Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper and Charlie in the film
Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures
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October 02, 2018 01:20 PM

When it came time to cast A Star Is Born‘s VIP — that’s ‘very important pup’ — Bradley Cooper knew exactly where to turn.

Cooper — who wrote, directed and stars in the film, out Friday — picked his own dog, Charlie, to play the dog his character Jackson Maine has with Ally (Lady Gaga).

“There was no nepotism — I wanted this relationship with the dog,” Cooper told PEOPLE last week at the film’s Los Angeles premiere. “[Jackson and Ally] don’t have a child together but they have a dog together, and I wanted it to be part of their story. I love dogs.”

Indeed: Cooper, 43, previously had two rescue dogs, German shorthaired pointer Samson and Chow Retriever mix Charlotte, whom he once called “his kids.” Charlie holds a special place in his heart though, as he’s named for Cooper’s late father. “That meant a lot for him to be in the film,” Cooper added.

Charlie isn’t the only person (er, pet) in the film from Cooper’s inner circle; the actor revealed that “so many of the people in this movie are people I’ve known forever.” The character of Tommy is played by “Gabe Fazio, who I went to grad school with,” Cooper said. “Derek Jones. My ear doctor is the doctor in the movie, Dr. Slattery … so why not Charlie?”

Maybe because of his newfound attitude? Cooper joked that since making his big break, Charlie “has an agent. I don’t talk to him much anymore. He doesn’t return my calls. He always walks away from me unless I have food.”

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