Does Bradley Cooper play guitar? In a nutshell, he does. He’s a classically trained musician and can sing quite well. As for his guitar-playing skills, he trained for six months for his role in A Star is Born, though his guitar lines in the movie ended up being dubbed by singer-songwriter and guitarist, Lukas Nelson.
If you are to put every single review on A Star Is Born into a single word, it would probably be “disclosure.”
Okay, let’s address the elephant in the room – a lot of eyes had really set gaze on Lady Gaga (and could we blame anyone?). Behind this mega pop star with moves and powerhouse vocals is also an acting prowess. But we should also give proper dues to Bradley Cooper.
Alongside the release of the blockbuster hit, Cooper got his rightful props for his parts in the film’s success – from directing, acting as one of the two leads, and shared performances with musical aficionado Lady Gaga.
But, did he really?
In this article, we’ll be digging deep into Cooper’s real musical valor (and how much of that translated into the big screen).
Who is Bradley Cooper? And is he a musician?
Bradley Charles Cooper is an actor from the United States who began his career in humorous films before moving on to action pictures before becoming a director and filmmaker.
Cooper was born in Abington Township, near Philadelphia, on the fifth of January, 1975, and grew up in the outer counties. At the Actors Studio Drama School, he engaged in a master’s program for Fine Arts. After that, he earned a bachelor’s diploma in English from Georgetown University.
In 1999, he screen debuted in the TV comedic series Sex and the City. Moreover, he also appeared in the spy thriller Alias on a regular basis in 2001. Cooper eventually met minor success after playing a supporting part in the comedy picture Wedding Crashers (2005) for a brief period of time.
Cooper’s fame grew as a result of his subsequent work, and in 2009, he had his big break with the enormously successful The Hangover.
Years after, he has received several accolades. These include two Grammy Awards and a British Academy Film Award. Cooper also boasts nominations for a Tony Award, nine Academy Awards, and six Golden Globes.
We get it. He’s great in films, but what about music?
Cooper is a classical musician by training, which is something that many people are unaware of. Cooper studied with operatic tenor Mark Nicolson and did play the double bass before landing on our airwaves.
In a question and answer session with Stephen Colbert on The Late Show, he said he “asked Santa Claus for a baton” when he was eight years old – an insignia of his love for conducting.
Did He Really Play Guitar in a Movie?
Okay, he’s a musician. But what about his exact involvement in the film?
Cooper had to go through a lot of preparation before he could portray Jackson Maine (this is on top of acting, directing, and partaking in writing for the film). In order to play the rock star, the 43-year-old figure divulged to W Magazine that he put up a rigid regimen.
“We mapped out my entire schedule, day by day. I’d wake up and work out, followed by two hours of guitar practice and two hours of piano lessons.” Cooper explained. He then added how his collaborators would visit him to spend hours writing songs.
In addition, as per Entertainment Tonight, the actor took six months of singing lessons along with guitar and piano training in order to accurately play a country singer in the flick. Cooper was able to lower one octave in his voice after working with a vocal coach.
Also in 2017, he embarked on a four-day shoot at Glastonbury, before appearing on the Pyramid stage with Lars Ulrich and Kris Kristofferson (Metallica drummers, who portrayed Cooper’s role in the 1976 A Star Is Born).
And sure enough, his efforts did transcend across international theaters: He sang all his songs, alongside Lady Gaga, in the movie LIVE.
What’s more impressive is he did not just sing – Cooper impressed Lady Gaga, herself.
“I was blown away by him. He sings from his soul, he sings from his gut.” Lady Gaga revealed this in an interview in The Graham Norton Show when asked about Cooper’s singing.
However, the same cannot be said with the guitar playing.
Cooper’s guitar playing on A Star Is Born is delivered by a different artist, despite Cooper’s extensive music training prior to filming the project. Every one of Cooper’s guitar lines was dubbed by Lukas Nelson, the son of country star Willie Nelson and a skilled guitarist and songwriter. Moreover, Nelson was a significant contributor to A Star Is Born since he co-wrote a lot of the soundtrack.
To contribute, Nelson jokingly described Cooper’s guitar skills as a “five or a six” during an exclusive interview with Entertainment Tonight. Being the good sport that he is, Cooper responded to this comment by saying it’s “generous.”
Here’s Bradley Cooper as his character Jackson Maine singing Maybe it’s Time—while playing the guitar—from the movie A Star is Born:
Does He Play Guitar in Real Life, Though?
Short answer: he does! Maybe around a 5 or a 6 out of 10 as Nelson would put it.
As mentioned in the last section, Cooper spent months taking guitar lessons (on top of vocal and piano classes). As primary witness to the fruit of this labor is the Gibson CEO, himself, James Curleigh.
“I would rate his skills right up there with, literally, some of the best that you’ve heard,” Curleigh mentioned in an interview in Access. He also went as far as saying that Cooper’s playing was astoundingly compelling, which you would not expect from a guitar novice. “He’s got his own intricacies. He’s created his own sound. And to try to replicate that is not easy.” he added.
It was, indeed, a long conversation – and a surprise on how much curiosity would drive you. Let’s wrap it all up with some conclusions:
- Bradley Cooper spent months on voice, guitar, and piano training to prepare for A Star Is Born.
- All of Cooper’s melodic lines in every single soundtrack for the movie were his very own.
- However, all the guitar playing from the film was dubbed by another talented guitarist.
- Still, Cooper could definitely play the guitar.
Alas, we can say that the biggest takeaway is how much an actor would do to give justice to a role.
Joyce Ann graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communication and Media Studies at New Era University. She especially enjoyed her journalism class and was nominated for Photojournalist of the Year. Joyce Anne loves music; she is a self-taught piano player. When she's not writing (or baking or watching documentaries), she's probably playing songs on the piano, mostly by ear.