How will Lady Gaga’s metamorphosis from singer to actress pan out at the box office?
Nobody could ever credit Lady Gaga with being a wallflower. Famously outrageous and frequently controversial, the singer is known for stealing the spotlight, such as wearing a dress made entirely of meat and hatching from an egg at a Grammy Awards show.
But when it came to shooting her first feature film, A Star Is Born, set for release on 11th October, the singer-turned-actress suddenly turned uncharacteristically shy. Treading in the same footsteps for the role as stars Barbra Streisand and Judy Garland, perhaps Gaga had a right to be intimidated.
But the reason, in effect, was much simpler: Director and co-star Bradley Cooper demanded that she take her makeup off before they started filming.
For Gaga, who has spent much of her career in costume, the unmasking was an uncomfortable moment – after all, people “don’t really know what I look like,” she noted in an interview with the Los Angeles Times.
“It put me right in the place I needed to be, because when my character talks about how
ugly she feels – that was real,” she added. “I’m so insecure. I like to preach, but I don’t always practise what I preach.”
In a seemingly loosely autobiographical story, the film follows ageing musician Jackson Maine (Cooper) as he tours with his band, living the rockstar lifestyle. All that changes when he meets Ally (Lady Gaga), a shy but budding singer. As he helps her finally get her taste of stardom, his inner demons threaten to overcome him and unbalance their relationship.
Better known for her eccentric persona and singing career, Gaga’s nerves chart a similar journey to that of her character when it comes to stepping into the spotlight.
“I was nervous, especially at the beginning, and of course you feel the pressure of living up to expectations when the stakes are pretty high,” she told luxurylondon.co.uk. “When an artist is moving into a new medium, if they have been studying and gestating like a petri dish for so long, it’s like an explosion when they finally come out.”
But if Ally’s journey to stardom resonates with Gaga, the pop star took a very different path in terms of attitude – and it’s something the movie takes a pointed look at through the lens of fame.
“I heard the word ‘no’ a lot earlier in my career, but I never gave up,” Gaga noted. “That’s the biggest difference between me and Ally. Ally has completely given up and she does not believe in herself. Once I had a record executive suggest that I get a nose job before my first single came out. But I said no. They didn’t want it to be me; I just had to hold onto my music for dear life.
“Fame is a very unnatural thing,” she added. “If you’re an artist, you have this intense relationship with your work and that’s what underlies everything. Then if you reach a certain point, everything changes around you and it’s not you who is changing but the people around you. I think artists need help adjusting to that because that’s often the biggest struggle you face, especially when you’re trying to keep evolving, not just in terms of your work but as an individual.”
Also starring: Sam Elliott, Dave Chappelle, Alec Baldwin and Andrew Dice Clay
Running time: 135 mins
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WORDS Camille Hogg