A Star Is Born has been around for awhile. In 1937, William Wellman adapted his own story about the unlikely ascension of a talented singer to stardom, with Janet Gaynor as the performer and Fredric March as the man who gives her a chance at fame. In that incarnation, the film was simply a charmer, but in 1954, George Cukor turned the story into a study of personal artifice, with a never better Judy Garland and the reliably endearing James Mason in for Gaynor and March. Then, finally, there was Barbara Streisand‘s catastrophic attempt to remake it in the 1976 with Kris Kristofferson as the coach and Streisand as the blooming musician, with director Frank Pierson behind the camera and an unconvincing transportation of the story to the counter-culture folk scene of the times.
Leaving off on such a down note is as good as any reason to try the material one more time, and for quite some time, it looked like Clint Eastwood was going to direct the remake with person-you’ve-heard-of Beyonce in the lead role; everyone from Tom Cruise to Leonardo DiCaprio to Bradley Cooper was rumored for the lead male road of the show-business vet she teams with. That version seemingly went to pot with the announcement of Beyonce’s pregnancy, and the title quickly became Cooper’s passion project, what will be his directorial debut. Now, it seems that he also has his leading lady, as Deadline reports today that Lady Gaga is in talks to star in Cooper’s retelling, which he will also co-star in.
Gaga is a great choice, if only because it’s crucial to have someone with real experience in the music business to reflect on the more intimate degradations and triumphs of that world convincingly. Beyonce would have knocked the role out of the park under Eastwood’s critical yet classical direction, but that’s no reason to think that Gaga is just as capable of bringing her own distinct views of the entertainment industry to bear in the performance, while Cooper sets out to make his mark as a filmmaker. Despite the setbacks, the production remains intensely promising, and I’m looking forward to see where things progress from here.