A Star is Born is an unusual phenomenon which was first made into a musical drama movie in the 1930s, then the 1950s, then the 1970s and finally in 2018. In the 40-year gap between the 1976 version and the one directed by Bradley Cooper, several other attempts were made to get it off the ground – with some surprising director and actor combos.
At one stage director Carl Franklin was going to make it, with Will Smith set to star. Then in 2000, Oliver Stone – of all people – was going to direct A Star is Born and Jamie Foxx was going to star in it. Stone and Foxx had worked together on sports movie Any Given Sunday in 1999, and obviously enjoyed the experience, so wanted to team up once more.
Foxx told EW in September 2000; “Oliver mirrored the coach in Any Given Sunday. Me being a young African-American actor who really hadn’t had a chance to get down before, I was willing to do whatever to learn from him. I came out whipped into shape – and with a great relationship. He taught me a lot about never settling, and that’s why I’m ready to get down again.”
Foxx said that it would be updated for a modern audience; “It would move a little faster, have more things that appeal to a younger audience. But you can’t lose, because it’s a great story.”
Regarding who would play the role of the younger woman taken under the wing of the already-successful male star, Foxx initially pursued Lauryn Hill; “We need someone who can rock on screen and make the soundtrack hot. Sixteen songs, and they have to be hits.”
“Nobody can get in touch with Lauryn. She thinks I’m a stalker. I was trying to get her interested in the thing, so I was going to her concerts. I saw her in Vegas. I saw her in Irvine, and after a while she was like, ‘You know, you’re making me nervous.'”
After giving up on Hill, Foxx then turned to wanting Aaliyah for the role, who was filming Queen of the Damned at the time; “She’s very, very talented…she’s sexy. She can sing. She can act. Right now I’d say she’s my number one choice.”
Aaliyah said to EW; “I am aware of the project. I know Jamie and think he’s a very funny and talented guy. I’d love to do a film with him, but I haven’t seen the script yet. If and when he approaches me with a movie role, I’ll certainly look at it very carefully.” Aaliyah tragically died in 2001, in a plane crash at the age of only 22. She only managed to star in two movies – Romeo Must Die (2000) and Queen of the Damned, part of Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles – which was released posthumously.
Jamie Foxx ended up not making A Star is Born, of course, but he did get double-Oscar-nominated just a few years later for his supporting role in Collateral and for his starring role in Ray (the latter of which he won).
Check out our guide to the best musicals.