It is not out of the realm of possibility that when the 2019 Oscars are handed out, Lady Gaga could win. A pop-star-turned-actress at whom Hollywood initially turned up its nose and then, not too long after, deemed worthy of its highest honor.
Similar accolades for Gaga have already begun to trickle out. The New Yorker singled out her performance in A Star Is Born as the one part of the film that “does linger.” The New York Times said that her “disarming, naturalistic presence is crucial to the movie’s force.” Yes, that Lady Gaga, the Artist Formerly Known as the Woman in the Meat Dress.
By now you probably know the story of A Star Is Born, that American fairytale told and retold by George Cukor and Frank Pierson, by Janet Gaynor, Fredric March, Judy Garland, and Barbra Streisand: An aging, troubled star takes a younger female hopeful under his wing, and before long—and to the detriment of their romantic relationship—she’s flying higher than he is. In Bradley Cooper’s version, Ally’s ascent comes after she’s “gone pop,” ditched her piano, hired dancers, and dyed her earth-toned hair neon-bright. A Star Is Born is at once emotionally operatic escapist entertainment and—almost paradoxically and at times maybe even in spite of itself—a movie so dizzyingly meta that it leaves your head spinning for days. In Toronto we had the opportunity to talk to Gaga about her career, her role and her passion for Spanish culture
Q: What it means to work with Bradley Cooper in a Star is Born?
A: This movie has changed my life and not just for shooting it, but for working with Bradley Cooper. He is a consummate professional and it would be fair to say that he is an incredible director. During filming I felt privileged, because every day I could see Bradley working with the precision of a ninja. His vision has been that of the whole team, he has infected us with his passion and it has been a liberation for me, as an artist
Q: Are you leaving your dreams?
A: I am a simple girl from New York who from her childhood dreamed of being an actress. I have met hundreds of people who did not believe in me, but I only needed one, Bradley Cooper, to make my dream come true. Her talent has allowed me to carry out my dream and I will always be grateful to him for becoming the first actress to work with him as director
Q: Why did you want to play the fourth version of Star is Born?
A: Bradley is the reason why I decided to shoot the film, from the moment he came to my house and I opened the door I felt an instant connection with him. We are both from the east coast, the two of Italian origin for that, and without realizing it, a few minutes later we were in the kitchen overheating food and talking about our things. Then he asked me to sing Midnight Special and I started to play it on the piano. To my surprise, he started singing and I stopped playing. Bradley surprised me with his voice. Many can do acrobatics with their throats, but Bradley sings from within, he tells you a story with his voice. If I'm in this film, it's because I was touched by his voice
Q: Are you planning to keep on acting?
A: This has been the most incredible experience of my entire career. Of course, I am interested in continuing acting but it will be difficult to find a script that is up to this film. The best part about making this movie is working with Bradley. He’s such a genius and an incredibly, hard-working, focused, ninja-like human being. We’ve become such great friends. It’s tremendous to work with him all the time on the project. He’s very inspiring. History shows us that in times of people feeling like they need some sort of rebellion or protests; the artists rise because the poetry we create about pain and its relationship to culture in the world begins to soothe and heal people who are feeling confused or afraid. Art is going to make a bigger comeback than ever. That’s the upside to things getting challenging.
Q: I Heard that you speak Spanish
A: Yes, I do. I happen to speak three languages and I feel very proud
Q: What is your relationship with the Spanish culture
A: I love it. I love to cook Spanish food, dress with Spanish designers as Amaya Arzuaga o Juan Vidal and read poetry from Garcia Lorca. I love poetry
Q: Fame can be very unnatural
A: I think we should intervene before seeing people fall into an addiction. When we see that there is an internal struggle. We must be more careful with the human spirit, more kind, show more empathy. Listen and see, look around to discover who suffers. Fame can be something unnatural. I think it is important that artists seek psychological help when they are beginning to break out because everything changes around you and it is not always easy to face this situation. We the artists are not the ones who change, it is the people around us that change.
Q: Was it comfortable to allow the cameras to enter your life?
A: When you have a cineaste who respects your space, it is more welcome into my life
Q: At times do you seem uncomfortable?
