When first-time director Bradley Cooper was shooting his forthcoming remake of “A Star in Born,” his co-star, Lady Gaga (aka Stefani Germanotta), made a deal with him.
“She said right from the beginning that there would be a bargain,” Cooper recalled at a public talk at the Tribeca Film Festival with Robert De Niro. He recalled that Gaga told him, “‘I’m gonna rely on you to get a performance that’s honest out of me’ — because she’d never done a film before — ‘and I ‘m gonna make sure that you’re going to turn into a musician. Because we’re going to sing everything live.’ And I went, ‘Wait, what?’”
Cooper told the story as part of a meandering conversation that was part of the Tribeca Talks series of festival events. De Niro revealed that he’d seen a screening of “A Star is Born” — “I just want to say it was terrific,” he said — and Cooper shared why he felt so close to De Niro, an actor with whom he’s made four films (including “Limitless” and “Silver Linings Playbook”).
Cooper said he first met De Niro as Cooper’s own father had gotten sick, and had passed away between the filming of “Limitless” and “Playbook.”
“This experience in ‘Silver Lining Playbook’ is probably the reason why I grew so close to you and love you so terribly as a friend,” Cooper told him. “Because I got to say the word ‘Dad’ all the time after my dad had passed away, and I got to say it to you.”
De Niro often seemed at a loss for topics of conversation, so much so that David O. Russell — the director of “Playbooks,” “American Hustle” and “Joy” — was invited up onstage to join him and Cooper.
Russell remembered meeting De Niro for the first time with the actor Joe Pesci, and recalled Pesci telling him, “‘You’re gonna find out when you hang out with this guy: If you don’t give him what to say, he’s not gonna say anything.’ That’s what we’re experiencing right now,” Russell joked.
Over the course of the talk, Cooper described working on the 42-day shoot of “Star is Born,” as well as the three-year preparation process that included vocal lessons and performing live in front of audiences at actual concerts. He, De Niro and Russell also reminisced about working together, particularly on “Playbook” and “American Hustle.”
A question from the audience prompted De Niro to get political, as he often does at public events. When asked what role he’d never play, he replied, “You wanna guess? I’ll give you one hint. I’ll tell you. Donald Trump.”