She may only stand Five Foot Two, but Lady Gaga towered over the Venice Film Festival as she discussed her acting debut in Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut, A Star Is Born, during a Friday press conference.
The pop superstar takes her place alongside such singing/acting legends as Barbra Streisand and Judy Garland, both of whom starred in previous renditions of the oft-told story of a declining singer who helps a rising star find fame, from 1976 and 1954, respectively.
If the response at the press screening in Venice is any indication, Lady Gaga and Cooper have also put themselves, and A Star Is Born, into prime contention for awards season.
The Grammy-winning pop icon and the Oscar-nominated actor heaped praise on each other for their mutual support and encouragement in the making of the movie. Gaga noted that it was a first-time experience for both of them, as she had never acted before and Cooper had never directed, much less performed live in front of a concert audience, as he does in A Star Is Born.
“He’s such an amazing singer — he sings from his gut, from the nectar, from his soul,” Gaga said of her co-star. “What I loved so much about working with Bradley is we had a true exchange. He accepted me as an actress, and I accepted him as a musician.”
Gaga said Cooper had allowed her to “live my dream” by casting her in the lead. “I always wanted to be an actress, and there can be 100 people in the room and 99 don’t believe in you. You just need one to believe in you, and that was him. So I’m very lucky to be here.”
Her biggest challenge playing Ally, the young singer discovered by Cooper’s alcoholic rock star Jackson Maine, Gaga said, was “being completely vulnerable and completely bare.” She explained: “Most of the film, I have no makeup on my face. At the beginning of my career, I always liked to transform, to shape-shift and become different characters, that’s part of my artwork and part of my music. But Bradley really wanted to see me with nothing.”
She continued: “I remember when I did the first screen test for A Star Is Born. I walked out of my house, and Bradley was there with a makeup wipe and he wiped it over and said: ‘I want no makeup on your face.’ This vulnerability is something he brought out in me [especially] for someone who doesn’t necessarily feel safe to be vulnerable all the time.”
Like her character Ally, Gaga said, early in her career in music, she was also told how to dress and how to act and had people in the industry question whether she was attractive enough to be a star. Unlike Ally, however, Gaga said she never gave up on herself.
“I never wanted to be sexy like other women, I never wanted to be viewed like other women. I wanted to be my own artist and have my own vision,” Gaga recounted. “When I started in the music industry and wanted to be a singer, I was 19, and I hit the ground running, dragging my piano from dive bar to dive bar,” she continued. “I really believed in myself. And Ally doesn’t believe in herself at first, it’s her relationship with Jack and their love for each other that makes her believe in herself.”
Cooper, who also produced and co-wrote A Star Is Born, said he immediately clicked with Gaga. “We sang together for the first time, literally like 20 minutes after we just met,” he said. “When you see an artist of that caliber treat you like a peer, it’s very empowering.”
Following its world premiere in Venice, A Star Is Born heads to the Toronto Film Festival. Warner Bros. will release the movie worldwide in October.
.@LadyGaga on #AStarIsBorn director, Bradley Cooper: “I always wanted to be an actress, and there can be 100 people in the room and 99 don’t believe in you. You just need one to believe in you, and that was him.” https://t.co/LhBz2oQcyU pic.twitter.com/FMVFD2Fs5i
— Hollywood Reporter (@THR) August 31, 2018