Lady Gaga hugged me. There are a million ways I could start this story about Gaga's new film A Star is Born, but none will convey how special this compassionate spirit is in person then telling you that we got choked up talking about the "family" that was formed on the set -- a credit she gives entirely to director Bradley Cooper -- and the impact that the movie is having on those who have seen it, all will have on all that see it soon. And she hugged me. But before that, we talked. At length. About the backstory for her character, Ally, a shy songwriter who gets a break at stardom. About her director. About drag (naturally). And she explained how she stopped being Lady Gaga for A Star Is Born, a process that wasn't as easy as it sounds. Gaga told CinemaBlend:
Transforming into Ally was so different from who I was when I started my career. I just really believed in myself and knew I was going to make this happen. I was running around New York City, just banging down doors, singing my ass off as much as I could, just trying to speak my truth and tell my story and I believed I was going to make it. And if I was not sitting here at this round table with you right now with these incredibly talented people, I would still be in a bar in New York singing.
But Ally has completely given up on herself. So, you know, taking my makeup off, having my natural hair color, living in that for a few months before we shot, it provides for a vulnerability that I'm not used to. And I was so lucky to have such a tremendous director that would say to me, 'All you gotta do this, trust me.' And all I had to do simply was that, was trust him and trust in the truth of the character. And Ally is very different from me. She gave up on herself. She did not believe in who she was. She didn't think that she could make it. She didn't feel beautiful. And the movie, I believe, begins to lift off because he believes in her and he loves her. And that inspires her to believe in herself.
It's true that Lady Gaga, the global sensation, and Ally -- the stage-innocent artist in A Star is Born -- walked different paths. But they both end up at the same destination. After being recognized in a drag show by the already successful Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper), Ally slowly builds her own career, even rocketing past the man who launched her, the man she loves. The movie brings a lot of attention to the steps one makes during a career to get to a place of success, and Lady Gaga explained to CinemaBlend that her past informed this character in ways even she wasn't aware of at the time of filming. She recalled to us:
I often have a vision of me when I was around 19 years old living on the Lower East Side (in Manhattan). It was just me, and this teeny tiny studio apartment with my piano and my futon. I used to wake up and I would either go to the cafe down the street to write, or I would just walk the streets of New York by myself. And I was just dreaming. And I had no idea what was in store for me. But I loved the freedom of not knowing. And I think something over the years as I've, as my career has progressed, you start to have some idea of how things are going to go, and you experience things that you've never experienced before. And I miss the innocence that I had. But I needed that for this character. And so I guess what it goes back to... it's your past that makes you who you are. But I would say that that of being alone and just being a singular artist by myself with nobody around me, no manager, no stylists, no hair and makeup. I miss that time.
She's going to be even further away from all of that in the next few months, as we expect Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper and A Star is Born to be front and center on the red carpet all the way up until Oscar evening. The movie opens in theaters on October 5, and we'll have more from our interviews in the coming days.