues wagging. In fact, it seems that some observers preferred the singer’s stripped-back appearance in the movie. “[Gaga] deserves praise for her restrained, human-scale performance as a singer whose real-girl vulnerability feels miles away from the glittery, meat-dress delirium of her own stage persona,” Entertainment Weeklywrote in August 2018, for example.

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Although Gaga already had some acting under her belt, her role in A Star Is Bornhas really put her on the map in Hollywood. She had previously lent her voice to an episode of The Simpsonsand appeared in movies such as Machete Kills in 2013 and Sin City: A Dame To Kill For in 2014. But the singer received her first major recognition in the world of acting two years later.

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Indeed, in 2016 Gaga took home a Golden Globe for Best Actress after her appearance in the fifth season of Ryan Murphy’s anthology TV series American Horror Story. Naturally, though, the singer is more accustomed to achieving success in the music industry.

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Gaga – whose real name is Stefani Germanotta – shot to stardom in 2008 with hits “Poker Face” and “Just Dance.” And since then, her music career has gone from strength to strength. The singer now has six Grammy Awards to her name and has even headlined the Super Bowl Halftime Show. Perhaps it’s no surprise, then, that Cooper realized that she’d be perfect as his leading lady.

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But while Cooper didn’t always have Gaga in mind for the lead – he wasn’t even familiar with her music for a time – the stars were seemingly aligned. You see, in April 2016 the actor attended a cancer fundraiser where he watched Gaga give a surprise performance of “La Vie en Rose.” And he liked the track so much that he ended up including it in A Star Is Born– and he instantly knew that Gaga was the one for the part.

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“I called her agent the next day and said, ‘Can I go to her house and meet her right away?’” Cooper told Wmagazine in 2018. “I drove to Malibu, and we sat on her porch. The next thing I know, I’m eating spaghetti and meatballs, and I said, ‘Can we sing a song together?’”

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And Gaga recalled the same incident on The Graham Norton Showin September 2018, too. “[Cooper and I] had a wonderful time together,” the star said. “We’re both from the East Coast, and we’re both Italian-American, so I was heating up old pasta from the night before in the kitchen on the frying pan. We were eating on the patio talking about life and family, and then he wanted to sing with me.”

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In fact, Cooper learned to play both the piano and the guitar in preparation for A Star Is Born. The actor had to hone his singing skills, too, which included dropping his voice by an entire octave to achieve his character’s signature gravel-like sound. But even so, he must have been nervous when he sat down with Gaga – an international pop star – at the piano in her living room to sing a duet of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Midnight Special.”

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When Gaga listened to Cooper sing, however, she was amazed by what she heard. “I was blown away by him,” she explained on The Graham Norton Show. “He sings from his soul, he sings from his gut, and when he sings, he’s a storyteller. I was just so moved by his passion for music and for this film.”

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Incidentally, Cooper recorded that very first singing session with Gaga on his phone. And it was this evidence of their instant chemistry that helped him when it came to getting A Star Is Bornmade. “That was actually one of the first things [I did] when I was trying to pitch this movie to Warner Bros. – I showed them that video,” the actor explained on talk show Conanin September 2018.

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It didn’t take long for Cooper to realize that Gaga was the actress he wanted in his movie, then – and it’s clear that the feeling was mutual. “The second that I saw [Cooper], I was like, ‘Have I known you my whole life?’” Gaga told Vogue in September 2018. “It was an instant connection – instant understanding of [each other].”

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But while Cooper was certain that Gaga should star in the project, not everyone was so sure. “Frankly, it was [Cooper who] had to convince other people to have me in the movie, not anyone trying to convince me,” she revealed on The Graham Norton Show, before adding, “He really fought for me.”

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In fact, it seems that Cooper’s belief in Gaga from the get-go is what’s helped the pair to form a close friendship. “You can have a hundred people in the room that are watching you, and 99 don’t believe in you, and one does – and that was him,” she said of her co-star on The Graham Norton Show. “All my gratitude goes to him.”

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And seeing all of the success that A Star Is Bornhas achieved seems to have been an emotional experience for Gaga. The singer-turned-actress actually broke down as she received a standing ovation at Toronto’s International Film Festival. And she also became tearful during an interview with the rest of the movie’s cast on Good Morning Americain September 2018.

