The Meaning Behind Bradley Cooper & Lady Gaga's Hair In A Star Is Born

Photo: Courtesy of Warner Bros Pictures.
In a 1976 review of the second remake of A Star Is Born, starring Kris Kristofferson and Barbra Streisand, film critic Roger Ebert wrote, "There's just no way, after all the times we've seen Streisand... for us to accept her as a kid on the way up." Ebert goes on, detailing exactly how despite the plot, movie makeup, and a lineage of two other eponymous films that came before it, the audience just couldn't possibly buy Streisand — an Academy Award winner — as a struggling singer. While some may have feared the same would've been the case for both Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga in the fourth version of the same film, we're here to tell you there's nothing to worry about.
After racking up 11 million views on its YouTube trailer, Cooper's directorial debut for A Star Is Born has officially sent perpetual chills down our spines. In the first few seconds of the preview clip, Cooper sings as Jackson Maine, the rock 'n' roll superstar soon caught up in a love story with undiscovered singer-songwriter Ally. He's sweaty, dirty, sexy, and probably hungover — and that's not something we discover because he tells us; we know it by just looking at him. "That was my goal," Lori McCoy-Bell, hair department head for the film, exclusively tells us. "I was striving for authenticity, for something you could identify with immediately."
Maine is, for all intents and purposes, dealing with addiction — or at least someone who is dealing with substance abuse. He's also a rockstar and in love with someone who, quickly, finds the kind of fame he is simultaneously losing. And while the script and award-worthy acting will tell you that, it's also the hair and makeup that convinces you of the story itself. So, we spoke with McCoy-Bell to tell us everything we need to know before sitting down to cry watch A Star Is Born. Keep reading to get the scoop on all the behind-the-scenes details on Cooper's tale-telling hair and Gaga's multiple dye jobs on-screen.
1 of 3
Photo: Courtesy of Warner Bros Pictures.
When did you first hear about the project for a third remake?
"I heard about this project from [Cooper] years before we actually did it, so I've been along for the whole ride. I've been working with him for 10 or 12 years now, since way back when he did Wedding Crashers. When he said he was going to do the project and it would be with Gaga, I knew it was going to be amazing. I had chills and those chills never really stopped."

What products did you use to get his rockstar look?
"We only did two hair tests on [Cooper] before filming to figure out exactly what products would work to create Jackson Maine. During the first test, I only used water to comb back his hair, but since he has a lot of it, it looked too fluffy on camera. Once I figured that out, I ended up using Paul Mitchell's Marula Oil for shine and texture. That really gave us a foundation to Jackson's hair. Then, I took Kiehl's Silk Groom through one-inch sections of his hair in the back, pulling it through until every piece was covered in product."

He touches his hair a lot in the film. It almost feels like it's a character...
"Yes! That's why I wanted his hair soft enough so he could move his hands through it and tuck it behind his ears. You'll definitely notice that he used his hair to give nuance to Maine. You can see it so quickly that he's this rockstar and what kind of person he is just looking at his hair."
2 of 3
Photo: Courtesy of Warner Bros Pictures.
Gaga had her own hair and makeup team on set. How did you collaborate with her stylist, Frederic Aspiras, to make sure Cooper's vision was cohesive with their work?
"It's not unusual for someone like Lady Gaga to use her own team on a film. She's used to them on the road with her and doing her style. But I did have to work with [Aspiras] a little bit on Gaga's hair because stage hair doesn't work the same way film hair does. It all requires a different expertise because on film you can see everything, you can't cheat any of it. But on stage, it's less likely that someone will see a hair out of place from a distance at a concert."

Her makeup, or lack thereof, was used to show her character Ally's evolution throughout the film. Was her hair used as a similar plot tool?
"[Ally's] storyline is a little different than Jackson's. There's a visible evolution of how Jackson and Ally are together as a couple, but Ally's rise and fame are physically pulling her away from who she was before Jackson found her. It shows how the industry can pull someone away from what they once were."
3 of 3
Photo: Courtesy of Warner Bros Pictures.
How is the separation of success seen on-screen through Jackson and Ally's looks?
"There is a slight difference in how Jackson's hair and his skin look when he's doing well and sober — and that's it. But when you first see Ally, she's just a woman working in a kitchen, singing with friends. Her hair is brown, kind of cut into a simple shag tied in knots, and she barely wears makeup. As she slowly gets more and more known, she changes. She has to change. Her hair becomes more done-up and at one point, she's even told to change her hair color to become this commercial entertainer. Towards the end of the movie, Jackson is at rehab while she's winning a Grammy. We were trying to show distance between them for their own individual fame and success. Eventually, it all comes full circle and you see Ally in the final scene with her natural brown hair again."

More from Celebs & Influencers


R29 Original Series