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Jackson "Jack" Maine is a fictional character who appears in the 2018 Academy Award-winning film, A Star Is Born. It is the fourth iteration of the character. He is based on Norman Maine, a fictional character from the 1937 film portrayed by Fredric March, following the 1954 and 1976 interpretations by James Mason and Kris Kristofferson, respectively.
As a seasoned musician, Jackson Maine discovers—and ultimately falls in love with—struggling artist Ally. She has just about given up on her dream to make it big as a singer until a chance meeting one night where Jackson coaxes her into the spotlight. But even as Ally's career takes off, the personal side of their relationship is breaking down, as Jackson fights an ongoing battle with his own internal demons.
For his portrayal, Cooper received nominations for an Academy Award, a BAFTA Award, a Golden Globe Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award and a Critics' Choice Movie Award, in addition to winning accolades from the Dublin Film Critics' Circle, Gold Derby and the Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association, all for Best Actor.
Following development hell since the early 2000s—where a number of thespians including Jamie Foxx, Christian Bale, Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Cruise, Johnny Depp, and Will Smith—on October 9, 2012, Beyoncé, who has previously attached to the lead female with Clint Eastwood as the male lead and director, had announced she was leaving the project, and it was reported that Bradley Cooper was in talks to star.
On March 24, 2015, Warner Bros. announced that Cooper was in final talks to make his directorial debut with the film, and talks had remerged for Beyoncé, who was again in talks to join though still unsigned.
Preparation and influences
For the role, Cooper had grown full beard and hair, emulating the signature style of Kris Kristofferson as a recording. Maine's alcoholism was inspired by Cooper's own years of sobriety and tabloid stories of rockstar Eddie Vedder, lead singer of Pearl Jam.
In preparation for the live performances in the film, Cooper had learn to play guitar and piano for six months prior to pre-production. The scenes in the beginning of were where Cooper is performing to a festival audience, was filmed live at the 2017 Glastonbury Music Festival in the UK, where Cooper was a special surprise to country music singer and actor Kris Kristofferson.
When the film starts, we see Jackson, who has been performing for at least 17 years preparing to go on stage at a music festival to an eager crowd, backstage, his shaky hand reaches out and swallows pills with alcohol. He then proceeds to perform "Black Eyes" for the crowd, once finished, we see Maine go into his driver's car while shutting the doors on his fans. Once the windows are rolled up, we see a bottle of whiskey emerge from his coat, which he proceeds to drink.
Having run out of his supply of alcohol, he has his driver drive him around to look for the nearest bar, which happens to be a drag bar. It is at a show here that he first meets Ally, an aspiring singer. Her live performance of "La Vie en rose" mesmerizes him and he is brought backstage to meet her.
Backstage, he signs one of the drag queens, Emerlad's, breasts and converses with Ally, discussing the art of performing. During closing time, Emerald asks him to perform a number on her bedazzled white guitar, and he performs "Maybe It's Time". Ally overhears him from backstage and the pair go for drinks at another bar, where they discuss Ally's songwriting, her experience of sexism in the music industry (specifically about her nose is regarded as "ugly"), Jack's hearing impairment and the importance of using one's talents.
When a fan of Jackson's comes up to them at the bar and starts harassing them, Ally punches the fan in the nose. After getting ice from 24 hour big box store, Jack helps Ally with her injured hand in the parking lot. He talks about his past in Arizona, which inspires Ally to improvise a verse about him in a song she had previously written ("Shallow"), leaving Jack further impressed. Having spent the entire night talking, Jack drives Ally home in the early morning.
Jack is next getting an ear exam for his tinnitus and it is recommended he start using hearing aids or risk permanent damage. His brother Bobby angrily comes crashing in on a soundcheck, throwing his hearing aids at him and asking about Ally. Jack wonders if Ally is coming to the show and sends a car to her. She and her friend arrive midway through the show, Jack begins singing the revised verse of "Shallow", the song Ally had written about him. She joins him onstage to finish the song and it becomes a viral hit on YouTube.
After the show, the two go to Jack's hotel room where a drunk Jack passes out on the couch. Bobby puts him in bed and tells Ally that this happens often with him and she is the first girl that he ever brought on stage.
He meets Ally's family and whisks her away for a motorcycle trip to his hometown in Arizona for a show. The duo go to see his Dad's farm where he was buried, only to find it was sold and made into wind farm by Bobby. Jack confronts and punches Bobby, who subsequently quits as his manager. Before doing so, Bobby reveals that he did inform Jack about the sale, but Jack was too inebriated to notice.