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Perhaps that was down to the kind words that Cooper had to say about Gaga during the interview. In fact, he gushed about her incredible work on the movie. “I’m just so glad God gave her the talent that she has and [that] he chose her; that’s quite a vessel to go through,” the director said. “Because it’s really what you do with it, and she’s such a beautiful human being.”

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But while Cooper had had faith in Gaga from the day that he had first gotten to know her, she still needed to land the part of Ally officially. Before that could happen, though, the pop star was required to take part in a screen test, which was shot at her home in Los Angeles. Ahead of Gaga’s audition, however, Cooper had some unexpected direction for her.

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You see, as Gaga prepared for her big moment onscreen, Cooper had one specific request – and it had to do with her appearance. When he noticed that she was wearing some makeup, including mascara and concealer, he actually asked that the star remove it before her close-up.

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Gaga recalled the memorable incident at a press conference in Venice in 2018. “I walked down the stairs of my house before we filmed the screen test for A Star Is Born, and [Cooper] had a makeup wipe in his hand,” Gaga explained. “He put his hand on my face… And he said, ‘I want no makeup on your face.’ This vulnerability was something [that] he brought out in me.”

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According to the L.A. Times, you see, Cooper wanted the character Ally – and Gaga herself – to be totally stripped back for A Star Is Born. It seems that Cooper envisioned the opposite of the pop star’s usual look, which is renowned for being over-the-top and elaborate. The actor-turned-director reportedly explained to Gaga that he wanted her to be “completely open” with “no artifice” at the screen test.

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Of course, said screen test ultimately led to Gaga winning the part of Ally. But even when filming was taking place, Cooper still didn’t want his co-star to sport any beauty products. And according to Cosmopolitan, he felt that a lack of makeup was simply in-keeping with “how the character is.”

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In the early days of filming, though, Gaga attempted to sneak makeup onto the set so that she didn’t feel too exposed. But eventually, she relaxed – and viewers consequently got to see a far more natural side to the star in the movie. So instead of Gaga’s usual platinum-blonde hair, we got Ally as a brunette, and Gaga apparently wore nothing but lip salve and moisturizer on her face at times.

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Cooper’s decision to wipe off Gaga’s cosmetics was seemingly, then, an important moment in their relationship. However, he has also received some criticism because of it. After Gaga shared the story, in fact, some Twitter users admitted that they weren’t impressed by his actions.

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The Daily Beast reporter Kevin Fallon, for one, called the exchange between Cooper and Gaga “gross and creepy.” Twitter user Maura also expressed distain on the subject, asking, “Anyone else find the story of Bradley Cooper wiping off Gaga’s makeup performative, chauvinistic and overall s****y?” Meanwhile, others admitted to feeling “disturbed” and “not that charmed” by the tale.

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In fact, there have been entire articles dedicated to discussing Cooper’s decision to remove Gaga’s cosmetics for her. Nylonmagazine, for instance, called the act a “weird invasion of personal space,” while news site Vox added, “Celebrating Gaga’s makeup-free face as the ultimate sign of her authenticity is more complicated than the sound bites would have us believe.”

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But one person who didn’t seem to mind the exchange was Gaga herself. Indeed, she agreed with Cooper’s vision of Ally as someone who doesn’t wear much makeup. And the singer also admitted that she relates to the character because she, too, struggles with a lack of confidence when it comes to her looks.

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“It put me right in the place I needed to be, because when my character talks about how ugly she feels – that was real,” Gaga told the L. A. Timesin 2018, before adding, “I’m so insecure. I like to preach, but I don’t always practice what I preach.” But while Cooper’s actions may be divisive, one thing’s for sure: his friendship with the singer looks set to last a lifetime.

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In fact, the pair have become so close that Cooper is even on first name terms with Gaga – and no, we don’t mean that he calls her “Lady.” “Sometimes you call me Gaga, but we both know that you call me Stefani,” Gaga said to her co-star after he had won the American Cinematheque Award in November 2018, before adding, “I ran from Stefani for a long time. I put on a superhero cape and called myself Lady Gaga. [Cooper] challenged me to deep dive into a place where I had to see her again – where I had to be Stefani again.”

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And at the L.A. premiere of A Star Is Bornin September 2018, Gaga confessed that she wouldn’t be where she is as an actress today without Cooper. “The most challenging part of this process for me was being as vulnerable as the character needed,” she told E! News. “Taking off all my makeup, taking off wigs, being naked in a way that I’ve never felt before. But [Cooper] made me feel so comfortable, and my performance in this film is because of him.”

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