Images from Bradley Cooper‘s A Star Is Born popped over the weekend. They showed Lady Gaga (in the role played by Barbara Streisand, Judy Garland and Janet Gaynor in previous versions of this time-worn tale) and Cooper (in the downswirling drunk role played by Kris Kristofferson, James Mason and Fredric March) performing before cameras at Coachella. The Warner Bros. film will pop sometime in ’18, most likely in the fall.
Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga during filming of a Star Is Born concert-performance scene at Coachella.
The press-release takeaway is that Lady Gaga will be billed by her actual name — Stefani Germanotta. Which has to be one of the dopiest big-studio kowtowings to a headstrong celebrity in history. By the time the movie opens everyone will know this is just an ego game — a way of Lady Gaga saying “I’m extra-special” or “being an artist, I have to be extra-real with myself in order to play this role…it’s essential to my process.” Except this is a partial copout because LG’s actual real name is Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta.
A second, very fundamental aspect is that millions don’t have a clear idea what Lady Gaga actually looks like. LG has been a glammy image-changer and clotheshorse for years, and so heavily made up and be-wigged that all anyone really knows is that she sings well and has prominent cheekbones. If I were to run into an au natural Miley Cyrus doing lunch at Le Pain Quotidien, I would say to myself, “Huh, Miley Cyrus without makeup.” If I were to encounter Lady Gaga in workout duds nothing would register. Okay, I might say to myself “hmmm, interesting face…do I know her?”
A third aspect (and I’ve said this repeatedly) is that stories about drunks are boring. There’s nothing the least bit touching about a person who can’t help killing his/her career because he/she can’t face facts and get sober. Many successful entertainers find they can’t keep the fire going or, worse, fall by the wayside when they let alcohol or drugs carry the load. I feel a measure of sympathy for anyone caught in a self-destructive pattern (having sworn off the hard stuff 21 years ago and embraced sobriety on 3.20.12), but the idea of paying to see a tired story about a talented person slowly turning into a boorish asshole as he/she slips beneath the waves is, well, inconceivable. To me at least.
There was a certain exotic intrigue when alcoholism was examined in The Lost Weekend, Come Fill The Cup, the 1954 A Star Is Born and Days of Wine and Roses, but addictions are tedious. They’re just afflictions like any other disease. Whenever I see an alcoholic in a movie I always say, “Get it together, asshole, or you’ll be pushing up daisies before you know it.” Because that’s life. Some people live shorter lives than others, and the reasons for this are often of their own choosing. Some people just don’t have the luck or willpower or whatever, and some wildebeests can’t keep up with the herd and are taken down by hyenas, wild dogs and lions.
According to the IMDB, the script for Cooper’s A Star Is Born has been co-authored by Cooper, Will Fetters, Irene Mecchi, Stephen J. Rivele, Eric Roth and Christopher Wilkinson.