How Lady Gaga Helped Bradley Cooper Work Drag Into A Star In Born

Ally performing in the drag bar

While there are plenty of seasonal movie choices hitting theaters this October, the movie with the most critical buzz is Bradley Cooper's directorial debut, A Star Is Born. The musical drama features he and pop sensation Lady Gaga as its two leads, in the third remake of the classic story. The past two generations have each gotten their own A Star Is Born, and Cooper's vision will focus on a duo of songwriters. Coper's Jackson Maine discovers Gaga's character Ally singing in a drag bar, in a sequence that also features RuPaul's Drag Race fan favorites Willam Belli and Shangela. CinemaBlend's Sean O'Connell got to speak with Gaga and Cooper recently, where they revealed how Gaga helped introduce Cooper to the inner workings of drag culture, and how it was worked into A Star Is Born.

Bradley Cooper: You know, in terms of the structure of the movie, I always wanted there to be a special moment when he first sees her and make it unique. Eric Roth and I, when he and I were writing the movie, we sat down with Stefani and I would record, very much like we are here, hours and hours. I would just ask her tons of questions, and then he and I would listen to it back and try to take things and think, 'How can we mold this?' And we really loved the drag bar idea. And I wanted her to sing 'La Vie En Rose.' So it was just trying to fit these things together. That's kind of how that came about. And then I met these incredible... Willam just blew my mind. Yeah. He blew my mind, and Shangela. Once I met them and we were on the set, it just became endless the possibilities of what we could do in this space.Lady Gaga: It's so wonderful, as well, [Bradley's] curiosity about drag makeup. I remember like having a whole conversation with him about soaping the brow and how you get the eyebrow to stay down and then how you pat it with powder so that you can't see it. And then we talked about doing the, the eyebrows and all of these little details he was so interested in. I thought it made for such an authentic moment in the film and I'm so happy that it's there.

While providing a unique mcguffin for Jackson and Ally's first meeting, it seems that drag queen culture actually ended up fascinating Bradley Cooper. And since he directed, wrote, and starred in A Star Is Born, its nice to see how specifically he approached the task-- including becoming familiar with drag makeup.

CinemaBlend's Sean O'Connell spoke with Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga at the Toronto Festival, where they broke down the film's meet cute. As shown in the trailers, Bradley Cooper's Jackson Maine wanders into a drag bar after a show, simply in hopes of putting a few back. But when he sees Ally perform "La Vie End Rose", complete with drag makeup and false eyebrows, he's instantly enamored.

But instead of having the drag queens function largely as set dressing, two of the queens have featured roles and fully formed characters. They're played by two of the most popular contestants to come from the reality competition show RuPaul's Drag Race: Shangela and Willam Belli-- who Bradley Cooper is sure to name drop in his conversation with CinemaBlend. It's a moment that Lady Gaga had a hand in crafting, and gives a nod to the singer's history with the LGBT community.

You can catch A Star Is Born, drag queens and all, when it hits theaters on October 5, 2018. In the meantime, check out our 2018 release list to plan your next trip to the movies.

Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Graduated with degrees theater and literature from Ramapo College of New Jersey. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his favorite actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid. He's particularly proud of covering horror franchises like Scream and Halloween, as well as movie musicals like West Side Story. Favorite interviews include Steven Spielberg, Spike Lee, Jamie Lee Curtis, and more.