September 14, 2018 11:47 AM

A Star Is Born is already gaining praise for Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga‘s standout performances, but it also has a deeper meaning for Cooper.

The actor is making his directorial debut with the musical, which follows him as an aging country star who helps a young singer (Gaga) get her start. This is Cooper’s first movie since welcoming daughter Lea De Seine Shayk Cooper with Russian model Irina Shayk, 32, in March 2017.

But the movie has been in his life much longer than that, and it’s the first project Cooper has slowed down for — something he attributes to his new family.

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“I spent about 15 years going from movie to movie to movie. And then I hit 39 and I stopped and I said, ‘What do I really want to do?’ I want to tell Joseph Merrick’s story in The Elephant Man. So I did that for a year,” Cooper, 43, told NPR. “Then this story came to me, A Star Is Born, and then I spent the next four years doing that. And the one thing that I know in the future is: It’s worth all the time to dedicate, even if one piece of art comes out of it in a half a decade, that would still be incredible as long as I can feel like it’s the movie I wanted to make, which is this movie.”

He continues, “So I guess having a child, and having a family of my own — which is a miracle and something I’ve always dreamt of — has opened me up even more, I guess, to the day, and to be present.”

Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga in A Star Is Born
Neal Preston/Warner Bros.

Cooper also opened up about his instant connection to costar Lady Gaga. The two have been emotionally praising each other throughout the press tour, and Copper took the opportunity once again to highlight what he loves most about the singer.

“Here’s the other thing that connected Stefani [Germanotta, Gaga’s given name] and myself right away, is that we were very, very loved as children,” he said. “And when I meet people that have had that similar upbringing, I can just see it in them. And that’s the thing I want my daughter to have — I just always want her to feel loved.”

A Star Is Born is in theaters Oct. 5.

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