For months now, I have repeatedly issued a few humble requests to actor/Lady Bird stan/A Star Is Born director Bradley Cooper, mostly via Vulture dot com, and my own personal Twitter: What happened to the scene for the “Vows” dialogue track? Why didn’t the final cut get a scene of Jackson and Ally saying their vows? What happened to the zip-line scene, as teased in the trailer? Why did you choose to hold the shot so long on Jackson Maine’s face right before he pulled down the garage door and killed himself? When Jackson passes out after the “Shallow” scene, Ally goes to her friend Ramon’s hotel room to ask for advice — why was Ramon listening to “Yonkers” by Tyler, the Creator during this scene? Were all of Dave Chappelle’s “bros” written in the script? Why were the Grammys putting on a Roy Orbison tribute? Why did you choose Halsey for the Grammys presenter? Why does everyone swear so much? Did Bradley Cooper like Robyn’s album Honey as much as I did?
But most importantly, I’ve asked him: Why won’t you grow out your beard, you nerd!
I love A Star Is Born. A Star Is Born gave birth to me. A Star Is Born is my mom: Even when it drives me crazy (as it does in much of act three), I cannot get enough of this movie. I love its melodrama. I love its singing; I love its dancing; I love Sam Elliott’s mustache. But more than almost anything else, I particularly love Bradley Cooper–as–Jackson-Maine’s beard: Before the Jackson Maine beard, Bradley Cooper was just a symmetrical face and an American Hustle perm. The beard — sepia brown with sienna highlights — turned Bradley Cooper from a singing, drinking rock star, to a hot singing, drinking rock star.
And then, suddenly, Jackson Maine and his beard were gone. Cooper began turning up to red carpets without the hair, without the beard, without the tan. He actually walked around like this, as if it were appropriate, completely disregarding my feelings.
In a totally natural and not-at-all deranged way, many of my subsequent waking hours were devoted to (politely, lovingly) cyberbullying Bradley Cooper into growing out the beard and reclaiming his sun-kissed Jackson Maine glow. Here’s a thought: If you have the ability to be a guitar-playing 12, why would you walk around as a no-lipped 7? I am admittedly bad at math, but those numbers don’t add up for me. It is honorable of Bradley Cooper to live his life as a normal-looking man, but would it not be more honorable of him to live his life as Jesus would? With a beard and a tan, I mean.
For months, I have wondered: Would Bradley Cooper ever get his shit together? Would he start walking among us as the hot, persnickety visionary he revealed himself to be in all two hours and 14 minutes of A Star Is Born? Is That Alright?
Obviously, I take Bradley Cooper’s silence on all of these important matters extremely personally, as I am a Star Is Born warrior on the front lines — and it is getting lonely out here during awards season. Because awards season, for better or for worse, requires glitz and glam and glad-handing. Parties and magazine covers and passionate, viral speeches are the stuff that make or break Oscar campaigning. You have to want an Oscar loudly and publicly and earnestly. Spike Lee is the overdue auteur and the emphatic, passionate face of the resistance. Alfonso Cuarón is giving tours of Mexico. Barry Jenkins is Barry Jenkins! Yorgos Lanthimos is, somehow, jolly and mischievous. (Peter Farrelly is doing things I frankly couldn’t care less about.)
But Bradley Cooper? He exchanged a series of awkwardly emphatic compliments with his co-star Lady Gaga. He also spent most of an interview session fussing with the New York Times over the value of a celebrity profile. (His reticence here actually endeared him to me more than anything else he’s done. I really appreciated Bradley Cooper being dramatic and having an attitude, because I am often very dramatic and very often have an attitude.) He has also spent many months clean-shaven, a move that can only be interpreted as a huge and clear fuck-you to me, Hunter Yvonne Harris, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Only one of us deserves to be treated this way!
Until now, that is. Despite our love-hate relationship, I must admit that finally Bradley Cooper is doing one thing I have asked of him, one thing that might actually help him win this Oscar: He is growing out his beard so that he once again (sort of) looks like the beloved character he wants to win an Oscar for. I want to shout it from the rooftops: BRADLEY COOPER IS GROWING OUT HIS BEARD!!!!! Our (okay, my) long (okay, relatively brief) national (very unimportant and very personal) nightmare (no, this one actually applies) is over! The beard is not as full and fecund as it was in A Star Is Born, but it is there. Like the little engine that could, it’s growing slowly and surely.
Bradley Cooper is playing the game. He wants this Oscar. I can tell because he is taking his biotin. He’s chewing his Sugar Bear Hair. He’s using some beard oil. From the looks of things, he’s even applying some of that Tom Ford bronzer. He’s sitting in Times Square, talking to Oprah about his hurt feelings. A month ago, Bo Burnham was doing more for A Star Is Born’s Oscar campaign than Bradley Cooper. But Cooper and his Jackson Maine beard are back in the game! He’s sharing endearing anecdotes. He’s reminding you how far he’s come. He’s glowing up right before my very eyes. I’m proud! Bradley Cooper, I hope you’re reading this. Like Lady Bird at the end of Lady Bird, all I can say is: Thank you. I love you–r movie. Thank you.