A: I knew that the cameras were present, I was very aware of their presence, especially the first day, when I came to question whether I really needed to make a documentary about my life. But once I took the step, I got used to the cameras. I am very grateful to the director because he adapted to my dynamic. He took the trouble to know me, the truth, having the cameras in your face all day is not easy, what took me to hang myself behind giving permission. But this director is very particular, he has a way of working that caught my attention. I wanted to see the result of how he saw my life
Q: Why did you want to tell your story now?
A: It was the reaction of my friends and my family to the possibility of filming a documentary about my life. I did not feel like doing it. Until I saw it several times in the editing room I did not finish convincing myself. When my best friend told me, it was a beautiful movie, I started to feel good with the images. Then, my sister also praised it and, truthfully, it's the only thing you can expect from a film of these characteristics, that people who love you feel good to see it. I like artistic projects done with creativity that speak of experience, when you become the subject who is honored for being who you are, for whom you have no control, is very complimentary. I want to make clear that this film is not my vision of Lady Gaga, it is the vision that Chris has of me.
Q: At some point you refused to record
A: On a couple of occasions I said no. If I was in a mental state where I did not want a camera in my face, I would ask it to stop because I felt overwhelmed and needed space. My life has changed a lot in recent times, and when you are successful you live at the top, but of course there are low hours, very low hours. As an artist, it is always personal when you share your work with the world. I have my vision and I want the public to like it because I consider it a gift for them, so they can entertain themselves. That is my goal when I make a song, I want the warmth of my fans. My biggest goal in life is to make the public happy with my songs
Q: Do you respond well to criticism?
A: The truth always happens. Never make a song to everyone's taste. There will always be someone who does not like what you've done, even if it's a small group, I'm not in the business of liking everyone. I am in the business of creating fantasies, music, theater, experiences and art that, hopefully, will inspire people. The most important thing in my career has always been to send a positive message
Q: Especially in the times that we live so convulse politically and socially
A: Yes. Although I do not necessarily think so. The most important thing about the creative process is that my work is not purely commercial. In this film I teach that my life is not perfect, that my career is not perfect. I want to show that I am an authentic artist in every project in which I am involved
Q: It means with certain causes, that motivates you when you are socially involved as an artist
A: I think we all have the responsibility to speak when we face an injustice. We must all contribute, it is not only the artists who must do it. Social networks allow us to talk to everyone, it is the first time in history that human beings can be connected to a microphone to say what they want. Everyone should be using their ability to communicate to do good, not just famous people
Q: Pay attention to what it says
A: I am aware that there are many people who follow me and who listen to me, so of course I pay attention. Music is a very powerful medium, I would dare to say that it is infinitely more powerful than a tweet, or a photo on Instagram. Music has the power to heal people, there are vibrations, science, when the music sounds something happens in your body, in your spirit that does not look like anything you feel when you read something on the internet.
Q: You talk about your fibromyalgia in the movie. Did it cost you to take the step of recognizing your problem?
A: It is difficult, very difficult, but, at the same time, it is liberating. Sharing its pain has been my catharsis. Part of me believes that pain is a microphone, my pain wants to tell me something that I should transform into positive. I want those who suffer from chronic pain to understand that they are not alone, I hope that they tend a hand in search of a solution to who suffers from anxieties, from mental problems, because there is a degree of self-destruction in the process. The pain is undermining you psychologically and you end up ashamed of suffering from the disease. I want you to see me dance and act on stage, to understand that you can fight against that
Q: What do you ask the from future?
A: I'm going to take some time off. I do not know how long, and that does not mean that I will not be composing, creating new projects. I have several things on the table that I do not want to overtake. I want to slow down, reflect on my life. Everything I have achieved, everything I believe in is captured in this film.
Q: It's a way to validate yourself
A: No, I feel from what I do. This is to put the flag on Mount Everest. Now I want to dedicate myself to myself and find other challenges. It is not healthy to look for others in the personal validation. I work hard and I am proud of what I have achieved.
Q: It's Lady Gaga a character?
A: Somehow it is the perspective that others have created from Lady Gaga. Let's say I'm not her when I'm acting inside a role