A rock musician’s hearing loss is one of the plot points in Bradley Cooper’s smash hit remake of “A Star is Born.” And the actor portraying the doctor treating Cooper’s character Jackson Maine … is Cooper’s real ear doctor, Dr. William Slattery III.
The short scene amounted to “about 10 seconds of fame,” as Slattery describes it. “To shoot my scene it took probably an hour or hour and a half, because they shot it from many different angles. They have 30-45 minutes of different shots from that scene,” Slattery said via email.
Director Cooper trusted his doctor to wing it on camera. “They said that since I know this material so well they were going to rely on me for ad-libbing. Even as an expert in the hearing world, when someone sticks a camera in your face and tells you to ad-lib it’s hard.”
Slattery—who has practiced since 1993 at the Los Angeles-based House Clinic, which specializes in ear and hearing conditions—says the hearing issues portrayed in the film are common for musicians. “Unfortunately many musicians have had an experience with tinnitus; it’s a lot higher than you would think,” he said. “We’ve worked with some big artists who have had significant hearing-loss issues. These are people who if we named them, you’d know exactly who they are.”
Cooper sought Slattery’s advice while writing the script. “He was consulting me on the hearing issues and tinnitus in the movie and whether they were put in the appropriate context. That led to him asking me to be in the movie.” A week later, Slattery was ready for his closeup on the set at the Coachella music festival, with his own trailer.
His Hollywood moment included attending the Los Angeles premiere Sept. 24. “Bradley called me out personally while introducing the movie, along with the rest of the cast, which was very cool.”