Stars are born in Los Angeles all day, every day. Well, not really, but you can’t fault those for trying, by arriving here from all corners of the world since D. W. Griffith found the sleepy hamlet of Hollywood in 1910 and thought to himself “Hmmm—we could make a few movies here…”
When Bradley Cooper decided to tackle the remake of A Star Is Born, the location for the film should have been a no-brainer: Los Angeles, the quintessential city of showbiz dreams, both realized and broken. Yet, the Lady Gaga-starring 2018 movie does not actually feel like an LA movie.
A 2019 Oscar winner for Best Original Song, A Star Is Born deliberately fudges both the timeline and the protagonists’ whereabouts, perhaps mirroring the hazy, dream-like quality of this cautionary tale about self-medication, self-neglect, codependence and tinnitus. At several points the film seems shot through a 70s era yellow lens, the polar opposite of LA's current iconic, crisp blue sky.
SPOILER ALERT: Stop reading here if you haven’t seen the film and don’t want important plot points revealed. Or if you have not been exposed to the (at least) three previous versions of the exact same story, or countless clichéd spins on it, or parodies of it. (The Simpsons did not one, but THREE riffs on the title—“A Star Is Torn,” “A Star Is Born Again,” and “A Star Is Burns”!)
Regardless of the unusually hazy light or the fuzzy timeline and locations, the most memorable moments of A Star Is Born take place in Los Angeles - from Jackson Maine (Cooper) and Ally (Gaga)’s lengthy first date, to the duo’s performance of legit showstopper “Shallow,” to the unraveling of their relationship and the tragic ending (we told you there’d be spoilers).
Come then, on a tour of A Star Is Born Los Angeles locations, including places where the film was actually shot and the local joints where you can create your own A Star Is Born experience.
The Virgil & The Offbeat
After a short Jackson Maine concert scene (more about those later), Jackson meets Ally at a drag bar. (Gaga’s Ally is one word, like Madonna or Halsey, and pronounced like “Allie” instead of the singular of “allies.”) The location used for the lip-synching drag show is none other than The Virgil (4519 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles 90029), the popular East Hollywood bar that used to be a gay joint called the Garage a few years back, but is now best known as the epicenter of alternative stand-up comedy. Check out their weekly Monday showcase Hot Tub, emceed by Kurt Braunohler and Kristen Schaal, for some of the coolest laughs in town.
If you want an actual drag club experience, don't miss one of the most exciting, unpredictable nights of drag in LA: Exposure at The Offbeat (6316 York Blvd, Los Angeles 90042) in Garvanza, the neighborhood between Highland Park and South Pasadena. You can also follow A Star Is Born and RuPaul’s Drag Race superstars Shangela and William on social media to see what they're up to.
The Short Stop
After seeing “her” world, Jackson (“Just call me Jack”) takes Ally to “his” kind of joint—a cop bar. The location changes to The Short Stop (1455 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles 90026), the Dodgers-fan favorite dive in Echo Park, also known to modern noir aficionados as one of the most notable cop bars in the Rampart Division. Pity that their hang doesn’t take place on a Monday, or they would have encountered the Short Stop’s glorious Motown On Mondays dance party and maybe their relationship would have gotten to a much less gloomy start.
Super A Foods
Fast forward to a quest for frozen peas, and Jack’s driver takes them grocery shopping to the Super A Foods (2925 Division St, Los Angeles 90065) supermarket in Glassell Park. It’s a strange date which turns into a seminal parking lot songwriting session. Super A employees have braced themselves for cars filled with A Star Is Born fans/glee club vets showing up to belt rowdy, a cappella versions of “Shallow” after hours.
Ally’s Family Home
The movie makes it unclear if Jack is too hammered or too gentlemanly to put the moves on Ally that first night, so as the sun rises, he takes her back to her home. As eagle-eyed fans have confirmed, Ally’s family home is a 1904-built traditional house in Angelino Heights, between Silver Lake and Echo Park (739 E Kensington Rd, Los Angeles 90026). The household is led by Ally’s dad, Lorenzo (played by shock comedian Andrew “Dice” Clay as a sort of Sopranos minor character), who is surrounded by an entourage of character actors with a similar vibe. These scenes reportedly confused people as to whether Ally lived in one of New York’s outer boroughs or New Jersey - stereotypical East Coast accents abound - but Warner Bros. confirmed the character is indeed supposed to live in Angelino Heights.
