Lady Gaga is gracing the cover of the November issue of Elle Magazine. Read the interview below:
I still feel like I’m still a fetus,” says Lady Gaga, looking impeccably glamorous in a wide-belted black Alaïa dress, stabby heels, extravagant lashes, and dark brows, her platinum hair framing her face in soft waves. What she looks like (no doubt deliberately) is a midcentury Italian film star—Monica Vitti in some long-lost Antonioni picture, or a tiny, blond Sophia Loren. What she means is that she feels like she’s just getting started as an artist—that she’s only accomplished a fraction of what she still plans to do—but I have a hard time wrapping my head around this notion, considering the decade she’s just had.
Ten years ago, with the release of her first album, The Fame, Lady Gaga went from struggling burlesque performer and New York club kid to global pop phenomenon in what seemed like the blink of an eye. Since then, she’s put out five studio albums, one soundtrack album, and 18 singles; performed at the Super Bowl; and won six Grammys and a Golden Globe, among other things. She’s won fashion awards and collaborated with famous artists and sung duets with Tony Bennett. Two years ago, while filming a Netflix documentary about her life, Gaga: Five Foot Two, she landed the leading role in a major Hollywood movie. She would play the Janet Gaynor/Judy Garland/Barbra Streisand role in A Star Is Born, opposite Bradley Cooper. All of which is to say that if anyone inhabits a parallel universe where the bar for achievement is set so impossibly high that Lady Gaga ranks as artistically prenatal, it’s probably just Lady Gaga.
A few days after our meeting, A Star Is Born premieres at the Venice Film Festival. Lady Gaga is there in a Valentino gown adorned with billowy pink ostrich feathers. Halfway through the screening, a fluke lightning accident momentarily interrupts the film, which nonetheless goes on to get an eight-minute standing ovation and mostly rapturous reviews. In 2016, while accepting the Golden Globe award for her role in Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story: Hotel, Lady Gaga said that she’d wanted to be an actress before she wanted to be a singer, but that music had worked out first. Now that acting has worked out as well, it’s unclear what more she could do. Mars colony, maybe. Flying cars. Universal health care.
Lady Gaga has a commanding presence. She sits like an Olympic gymnast nailing a landing. Chatting with her in the kitchen of her otherworldly, six-acre Mediterranean-style estate, which features an eight-horse stable, a dressage rink, a bowling alley, a saltwater pool, and a panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean, I have the feeling that I may have temporarily crossed over into this other, extra dimension. The woman comes across as a sweetheart, but the artist is a machine. In person, she’s warm but guarded, friendly but cautious, passionate but preternaturally poised. Her house is cozy and filled with people—assistants; her manager; her mom, Cynthia, visiting from New York. (“Don’t we look alike?” Lady Gaga asks after introducing me. They really do.) The house is more traditional than you’d expect, more befitting a Stefani Germanotta (her given name) made insanely good than the pop performance artist who once wore a dress made out of meat to the MTV Video Music Awards. I mean, the French provincial sofas are draped in quilts. The fireplace is flanked by a big TV and an old Italian movie poster of A Star Is Born starring Judy Garland, a gift from Gaga’s boyfriend, CAA agent Christian Carino. It’s all slightly disorienting. We could be in a Nancy Meyers movie. Or a Star Trek episode.
A decade into her career, Lady Gaga is being born again, as a movie star, and she truly is a revelation. This might just be the most remarkable thing about A Star Is Born—that, beyond the fact that she’s unrecognizable, she feels new. Among the most notable things about her character, Ally, is how stripped down she looks, how vulnerable. Gaga has shown glimpses of this before. We’ve seen it in her hilarious Saturday Night Live sketches, her album Joanne, and her documentary, in which she appears in sweatpants.
“The character of Ally is informed by my life experience,” Lady Gaga says. “But I also wanted to make sure that she was not me. It was a cadence of both.” Ally is talented but insecure. She writes but won’t perform her own songs. She’s been dissuaded from pursuing her dreams by an industry that doesn’t believe in her, that tells her she looks wrong for the part. She reluctantly allows Jackson Maine (played by Cooper) to draw her into his world, to involve her in his music, until she meets the manager who begins her transformation into a commercial pop star.
For all Lady Gaga’s talents as a singer, songwriter, and actress, it’s her metatalent for fame—a condition she single-mindedly pursued, investigated, interrogated, and named an album, an EP, and a fragrance after—that catapulted her into global stardom. It’s on this theme, one on which the movie largely hinges, where Gaga and her fictional counterpart, Ally, diverge the most: Once Gaga made the decision to become a performer, she didn’t let anything stop her. Early in her career, she understood that Stefani Germanotta, the classically trained Catholic schoolgirl, was talented enough to be successful, but that only Lady Gaga could erupt on the global scene, fully formed.
Continue reading the full interview here