Lady Gaga on Sunday urged Hollywood and the entertainment industry to intervene early to rescue artists struggling with substance abuse and other mental health issues as they pursue fame and fortune.
“I think that would be wonderful, not just for artists, but the whole world, if we intervene early in life when we see people struggling,” Gaga told a press conference at the Toronto International Film Festival for Warner Bros.’ A Star Is Born remake.
Gaga, who goes by her legal name Stefani Germanotta in the film’s credits, plays an up-and-coming starlet, Ally, who struggles to break into the entertainment world with guidance from an industry veteran, Jackson, played by Bradley Cooper, who is on the way down.
“Fame is very unnatural. And we see that Jack is struggling is this film. There’s substance abuse, there’s trauma. Ally also, for me, is struggling from depression at the beginning of the film, in not believing in herself,” Gaga said. She added that successful artists are not so much transformed by fame, as they see everyone around them change as it dawns on them.
“The truth is, people think we change. It’s not us that change, it’s everyone around us who changes,” Gaga insisted. She is best known for her pop music career, but has been involved in both film and TV projects in recent years.
Gaga starred on American Horror Story: Hotel, the anthology FX series from Ryan Murphy. “I just feel lucky to be here. I’m an East Coast Italian-American from New York who dreamed of being an actress, and I didn’t make it, and so I gave up and pursued singing,” she said, before paying tribute to Cooper, who makes his directorial debut with A Star is Born, for having faith in her acting skills.
That faith was apparently mutual, and quickly established when Gaga and Cooper first sat down to discuss partnering on the remake. “So much of our relationship reflects from Ally and Jackson. She really gave me the confidence. We were singing 10 minutes into our first meeting,” Cooper recalled during the presser.
“And I was freaking out over his voice — it was really good,” Gaga added. For Cooper, playing a musician, while having to learn to play the guitar and piano and to sing, was daunting.
“It’s one thing to sing in the shower, It’s another to sing in front of 20,000 people, The endorphins flow and your breath is the first to go,” he recalled.
The Star Is Born remake, which bowed in Venice before screening in Toronto, also stars Sam Elliott and Andrew Dice Clay. The movie, based on the 1937 original starring Janet Gaynor and Fredric March, centers on a fading star who helps an aspiring young singer and actress find fame, even as age and alcoholism send his own career into a downward spiral.
It was subsequently remade in 1954 by director George Cukor, with Judy Garland and James Mason starring, and again in 1976, with Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson headlining.
Warner Bros.’ A Star Is Born, starring Gaga and Cooper, is set to hit theaters Oct. 5, putting it into an awards season spotlight.