When actor Bradley Cooper saw singer Lady Gaga perform at the home of businessman Sean Parker, it was not just one of the important moments toward making the movie "A Star Is Born."
It was, Cooper says, the moment.
"She demolished the room," he remembers. "I knew that was plutonium."
The next day, Cooper went to Gaga's home in Malibu. He arrived hungry. Gaga fed him spaghetti. The two East Coast, Italian- American performers shared an immediate, natural connection.
Within minutes, they were singing by Gaga's piano and "A Star Is Born" was, well, born.
Gaga said of that day, "And when I heard him sing! My God! I stopped playing the piano and I was like, 'Bradley you can sing!'"
The latest "A Star Is Born" film is the fourth version of the story. Its release comes more than 80 years after the first.
The new movie has been in development at Warner Brothers for about 20 years.
The film brings many firsts for both Gaga and Cooper. Gaga debuts as a film actor and Cooper, as a director. Cooper also acts in the film.
Actor Sam Elliott is another cast member. He described Cooper as a "tireless” director.
"He never quit on it, from beginning to end."
Gaga acts! Cooper sings!
Cooper stars as Jackson Maine, a country-rock 'n' roll star who drinks too much alcohol. He sees Ally, played by Lady Gaga, singing in a bar and is excited by her skill.
Ally, however, has given up on her dream of musical success. She has been told she does not have the right “look.”
She and Jackson soon fall in love, even as Jackson's drinking problem worsens. Together, they create something honest and beautiful through music. It rockets Ally to stardom.
Gaga said the movie brings back memories.
"When I'm watching it back, I see myself as a much younger girl, more like when I was 15 writing songs at the piano," she said. "What Jackson is trying to teach her is something that I still want to give more of in my music now and in the future.”
Actors find movie's message is personal
Cooper's "A Star Is Born" has been met with great public excitement. The movie’s trailer has been watched more than 10 million times. Its showings at the famous film festivals in Venice and Toronto received major critical praise.
The film’s message -- that success can come to those who are true to their art -- seems to have a powerful effect on viewers.
It is something that rings true for many in the cast, too, including Anthony Ramos. He plays Ally's best friend. The 26-year-old actor grew up poor in Bushwick, Brooklyn, and got his big break on Broadway in "Hamilton."
"I've had teachers tell me, 'You have to be this or you have to be that to be successful. You have to change the way you speak. You have to grow your hair out.' I've had people tell me all kinds of things to give me the formula for success," says Ramos. "But what I realize, which you find by the end of this movie, all you gotta do is love yourself and believe in yourself, and continue to be your truest self."
Gaga has won many fans for her message of self-acceptance. She says she identifies with both her character and with the more troubled Jackson. The pop star has been open about her mental health struggles and her rape, which happened when she was 19 years old.
"Jackson's plight in the film and his substance abuse, it really stays with me. The mental health aspect, the substance abuse aspect, the trauma aspect. I told Bradley right after we watched it in Venice that I had to take 30 minutes to myself in a back room somewhere," says Gaga. "If I act again, the experience has to be as deep as this one or it wouldn't be fulfilling to me."
Cooper also says "A Star is Born" has changed him.
"I find myself thinking of lines Jackson says often, just in terms of taking on a new project: What am I trying to say and how am I going to say it?" Cooper said.
Ramos' success recently led his own older brother to quit his job and "go for it," like Ally does in the film. After "A Star Is Born" opens in theaters Friday, more stars are ready to be born.
I’m Kelly Jean Kelly.
Jake Coyle reported this story for the Associated Press. Caty Weaver adapted it for VOA Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor.
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Words in This Story
demolish -v. to destroy; to tear down; slang to perform extremely well
plutonium -n. a radioactive element that is used to make nuclear energy and nuclear weapons, slang explosive
spaghetti -n. pasta in the shape of long, thin strings
debut -n. the first time an actor, musician, athlete, etc., does something in public or for the public
break -n. a lucky situation or event that makes success possible
plight -n. a very bad or difficult situation — usually singular
trauma -n. a very difficult or unpleasant experience that causes someone to have mental or emotional problems usually for a long time