Greek Theatre & Cafe Brass Monkey
Jack’s driver convinces Ally to ditch her terrible restaurant job and fly on the singer’s private jet to his next gig, which was filmed at the Greek Theatre in Griffith Park (2700 N Vermont Ave, Los Angeles 90027; IRL it’s less than a 10-minute drive from Ally’s house) The movie sweeps the audience and Ally onto the stage for the aforementioned show-stopping rendition of “Shallow,” the Oscar, BAFTA, Golden Globe and Grammy Award-winning song that gives “I Will Always Love You” and “Rolling in the Deep” a run for their karaoke money. Gaga and Cooper's live performance of "Shallow" at the 91st Academy Awards has racked up more than 530 million views on YouTube.
Want to experience the thrill of hitting some Gaga-esque notes and awe an unsuspecting audience? Sign up to take the stage during the legendary karaoke nights at Cafe Brass Monkey (3440 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles 90010), a Koreatown favorite for more than 50 years. All you have to do is trust us.
Other concert locations in the film include the Shrine Auditorium ("I'll Never Love Again"), where Jack’s chaotic fall from grace takes place at the Grammys; DTLA’s Regent Theatre, the Forum in Inglewood, and places further afield like the Coachella and Stagecoach festivals at the Empire Polo Club in Indio, California. According to Cooper, his band shot "in eight minutes between Jamey Johnson and Willie Nelson." Jack’s washed-up performance at a pharmaceutical convention was filmed at the Palm Springs Convention Center.
Jackson Maine's Home
One of the film’s most lavish locations - and where most of the drama unravels - is Jackson Maine’s home (481 Cold Canyon Rd, Calabasas 91302) east of Malibu - officially it’s supposed to be in Topanga. The late mid-century modern, superbly 70s chic residence is an actual 1973 home in the Monte Nido neighborhood of Calabasas, designed by Douglas Rucker (who also designed a home for Kris Kristofferson, co-star of the 1976 version of A Star Is Born); and renovated by former owner Dan Meis, who also designed Crypto.com Arena (formerly known as STAPLES Center) in DTLA. As seen throughout the movie and in the understated climactic scene, the serene Post and Beam house is located on an idyllic lot surrounded by oaks.
McCabe's Guitar Shop
One of the many couple activities that Jack and Ally engage in is alt-country-rock songwriting, unlike the pop music that her smarmy British manager Rez Gavron makes her play on SNL. If you want to become a Jackson Maine-type performer - hopefully minus the alcoholism and Oxycontin addiction - the first stop should always be McCabe’s Guitar Shop (3101 Pico Blvd, Santa Monica 90405). It’s a veritable cathedral to acoustic music, with a selection of instruments from the very affordable to the seriously collectible, plus showcases, lessons, and the chance to rub elbows with Southern California’s classic rock royalty. If they play guitar and live in LA, odds are they’re McCabe’s patrons.
As Ally gets ready in her hotel for one of her pop rock shows, Jack shows her the enormous “ALLY” billboard on Sunset. (The rainbow-colored movie billboard briefly became a gay Lady Gaga meme that played on the LGBTQ meaning of “ally.”)
Ally is staying, natch, at Chateau Marmont (8221 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles 90046), the faux European castle at the easternmost boundary of the legendary Sunset Strip, which is generally where people stare at Sunset Strip billboards in the movies (see Myra Breckinridge, The Doors, etc.). We don’t recommend splurging on a massive billboard, but you can still dine in the lush garden patio and ogle the stars - don't even think about snapping a photo.
Speaking of classic Hollywood lodgings: according to some accounts, the Millennium Biltmore - the luxury hotel in DTLA that opened in 1923 and is permanently intertwined with Hollywood history (the Oscars were founded at its banquet hall) - was the location for the busy kitchen where early in the film Ally holds a restaurant job that crushes her will to live and prevents her from getting to her Edith Piaf karaoke performance on time. Other hotel scenes may have been shot at The Hollywood Roosevelt.
So there you are—anyone can go from supermarket parking lots to The Greek—discover the Los Angeles A Star Is Born locations to ruthlessly rise to fame, leaving a trail of codependents behind you, and make everyone cry after the inevitable tragedy with your song about how you’ll never love again.
Once more, with feeling: “I’m off the deeeeeeeeeeeeep endddddd…”