The first thing I noticed about Bradley Cooper in A Star Is Born was how perfectly the stage lights complimented the caramel highlights in his greasy hair. The second thing I noticed about Bradley Cooper in A Star Is Born were the little flecks of grey in his beard, how they signaled that he was maybe getting a little too old for this country rock stuff, but this country rock stuff was all he had. The third thing I noticed about Bradley Cooper in A Star Is Born was how deep his voice was, how it sounded like gravel and spice, and every delicious vice. But the fourth thing I noticed about Bradley Cooper in A Star Is Born is that he said “fuckin’” a lot. Like, a lot, a lot.
As boozing rocker Jackson Maine, every other sentence out of Cooper’s bearded mouth was “fuckin’ this” or “fuckin’ that.” Bobby (Sam Elliott) is his fuckin’ older brother. Their dead dad was his fuckin’ drinking buddy. When he first meets his protégé-muse-lover Ally (Lady Gaga), he buys her a drink at a police bar, where one of his songs happens to play over the speaker. “I fucked this song up,” he confesses. Ally is fuckin’ talented, and she can really sing, like — fuck! He has a fuckin’ drinking problem, which he doesn’t want to fuckin’ talk about. And Ally was a fuckin’ artist, until she became a fuckin’ pop star. (His judgement, not mine!) He’s Jackson fuckin’ Maine and he doesn’t lie without a fuckin’ alibi. Stars aren’t fuckin’ born anymore; they’re made!
Does Jackson Maine swear too much, or is it just because all the fucks are uttered in the course of an infectious musical melodrama, that it feels like a quite a lot of fucks? I think it’s the latter. Plenty of movies feature characters who throw around the word “fuck,” but it stands out more in this case because he’s not talking about robbing and murdering — he’s talking about the European leg of his wife’s tour. I swear a medium amount, and even had the misfortune of living in the city of Boston, but this is approaching Wolf of Wall Street–level. This is Tarantino-level.
But I am pro-fucks, pro–Jackson Maine, and pro–Vulture investigations, so I decided to count. Approximately how many times does Cooper–as–Jackson Maine say “fuck” or some variation thereof (usually “fuckin’”) in A Star Is Born?
According to my count: 54.
There’s a rhythm to the way Maine delivers the fucks, like the swear just tumbles out of his mouth into one sentence, and then into the next, and then — sure — into the next one too. I don’t know what ASMR is and am too lazy to Google it, but I think it means “Always Swear MR,” as in “Let Mr. Jackson Maine swear as much as he’d like!” That “ck” has a satisfying roundess, a fullness when Bradley Cooper says “fuckin,’” like maybe … [redacted — I went to Catholic school!]. It’s not sinister, but sly, like Jackson Maine is telling us something better than the truth — it’s the fuckin’ truth, because he says “fuck” a lot. It’s hot and reckless.
The only person to out-fuck Jackson Maine is his brother Bobby Maine, who says “fuckin’” only about two dozen times, but every time he says “fuckin’” you can practically hear his fecund white mustache tickle his bottom lip, and that is also a very satisfying sound. Bobby says “fuckin’” less, but his “fucks” have more impact. But also Sam Elliott is 74 and Bradley Cooper is 43, and even though they’re brothers in this movie, that’s a lot of fuckin’ time for Sam Elliott to get the hang of this.
Fifty-four “fucks” over the course of two hours and 17 minutes is 27 “fucks” an hour. Thirteen of the “fucks” come in Scene 98 alone, where Jackson drunkenly confronts Ally about her pop music as she’s taking a bath. “You couldn’t be my dad if you fuckin’ tried,” he sneers. “He had more talent in his fuckin’ finger than you have in your whole fuckin’ body. So don’t even fuckin’ go there about that. Alright? That’s over the fuckin’ line.” Another thing to consider: Cooper co-wrote script, so there are about one hundred more fucks — uttered by Ally, her father, her manager, plus those from Bobby — that can be attributed to him, beyond just Jackson Maine’s. Again, just something to consider.
Anyway. Bradley Cooper says “fuckin’” a lot in A Star is Born. The number, again, is 54. I don’t begrudge him for it, because it’s just one of the many things that makes Jackson Maine fuck-able. That’s all!