It takes two hours and 14 minutes for Ally Campana (Lady Gaga) to be born in A Star Is Born, but only one scene for another star to crown: “Hi Ally, I’m Gail!” Rebecca Field says, popping up in the movie’s first act. As Gail, she’s an assistant–cum–talent wrangler, leading Ally and her friend Ramon (Anthony Ramos) from a blacked-out SUV through a tunnel, down a hallway, up some stairs, and — finally! — backstage at the Greek in Los Angeles, where the pair can enjoy Jackson Maine’s (Bradley Cooper) show.
Gail doesn’t really enter the scene, she just materializes: Click! And the SUV door opens, Gail introduces herself, and Ally and Ramon shuffle out of the car. It’s the first indication that maybe this surreal second date is really happening. Ally’s ditched her job to show up at some Arizona country star’s gig after they spent one night drinking and nose-touching and punching drunk cops. When Gail shows up, a situation that seemed dreamlike becomes more certain: Maybe Jackson really does like Ally, maybe it wasn’t just the gin talking, maybe he definitely remembers her. Gail instructs Ally and Ramon to leave their bags in the car, that all they have to do is put on the VIP passes she’s had made for them, and follow her up to the stage to the greasy-haired crooner. Gail — this year’s Mafalda, nay, this year’s Cyril! — has it handled.
Field was surprised by the audience’s overwhelming affection for her single Star Is Born scene, which she says was shot over one long night. (And, she confirmed, Bradley Cooper usually used his deep Jackson Maine voice when directing — yee-haw!) “I think it’s funny. I didn’t really realize that anyone would react,” Field told Vulture over the phone. “I was just sort of grateful to be included in any way and people have had a really nice reaction. I think [the scene] comes at a really pivotal moment.” A pivotal moment, yes, but also a universal fantasy: Doesn’t everyone want a Gail to take care of the details? Field — who beat out Casey Wilson for the role — talked to Vulture about the movie, Gail, and the other scene she filmed that didn’t make the final cut.
Can you tell me about your audition for Gail? How did you get the part?
It was like a year and a half ago, I guess, in the spring. I think they were a little bit secretive about the project or exactly who was involved. I knew that Bradley Cooper was producing and directing, I think. I just went in for an audition and the sides were really fun. It was short but fun. And I played it much more harried and less together sort of like, “Oh okay, I-I got it, Um, I can get this, I can get…” — a little bit more scatterbrained.
They called out of nowhere a month later and said, “Yeah, you booked it.” I shot for like a week with everybody and it was really intimidating but also really fun to meet Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga and Sam Elliott — incredible people. We had an amazing table read. They had lot of the music cut by then, at least the songs down. They played that throughout our table read which was really exciting to hear. It was great.
I don’t know if you saw, but the website Into said that Gail is the real star in A Star Is Born.
I know! Kevin O’Keeffe. I literally thought maybe he was kidding at first, so I read the whole thing and he was like No, I’m not kidding. Thank you. I wrote to him on Twitter. That was so sweet. I didn’t even think about it that way, but I love that was the reaction that he felt he and his friends were feeling, like, this is a very uneasy, unsure moment and I’m freaking out and you know Ally’s freaking out and everyone is nervous and then there’s Gail, there to guide us and lead us and everything is going to be okay. It’s very funny.
I like that she’s not harried, that Gail is just the person who arrives in the nick of time.
Right, I mean Bradley he’s the one who said, “You’re a gangsta,” “You got this, you gotta play this gangsta.” That’s what he said. He was like, “Is that a weird note to get from a director?” And I was like, “No, I feel what you’re saying.” He’s like, “You do this all the time. You’re a gangsta, you know exactly what needs to happen. You’re in charge just make it happen. You’re calm, cool, and collected because you do this all the time.”
It’s also like a funny thing — you could have played it a bunch of different ways in the sense, like sometimes people who are assistants see some new girl coming to see a show, it could have just been like [feigns irritation], “Yeah, come on. Let’s go. This way.” I think there was something unspoken in the way it was written and the moment that was special to him, like, let’s take extra care than we normally would.
It shows how important Ally was to Jackson. I think you have that line, like, “Oh, he’s so excited you’re here.”
Yeah, [Bradley] said to improv some stuff like that. That wasn’t all scripted stuff so that was nice that he let us improve some of our walking lines. He’s like, “Throw out a little of this, or a little of that,” or whatever feels right somewhere along this line.
Logistically, what was it like filming the concert scene at the Greek? I heard that the audio was quiet on set to get a clear recording. Was it kind of weird not being able to hear the music all the way?
Yeah. I noticed there was a lot of times where [on set] when she would step onstage you couldn’t hear anything at all. It was almost like she was just miming through it but she must have been singing low just like you said, so that it would sound great for the film.
Can you tell me about the other scene you did that was cut?
I’m fine with it, I’m grateful to be on the screen at all. It was a scene right after the Greek when Jackson and Ally go back to the hotel together and he passes out, and then she wakes up in the morning and he’s gone. I come knocking on the door much in the vein of Greg Grunberg [who plays Phil, Jackson’s driver] when he knocks on her door: “I’m here to pick you up to take you to the next stop.” And Ally’s like, “Uh, no.”
It’s another one of those scenes where I’ve gotta get you on an airplane and she’s like, “No where is he? Like he just ditches? This is insane.” And I was like, “Well he does kind of disappear sometimes. But I’m sure he’ll be there, he always shows up for the venue. You know for the music.” And she’s very pissed at him and then that’s also where Anthony Ramos’s character comes in and he lets us both know in that moment that she’s been on YouTube and that it’s a huge sensation.
The Gail line, “Leave your bags in the car,” was that improv or was that in the script? Because that’s like my favorite line in the movie.
No, I think that was in the script. Yeah, that was definitely in the script.
I had a sigh of relief when you said that. I mean, that’s what I always want to hear: “Oh, leave your bags.”
Yeah, right? I know, because I was thinking that too, like, they’re gonna lug all their shit? No, we gotcha you covered.
Gail has it taken care of!
Yeah: Your bags will be with you when you need them at the end, so you can sleep and all your shit will be there. You just get up there and hang out.
Can you tell me about the first time you saw the movie, and what your reaction to it was?
I hadn’t seen it until the night of the premiere here in L.A. I don’t even know what to say without sounding cheesy and gushy. It was just like otherworldly to me. I was very moved, more than I anticipated being, even though I’d read the script and I knew the story. And I knew when I was on set how great they both were. I didn’t expect the chemistry and everything and the music to move me as much as it did. I just feel like it’s a movie all about being true to yourself and finding yourself. This movie has really touched me.
Have people recognized you when you’ve gone to see it at a regular movie theater?
Yeah! One night I went with my friends, these two girls came down the escalator and they were like, “Oh my God, you were in the movie.” She was so cute. It was my one shining moment of Gail, I love it.
What do you think Gail would think about the movie?
What do I think Gail would think about the movie? I think she would think that it was gangsta.