“Jackson’s gone,” Bradley Cooper declared of his A Star Is Born character on a recent appearance on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert. The actor and first-time director had just returned from Las Vegas, where he performed “Shallow” with Lady Gaga during a show for her yearlong residency at the Park Theater—and there, he was performing as himself, he said, not Jackson Maine, the rock star he plays in A Star Is Born. Jackson Maine, the character, may have written the song, but at the end of the month, Bradley Cooper is the one who will play the song once again, with Lady Gaga during the Academy Awards.
Though tied up in Vegas, Lady Gaga has still done more than anyone to ensure that all the best original song nominees will make it onstage during the Academy Awards broadcast—and while she and Cooper will sing their song “Shallow,” Jackson Maine will under no circumstances be a part of the show. Jackson Maine, spoiler alert, is dead; long live Jackson Maine. (After all the filmmakers’ efforts to avoid spoilers by delaying the release of the soundtrack, this is how they choose to break the news? With Bradley Cooper vanquishing his character once and for all?) A Star Is Born has not had the awards season that was initially forecast for the film when it premiered at the Venice Film Festival last fall—right down to a best director and a best actor snub for Cooper. So, yeah, we’re bidding farewell to Jackson Maine.
During his appearance on Colbert’s show, Cooper explained that he had already retired Maine’s voice—an heir to the Sacramento-meets-Texas accent of Sam Elliott, who plays his older bother in the film. (He brought it back briefly, much to Colbert’s delight.) So when he joined Lady Gaga in Las Vegas, he was “just this idiot from Philadelphia” next to the pop star. “Luckily, I was on pitch, thank God,” he added. And if anyone was hoping for Jackson Maine to return at the Oscars, well, Cooper dispelled those hopes all at once. “He’s gone. I’m not going to try to get him back,” Cooper said. “I will be me singing.…I think I’m just going to keep the tux on.”
As one writer quipped on Twitter, what does that mean for Jackson Maine’s beard? Judging by his look on the Colbert show, that’s Bradley Cooper’s beard now.