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Bradley Cooper's transformation in 'A Star Is Born' required a lot of self-tanner

While Lady Gaga wore minimal makeup for her role as Ally in A Star Is Born, Bradley Cooper’s rock-star character, Jackson Maine, required a heavy dose of self-tanner and bronzer.

The film’s lead makeup artist, Ve Neill, whose credits include Pirates of the Caribbean and Edward Scissorhands, tells Yahoo Lifestyle that she and Cooper agreed to transform him into a “rugged, tan cowboy” for the film. “I’ve always had an affinity for doing men’s looks, and I love the westerns — I’m a western fan, and that whole cowboy theme played out, since he was supposed to be a country-western rocker.”

To get Cooper into character, Neill says, “I would have him get a spray tan every other week, but I used Vita Liberata pHenomenal 2-3 Week Tan Mousse [$54] on him every day.” The makeup pro mixed the sunless tanner with Epicuren Kukui Coconut Moisturizer ($15) to get the perfect shade of cowboy tan. “It would build up as the week went on, and he always had a nice smell. He looked rugged but smelled good!”

In the scenes where Cooper is shirtless, viewers may wonder how his character, a drug-abusing alcoholic, could have such a chiseled set of abs. The answer: It was all natural, no Hollywood magic or body double. “He would sit in my chair with his shirt off, and I would tan his entire torso, arms, chest — I didn’t even have to contour anything,” says Neill.

Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures
Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures

She also reveals that getting Cooper to look “really messed up” required a little bit of makeup magic. “I darkened around his eyes using Glazing Gels from Premiere Products. The gray-green shade looked gray on him and made him look very tired,” she explains. “On days when he was really supposed to look bad, I used those same gels on his bottom lash line and all over the lid in the red color, so he really looked damaged.” She also layered an old shadow from Mac called Ashbury over the gels at the lash line to finish off the ashy look.

When it came to close-ups, Neill used menthol to make over Cooper’s Windex-blue eyes. “I also used a menthol blower in his eyes a lot to create that glassy-eyed effect,” she says. “Anytime you see a close-up, I likely blew menthol in his eyes to give him that look, which also made his eyes look bloodshot.” Looking haggard on camera isn’t easy, but a rock-star tan isn’t complete without a scruffy beard and greased-up hair. “His hair is much lighter normally, so I darkened his beard and his eyebrows using Make Up For Ever Aqua Brow [$23] in number 30 and 40 for a richer look but kept his gray hairs.”

As for those noticeable wrinkles and the leathery skin, Neill reveals that all it took was a bit of extra bronzer courtesy of a matte Tom Ford Bronzing Powder ($70). “I would have him scrunch his face, and I would stipple the bronzer on high points like the bridge of his nose, the top of his nose, his crow’s-feet, and on top of his brows to give him that extra sunny, baked look that made his fine lines more pronounced.”

“The leather jacket, the greasy hair, the tan and his nice sheen — I used Alba Botanica Clear Spray Sunscreen [$10] — it just made him look very sexy,” she adds. Cooper’s extensive tanning and makeup transformation didn’t take hours on end, says Neill. “It didn’t take long; I’m fast — about half an hour.”

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