Bradley Cooper Reveals How He Created His 'Star Is Born' Voice

"One of the things I knew I wanted, I wanted to lower my voice, but I didn't want to make him too country," Cooper said about creating the character when he visited 'The Late Show' on Thursday.
Scott Kowalchyk/CBS

Bradley Cooper spoke about the deep voice he used in A Star Is Born when he visited The Late Show on Thursday.

Host Stephen Colbert said that when Cooper's co-star Sam Elliott stopped by the show, Elliott said that the actor and director had "stolen his voice" to play the role of Jackson Maine.

"I knew that, as was revealed when I went up onstage to in Vegas, that I had to create a character cause that guy certainly isn't a rock star," Cooper said about his recent appearance at a Lady Gaga concert, in which he and his co-star performed their hit song "Shallow" together.

"She asked me to come up onstage at the end of her incredible show that she's doing," he said about Lady Gaga's residency in Las Vegas. "I watched the video back and we sang. I mean we just went up there and sang. I just look like this sort of idiot from Philadelphia who's singing with Lady Gaga. Luckily I was on pitch, thank God. But I was like, 'Oh, Jackson's gone."'

Cooper said that in order to play an iconic musician, he had to really get into character. "One of the things I knew I wanted, I wanted to lower my voice, but I didn't want to make him too country," he said about his character. "Sam Elliott is from Sacramento, but his mother was from Texas, so he has this accent that you can't quite place, but it's so wonderfully iconic."

Colbert then asked if Cooper is easily able to turn on his Jackson Maine voice. The actor admitted, "I don't think I could."

"First of all, I would do this warm-up all the time and there was a tagline," he said.  "The first six months I could only do it like this. I would go to sleep. My throat would hurt, and I thought, 'Well, this is never going to happen.' That's what I was most terrified of, was his voice."

Cooper shared that his warm-up line was from an interview Elliott did at Sundance, which he later played for Elliott when he visited Cooper's house.

The actor hunched over before he channeled his voice from the film. "This part here is about as good as it gets for me. Something like that," he said with the voice.

He also spoke about his upcoming performance at the Oscars. Colbert asked if he planned to use Jackson's voice during the performance.

"He's gone. I'm not going to try to get him back, but it will be me singing," Cooper said.

The host then pulled out a photo of Lady Gaga performing the song in a sequined bodysuit during last week's Grammy Awards. "What's your bodysuit gonna look like?" asked Colbert.

"I think I'm just gonna keep the tux on," he said.

He added that he was about to head to Los Angeles to meet with his vocal coach from the film to prepare for the performance. "I hope to be present and enjoy it and hopefully people will love the song sung that night," he said. 

Earlier during his appearance, Cooper spoke about his recent Grammy win in the best pop duo/group performance category alongside Lady Gaga for "Shallow."

Cooper was at the BAFTA Awards in London that day and therefore unable to attend the Grammys, so Colbert offered for the actor to hold one of his Grammys. He accepted the award and walked around the stage before he returned to his seat.

The actor also shared that the award was particularly special because the film includes a scene at the awards show.

"It was a big deal because there's a scene at the Grammys in the movie and to get the permission for us to actually have a Grammy, so we actually made a Grammy and it was too small," he said. "They said, 'Well, you could do it, but we have the permission to say, 'You have to take it out of the movie if we don't like that scene.'"