To play aging rocker Jackson Maine in A Star is Born, Bradley Cooper lowered his voice a full octave, emulating the iconic growl of the man who would play his brother in the film, actor Sam Elliott. The effect in the film itself is brilliant, as Bradley Cooper really sounds the part, but for Sam Elliott, hearing Bradley Cooper use his voice the first time was super weird, as he explained:
I’d never met him before. I went to his home, and had a meal with him, and we talked for a couple of hours, talked about our moms, and our families, and the business, and talked about his vision for the film. [Cooper] played [me] the tape of him working with a voice coach, when he’s trying to get my voice down. I remember him saying, ‘This is going to sound a little weird,’ and it fucking did sound weird. Because it sounded like me! And he’s been listening to my voice in interviews that I’d done. So, not only was he sounding like me, he was saying shit that had come out of my mouth.
Insert meme of two Spider-Men looking and pointing at each other. Bradley Cooper knew that showing Sam Elliott footage of his work with a voice coach to sound like him would be weird, and sure enough it was. Even with the advance warning about the impending cognitive dissonance, it sounds like Sam Elliott was still surprised by the tape, based on his comments to EW.
Sam Elliott must have thought that Bradley Cooper would sound like an imitation or an approximation of his iconic voice. As such, he was caught off guard by the degree to which Bradley Cooper emulated his vocal cadence. It’s already weird to hear yourself on a recording, but to hear a you that isn't actually you must have been truly bewildering.
Bradley Cooper didn’t just sound like Sam Elliott; he was also doing Sam Elliott-isms and saying specific things that Sam Elliott has said. This anecdote sounds even weirder considering that the two actors had never met before. This wasn’t a friend who was imitating his buddy; this was basically a stranger taking on the deep, smoky voice that is Sam Elliott’s calling card.
This strange experience must have been like encountering your doppelganger, but hearing him instead of seeing him. Hearing this, Bradley Cooper really should have answered the door rocking a Sam Elliott mustache to maximize the weirdness for his future co-star.
While it was a strange way to start the experience on A Star is Born, the two actors would up working magic together. A Star is Born netted itself 8 Oscar nominations. Bradley Cooper, despite being snubbed for a best director nomination, was nominated for Best Actor-- no doubt in part due to his incredible performance that included him changing his voice and singing. Sam Elliott too gained a long overdue Oscar nomination, his first, for Best Supporting Actor.
To find out whether these two actors go home with statues, you can tune in to the 91st Academy Awards on February 24 at 8 p.m. E.T. Check out our release schedule to see the biggest movies heading to theaters this year and stay tuned to CinemaBlend for all your movie news.