After some time on the road, Jack tells Ally to perform his favorite song of hers "Always Remember Us This Way" live for the first time. During the entire performance, he is awe of her raw talent and overcome with love. They hug afterwards and tells her “that was so fucking beautiful”. At the party at their hotel afterwards, Ally tells Jack about an opportunity with Interscope Records, he stumbles onto the ground, gets back up and pushes a pastry onto her nose, a callback to earlier scenes about their love, she replies “you jealous fuck”. He accompanies her on piano during a studio recording of "Look What I Found", the song she began writing during their trip to Arizona. Ally's career soon takes off and eclipses Jack's.
Ally surprises Jack at his house with a puppy, who they name Charlie. Jack thanks Ally for giving him a place that now feels like home.
Jack misses one of Ally's shows and the audience sees that he using his boot to smash pills to snort them (ironically, he is performing at a pharmaceutical conference). He falls apart at this performance and is next seen passed out in his friend's (Noodles) front garden in Memphis. Angry, upset and fed up with him, Ally tells him next time he does this he can “clean up his fucking self”. During breakfast, he proposes to Ally with an impromptu ring made from a loop of guitar string, and they are married that same day at a church, ministered by a relative of Noodles.
When Ally performs at the season finale of Saturday Night Live, Bobby reconciles with Jack, expressing regret over missing his and Ally's wedding. Later on, Jack and Ally have a fight after he drunkenly voices his disapproval of Ally's new image and music, calling it inauthentic to her and criticizing her song “Why Did You Do That?”, specifically over its lyrics referring to how his ass looks good in jeans.
Ally is now nominated for three Grammy Awards. At the Grammys, Jack is upset at having to perform in a group tribute to Roy Orbison, during which is he visibly intoxicated. Later in the ceremony, he and Ally argue during the announcement of Best New Artist, where Ally wins. When she goes up on stage to receive her award, Jack staggers up to her and eventually publicly wets himself on stage and passes out. Ally's father, Lorenzo, berates a semi-conscious Jack, while Ally attempts to help Jack sober up in the shower.
Jack joins a rehabilitation program shortly thereafter, for about two months, where he discloses to his counselor that he attempted suicide when he was 13 years old. He also mentions that he has tinnitus, which has been getting worse. During his time in rehab, he is also seen writing a song for Ally.
Jack tearfully apologizes to Ally for his behavior, and returns home. Ally asks to bring Jack to perform with her European tour; Rez (Ally's manager) refuses, prompting Ally to cancel the remainder of the tour so she can care for Jack. Rez later confronts Jack, accusing him of being washed-up and of holding Ally back. That evening, Ally lies to Jack, and tells him that her record label has cancelled her tour so she can focus on her second album.
Jack promises that he will come to her concert that night, but after Ally leaves, he hangs himself in their garage. Ally, grief-stricken and inconsolable, wrecks items in their house after Jack's suicide, is visited by Bobby, who explains that the suicide was Jack's own fault and not hers.
The closing scenes of the film show Ally, who publicly introduces herself as "Ally Maine" for the first time, performing "I'll Never Love Again" in honor of Jack. At the end of the song, it is revealed via a flashback that this is the song that Jack was working on in rehab about his love for Ally, which he had not finished before his death.
Brian Tallerico, writing for critic Roger Ebert's titular website, said that Cooper "does some of the best work of his career as the kind of man who's always restless" and gives "an excellent performance", while Mark Kennedy of The Washington Post called his musical performances a "five-star marvel".
For his portrayal of Maine, Cooper received nominations for an Academy Award, a BAFTA Award, a Golden Globe Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award and a Critics' Choice Movie Award, in addition to winning accolades from the Dublin Film Critics' Circle, Gold Derby and the Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association, all for Best Actor.
For his performance with Lady Gaga on the track "Shallow", Cooper received the BAFTA Award for Best Film Music, the Grammy Award for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance and the MTV Movie Award for Best Musical Moment.
Music critics Jon Pareles and Jon Caramanica of The New York Times had both ranked "Shallow" as the sixth best song of 2018, with Pareles calling it a "perfectly calibrated power ballad" which achieved "movie-musical triple duty as love song, vocal showcase and plot pivot". Rolling Stone listed it as the second-best song of 2018; their writer, Brittany Spanos, called it a "classic-rock fantasy where the 1990s never ended".
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