Lady Gaga on Variety Talking About A Star is Born

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A Star is Born

Gaga reflects on the cultural impact of “A Star Is Born,” she looks at the film through the eyes of her fans. It means a lot to her that they’ve championed this project. “I only want to win now,” she says, speaking metaphorically, “because I want that kid who feels like me, that misfit or outcast that didn’t belong, to win. The reward for me is that this movie is a win for them.”

Lady Gaga can’t shake her character from “A Star Is Born.” And she doesn’t want to. “I feel Ally inside of me,” Gaga says of the rising musical icon she plays in the film. “I wonder how long she’ll stay. Or if she’ll be in there forever.”

Gaga poses with the shirt’s sleeves rolled up, its untucked edges falling just above her knees, revealing a tattoo of a unicorn on her left thigh. At one point, she balances on a wobbly stool in black suede knee-high boots with stiletto heels, performing a series of jaw-dropping acrobatic maneuvers. She even re-creates a moment from the film where her character traces the shape of her too-big nose. At the end of the shoot, Gaga makes a surprising confession. As she looks at the shots on a computer screen, she can’t recall the last time she saw a photograph of herself and didn’t see sadness in her eyes. These pictures are different. “And that makes me happy,” she says, tearing up.

Lady Gaga

“This has been a very transformative time for me,” says Gaga about “A Star Is Born,” a life-changing journey punctuated by bursts of excitement and doubt. “As an artist, there’s always a feeling of ‘Am I good enough? Am I making something honest? Am I making something true?’ There is a sort of stagnant sadness in me, wondering if I’m enough. Today I did not see that. I saw something different. I saw a clarity. I saw a truth.”

Yes, there have been other film offers. But she hasn’t been reading too many scripts. The last few weeks of her life have reminded her of the time after the release of 2009’s “The Fame Monster,” the album that cemented her status as an artist who could sell out stadiums around the world. “This feels for me very much like that, but in a different way, because I have all the wisdom slash pain and betrayal of the last 10 years,” Gaga says. “Look, from the outside in, I think people think it’s all champagne and roses for us. ‘Us’ meaning the collective artists slash celebrities.” She pauses for a split second. “I don’t like the word ‘celebrity,’ because to me it negates my artistry. There’s a lot of pain you go through. Everything changes. Your whole life changes.”

For most of her career, Gaga has been a larger-than-life presence, hiding behind masks and motifs tied to her album releases. Like Madonna, her most natural predecessor, she embraces and abandons personas with each new song, from “Bad Romance” (and that meat dress) to “Million Reasons” (with a pink pantsuit and cowgirl hat). But who is Gaga? “A Star Is Born” pre­sents a more intimate look at the artist stripped of her armor.

Lady Gaga

Gaga swiped several souvenirs from the set. She’s the owner of Ally’s songbook and a bottle of Mr. Bubble from a bathtub love scene, in addition to Jackson’s shirt. “I just wanted to have a piece of him with me,” says Gaga, who is engaged to talent agent Christian Carino. “This is very precious to me. These are heirlooms, or they will be heirlooms one day. They are things I will want to show my little girl or little boy and say, ‘Here they are. You can touch them.’ I want them to have a close, tangible, poetic experience with the film the way I have.”

The idea of remaking “A Star Is Born” had been kicked around at Warner Bros. since the ’90s. “Anytime a big pop star broke, we would talk about it,” says producer Bill Gerber. “Hey, should we do ‘A Star Is Born’ with Lauryn Hill or Aaliyah? Whitney Houston had been talked about way back when.” In 2011, it looked like there would be some movement. Clint Eastwood was briefly attached to direct, with Beyoncé in talks to star with Cooper. The deal didn’t come together, but in 2014, Cooper started eyeing the project as his directorial debut.