Bradley Cooper (COL ’97) returned to campus Sept. 11 to discuss his most recent film A Star is Born, which is set for release on October 5, with University President John DeGioia in Gaston Hall. Cooper also gave advice to students about entering film and pursuing their dreams during a Q&A session.
Cooper recalled his time at Georgetown, and his three years on campus after he transferred to the university following his freshman year at Villanova University. “I fought tooth and nail to get into this school. I soaked up Georgetown like nothing else. I had one of the most incredible experiences here,” he said.
When discussing A Star is Born, Cooper, who stars in the lead role as seasoned singer Jackson Maine, said that he wanted an actual singer to play alongside him. Cooper decided to ask Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, better known as Lady Gaga, to play the role of Ally, a struggling artist who Maine discovers and eventually falls in love with.
Cooper, who said he was “completely floored” when Gaga accepted his offer, told a story about when he first met Gaga in person at her home before asking her for the role.
“I didn’t even know what she looked like without her makeup,” Cooper told the audience. He added that she offered him lunch, and they later practiced singing together using Gaga’s piano in her living room.
Gaga’s one condition, Cooper said, was that everything had to be live when they sang, meaning that Cooper and Gaga would actually be singing when they were being filmed, and nothing would be recorded in a studio beforehand.
What makes this film notable is that it is Cooper’s directorial debut, and he told the audience he spent several years making sure he got everything right, from learning how to play guitar to ensuring that the plot had enough rhythm in it. Additionally, Cooper had to retell a story that had previously been told three times in film, while still keeping the audience engaged the whole time.
Cooper, who also co-wrote the film as well as directing and acting in it, told the audience that many people told him not to make the movie at all. “Everyone, including friends, told me not to make this movie. But I just felt something deep inside me telling me to do it.” he said.
Since it was his first time being a director, Cooper used his experiences as an actor to guide him in the directing process for the film. One example he gave was that he attended a Metallica concert backstage at Yankees Stadium in New York City. By being backstage, Cooper said that he obtained a measure for how the crowds at a major music concert looked like from the performer’s viewpoint.
Cooper was joined by Blair Rich (COL ‘97), President of Worldwide Marketing for Warner Bros. Pictures Group and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. Rich spoke of her surprise when Cooper invited her to speak with him. “When Bradley said ‘Let’s do this together,’ I thought he was kidding,” Rich said.
The second part of the event was a Q&A session, where several students were able to ask Cooper and Rich about the film, daily routines, what kept them grounded, and any advice for students currently studying film at the university.
Martin Moreno (COL ‘22), asked Cooper what daily habits he had to improve his life. Cooper said that he meditates, works out, and surrounds himself with people he likes.
“Meditation is a huge part of my life, and I surround myself with people full of love. Maintaining your body and mind is also crucial,” Cooper said. He also told the audience that as time went on, he started to become easier on himself, since having negative thoughts would only lead to a worse mental state, according to Cooper.
Another student asked Cooper to wish her mother, a fan of Cooper, a belated happy birthday, to which Cooper came off the stage to take a selfie with the student.
Dajour Evans (COL ‘20) asked for advice for students who are studying film and looking to improve their skills to have a future in the field. Cooper’s main piece of advice was to get a strong group of friends, and to create content constantly, even if it is not the best quality. (Evans is the Halftime Leisure editor for the Voice)
Rich also responded, stating that when she does interviews for the film industry in marketing, she rarely hires those with marketing degrees or film degrees, because she values a liberal arts degree, such as from Georgetown.
“You can have a passion for a lot of things, and you can do a lot of different things. I am also a big believer in internships, that’s how I got my position [at Warner Bros.], was by interning there while I was a student here.”
One of the reasons Cooper gave as to why he makes movies is because of how he feels when he is working on them, and he would not want to spend his time doing anything else. “Movies provide comfort for me,” Cooper said. “And as you get older, time is one’s biggest currency.”