Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga‘s gorgeous, intimate performance of “Shallow” from “A Star Is Born” at Sunday’s Oscars was one of the high points of the evening, and it should come as no surprise that they were the creative forces behind that showstopping moment.
After “Shallow” received a nomination for Best Original Song, which it won, on Jan. 22, Cooper and Gaga began “meticulously” planning their performance, Rob Mills, ABC’s senior VP of alternative series, specials, and late-night programming, told our sister site Variety.
“Bradley and Gaga, they really had this idea in their head of how they wanted it to be,” Mills said. “And the producers really worked step-by-step with them to make that what they were envisioning a reality… this was staying true to the spirit of the movie as well. They really wanted to kind of embody everything that the characters in the movie stood for in this three-minute number.”
The performance literally came out of nowhere in the show, as there was no introduction from a presenter; rather, following the Best Visual Effects presentation, the first unmistakable notes of the song started playing while stagehands ushered out a mic stand and a piano before Cooper and Gaga rose from their front-row seats to walk on stage hand in hand.
“Nobody knew where it was going to be in the show,” Mill said. “And the fact that it came right out of a speech gave it that element of surprise. Normally, if you’re in the house, you’re going to see that Bradley and Lady Gaga aren’t in their seat. The fact they actually went from their seats to the stage up there, that surprise was so great. Obviously, the song is engineered to be one that kind of crescendos to that kind of energy. It was just electric in the house.”
Fans of “A Star Is Born” were quick to realize that the performance was filmed exactly the way Cooper filmed the numbers in the movie: shot from the stage perspective, and all in a single take to boot. The camera showed the perspectives of each of them as the other sang his or her solo verse. It then traveled with Cooper as he grabbed the mic stand during Gaga’s famous wail before settling on a tight close-up of them cheek to cheek at the piano for the finale. Every second of that, including the mic move, was choreographed with Oscars director and co-producer Glenn Weiss.
“[Weiss] meticulously work with Bradley on every element. They would walk through the whole thing and how it’s going to look and go. They really rehearsed the hell out of it, and they made it so it was just seamless,” Mills said. “Even in rehearsal you knew, this was one of those things that’s going to be played in those montages of all-time Oscar moments.”
The painstaking detail with which Cooper and Gaga directed the performance isn’t shocking to Jackson and Ally stans. In November, Gaga and Cooper told Variety that they would definitely perform the smash hit if it’s nominated, with the latter teasing that he already had an idea. “We talked about that actually, because I’m such a maniac,” Cooper said at the time. “I started texting her the whole pitch of how we should do it. So we’ll see. There might be a cool, unorthodox way we could perform it.”
Ten bucks says this was exactly what it was.
The performance went over like gangbusters — 90 percent of our readers loved it — and the two received a raucous standing ovation. “It was definitely something you could feel in the house,” Mills said of their palpable chemistry. “It came through on the screen, it was everywhere. There was real heat there.”