It’s not just all of the Oscar buzz from critics that’s made Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s remake of the Hollywood classic A Star Is Born reach almost unprecedented levels of hype. With just under a month to go until the movie’s release date, there’s also been a notable contribution from the pair’s newfound penchant for fawning over each other in public, regaling seemingly anyone who will listen with stories like how Cooper, who directed the film, wiped the makeup off of Gaga’s face before her first screen test. Now, thanks to Gaga’s new Vogue cover, there are even more details about their initial bond over spaghetti and their shared Italian roots—and it looks like their first encounter was the same meet-cute as in the film.
In case you haven’t seen the honestly perfect trailer, it shows Cooper’s character, Jackson Maine, a jaded country star with a drinking problem, becoming completely transfixed by Gaga’s character, Ally, upon catching her performance in a burlesque club. He prods her about why she doesn’t sing the songs she writes, before informing her, to her utter amazement, that he thinks she’s beautiful. From there, we see the pair fall hopelessly in love, as illustrated by over-the-top scenes like Cooper’s character calling over to Gaga’s from his car after they’ve already said goodbye, because he “just wanted to take another look at [her.]”
It’s all classic Hollywood camp—which actually turns out to have been the case in real life too. In 2016, shortly after he’d signed up to play Maine and tell his own version of the story, Cooper just so happened to head to a cancer benefit in Sean Parker’s backyard in L.A. and catch Gaga performing, at which point his life apparently changed. “She had her hair slicked back, and she sang ‘La Vie en Rose,’ and I was just…levitating. It shot like a diamond through my brain. I loved the way she moved, the sound of her voice,” he told Vogue, putting into words exactly what seems to be going through Jackson’s head upon his initial encounter with Ally in the trailer. (Minus the club’s hot pink glow.)
Like Jackson with Ally, Cooper was immediately smitten with Gaga. He drove to her house in Malibu the very next day, having made a call to her agent. Cooper has already been loud and proud about the fact that he immediately “fell in love with [Gaga’s] face and eyes,” but it turns out there was even more to it than that. “She came down the stairs and we went out to her patio and I saw her eyes, and honestly, it clicked and I went, Wow,” Cooper told Vogue, adding that he pretty much offered her on the part on the spot. As for what was going on through Gaga’s very beautiful head? “The second that I saw him, I was like, Have I known you my whole life? It was an instant connection, instant understanding of one another.”
The real-life turn of events is arguably even more romantic than those seen in the trailer; they next headed to Gaga’s kitchen, where she cooked them up a meal of spaghetti and meatballs. (Would it be surprising at this point if they Lady and the Tramp’d it?) At a certain point, though, Cooper remembered himself as a director and told her, “The truth is, it’s only going to work if we can sing together,” at which point Gaga printed out the sheet music for the classic folk song “Midnight Special” and took a seat at the piano.
Gaga is, of course, already a real-life star, so at this point their roles reversed, with Gaga delivering a line that echoes Cooper’s in the trailer: “She said, ‘Has anyone ever heard you sing before?’ and I said no,” Cooper recalled of the moment when he started singing and Gaga stopped playing the piano to tell him, “Oh, my God, Bradley. You have a tremendous voice.” Since then, when it comes to Cooper, Gaga has gone into full-on manager mode: “He sings from his gut, from the nectar! I knew instantly: This guy could play a rock star. And I don’t think there are a lot of people in Hollywood who can. That was the moment I knew this film could be something truly special,” she added.
Their bond fully established, Cooper went on to weave in other aspects of Gaga’s real life into the film: “We talked a lot about where she started on the Lower East Side, and she told me about this drag bar where she used to hang, and I thought, Oh, this is just ripe for the story,” he continued, backed up by Gaga: “This is what I think makes the film so successful: that it was so real. And I’ve lived it, so I can testify to that.”
Alas, the natural progression—real-life romance—will have to be left for the realm of fan fic. Cooper would also apparently often tell Gaga, “This is a movie about what would have happened if you didn’t make it until you were 31 instead of 21”—not, you know, that this is a movie about what would have happened if they had met when she was 21, and he hadn’t met and had a daughter with his partner and rumored fiancée, Irina Shayk.