Bradley Cooper wasn’t sure he would be able to play rockstar Jackson Maine in his adaptation of A Star Is Born until he tested out his air guitar skills on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.
The Hangover star shared the story with his longtime pals Will Arnett, Jason Bateman, and Sean Hayes on the 100th episode of the SmartLess podcast on Monday.
“As Jason knows, you can’t really choose what is going to motivate you to do all that work that it takes to write and direct something. I always, deep down, thought maybe I could, like, play a rock star,” Cooper said with a laugh on the podcast. “Only because I thought I could crush air guitar, as Will knows.”
“But I’m so crazy about making sure that I went on Jimmy Fallon and I asked, I said, ‘Can I do an air guitar?’ Just to see if I believed it. I’m not kidding,” he added. “So I went on The Tonight Show and I said, ‘Can I do ‘Down By The River’ by Neil Young?’ And I did it, and I looked, and I was like, ‘Oh yeah, I think I buy that.'”
That was when he decided that he could, in fact, pull off the role of Jackson Maine, the rode hard and put away wet rockstar.
“Okay, I’ll do A Star Is Born,” Cooper said. “I’m like, ‘I think I can pull this off.’ I wasn’t sure before.”
It’s hard to find the clip on YouTube, but here it is in full with Korean subtitles.
Of course, Cooper didn’t rely on his air guitar skills alone. He told W Magazine in 2018 about taking music-school boot camp for six months before making the movie.
“We mapped out my entire schedule, day by day,” Cooper said. “I’d wake up and work out, followed by two hours of guitar practice and two hours of piano lessons. Lunch. Then Lukas Nelson [Willie’s son], my collaborator, would come over, and we’d write music for one and a half hours. I’d write the screenplay for the rest of the day.”
However, it’s Willie Nelson’s son, Lukas Nelson, we hear playing Jackson Maine’s guitar parts in the movie.
“The music you hear on the soundtrack was played by my band, and I produced those songs with everybody,” Nelson told Fader.
Main Image: Bradley Cooper in A Star Is Born