A-list comedian Dave Chappelle just became the newest cast member of the latest remake of A Star Is Born. Bradley Cooper stars and makes his directorial debut in the third remake of the original 1937 classic, which tells the story of an aspiring young actress/singer who falls in love with an established star as their careers go in decidedly opposite directions. Lady Gaga will be the female lead as “Ally,” a character known in previous versions as Esther.
Neither the 1954 remake starring Judy Garland nor the second 1976 retelling starring Barbara Streisand ultimately matched the legacy of William Wellman’s 1937 original, which starred Janet Gaynor. But each of them offered slight updates for the era in which they were released, most strikingly in the ’70s rock ‘n’ roll scene depicted in the Streisand-starring version. Cooper will portray a country music star named Jackson Maine (an update to “Norman Maine” in the original) in Warner Bros.’ 2018 remake, which just made Chappelle a surprise addition to the cast.
THR reported on Friday that Chappelle will play a character named “Noodles” in the new remake of A Star Is Born, joining Cooper, Gaga (real name Stefani Germanotta), Sam Elliott, and Andrew Dice Clay as a confirmed cast member. According to the report, the character of Noodles will be Maine’s old friend who came up with him through club shows when they were aspiring musicians.
Chappelle has made a major stand-up comedy comeback in recent years after being out of the spotlight for some time, releasing two recent Netflix specials and a third expected later this year. He’s acted in one movie since 2002, Spike Lee’s 2015 drama Chi-Raq, but carved out a sneakily prolific acting career in the ’90s, well before he ever became a megastar with Chappelle’s Show. His prior credits include Robin Hood: Men In Tights, The Nutty Professor, Con-Air, and his starring debut in 1997’s Half-Baked.
A comic like Chappelle may seem like an unconventional name to be involved with a film like A Star Is Born, but his aforementioned filmography shows that he has plenty of experience under his belt. He’s acted in comedies, dramas, and action movies, but it’s likely that the role of Noodles will have at least somewhat of a comedic touch to it. As the oldest friend of the main character, Chappelle may not be in a minor role, either.
Despite the surprising casting, Chappelle is the least of Warner Bros.’ concerns with the newest edition of A Star Is Born. As the fourth version of the story, it will need to do more than make the main character a country singer to bring a fresh twist to the tale. Lady Gaga may also have a hard time remotely approaching the iconic performances of Gaynor in the 1937 original and Judy Garland in the 1954 remake. Having Cooper in the director’s chair for the first time also carries considerable risk. But Chappelle’s addition to the cast of characters certainly makes the remake more intriguing.