While adapting the nearly century-old tale, Bradley Cooper mulled a variety of ways to re-do a pivotal scene of the film’s dramatic climax. Warner Bros. Pictures Group chairman Toby Emmerich revealed some of them in the Variety cover story on Lady Gaga.
[Warning: Spoilers ahead]
Through all four major versions of A Star Is Born, the basic arc leading to the tragic death of the male lead remains the same. Cooper’s adaptation had his character Jackson Maine hang himself in the garage of his home after realizing that his alcoholism and addiction were burdens on his wife Ally (Lady Gaga).
“The first ending that I read, [Jackson] actually swims out into the ocean, where he commits suicide,” Emmerich said in the new interview. The script that we had when he started shooting, he rides his motorcycle. It was more like the Kris Kristofferson ending [in the 1976 version] with the Ferrari, but with Jackson with the Harley. But Bradley changed his mind and came to see me and pitched the idea of what he ended up shooting. I think he was right. When I watch the movie now, I can’t imagine it ending any other way.”
Cooper also spoke about some of his original ideas for the film, including the fact that he wanted an actual musician to fill the role of Jackson once he took over as screenwriter and director (he had previously been in talks to star alongside Beyoncé when it was being helmed by Clint Eastwood). “I saw this other person that I wanted to do this, who is an actual musician,” he added. “But [the studio] wouldn’t make the movie with him.”
A source told Variety that Jack White was the musician in question. He was approached before Gaga was brought onto the film. A repr for White did not immediately return a request for comment from Rolling Stone.