PRIDE exclusively interviewed, Willam, who plays Emerald, a drag queen that works with Gaga (Ally) in a drag bar in A Star is Born. She talks about her role in the movie, working with Lady Gaga and her favourite moments on set. Read below!
Tell us about your role in A Star Is Born.
Sure! I’m the lead of the movie. I’m kidding. But once you use drag queens in any movie, we kinda steal focus.
I work with Gaga in a drag bar. I’m one of her buddies in the movie and I make a couple appearances. It’s the biggest and best role I’ve ever had. And I have a name! My character’s name is Emerald. Sometimes I’m just like, “Drag Queen #2” or “Streetwalker.” It was really nice to have a name and all that stuff.
What was it like working with Lady Gaga?
I had met her before and it was a unique experience. The first day we didn’t get to work together much but as I was signing the call sheet to exit for the day, the AD gave me a white rose and she said, “This is from LG. She’s sorry she didn’t get to play with you today.” And I was like, “Are you kidding me, she knows who I am and she remembers me?” It was insane.
And at one point, someone was rubbing my shoulders and I turn around and it was her. And I’m like, “Girl, watch my wig.” Just like that, kiki-ing with her and talking about songs and shows and music, like all the stuff that drag queens and pop stars do, you know. If you put the circle of drag queens and the circle of pop stars together, we have a large crossover. It makes sense that we all got on like a house on fire too.
When I saw her at the premiere, it was the same way. Bobby, her manager, was like, “Did you talk to her?” And I was like, “No I don’t want to,” and he was like “No! Come here!” And as soon as she locked eyes, everybody moved.
Being in her orbit is a privilege and working with her on set and having her literally say to me, “Bradley (Cooper) likes these two jokes but flip them around this way…” It was all improv basically. Bradley gave us an outline and then just said, “Play, do what you do. You know what a drag dressing room is like more than me.” Just to have a director say that who’s also a scene partner in the scene? Just based off of a couple auditions of what he saw me do, he apparently liked me enough to hire me. It was nice to feel that trust from a director, but also that guidance from another performer without being like, “No, this is what you should do.” She’s literally on everybody’s team and it’s the greatest feeling ever as another performer to know that you’re safe in that environment. Sounds stupid and actor-y, but 20 years doing this, you have to talk seriously about it.
What was your favorite moment on set?
Shit…probably seeing the first 25 minutes of the movie. They showed us at lunch and right after, they were like, “No one has their phones out, right?”And I was like, “Noooooo. You asked that before-“[to someone else] Sup Cameron? Bye. [to PRIDE] One moment, I’m trying to get out of here because I’m on my way to the airport for a gig…
Anyway, seeing her in the movie and hearing her voice and then not knowing that I was watching her on screen too. She’s so transformative in this movie, I didn’t recognize her. No makeup, brown hair, parted down the middle. I didn’t know who I was looking at, but that’s her voice, holy shit. And it was supermarket lighting because one of the scenes is in a supermarket. She’s a chameleon and this part is so impressive because she’s been on both sides, she’s been—
Hold on. [to someone else] I’m in an interview! [back to PRIDE] I’m sorry. It connected to my Bluetooth. I’m so sorry I had to move my car and get in another car to the airport.
Where was I? Oh yeah. Knowing that she could be on both sides of each role, like the girl on the come up and the guy that’s been famous and at the top of his game for years. She had a unique perspective to bring to the role and I don’t know if anybody else could’ve brought that. She’s amazing.
I’m so excited to see this movie.
Dude, you haven’t seen it yet?
Working on getting into a screener.
Oh girl, get in one of the press screenings!
I’m working on it! Haha. Wait, so you were at the premiere at TIFF. Did you see her lift that veil? Gay Twitter had a meltdown over that moment.
Yeah, I mean, she’s her! She knows how to make a fucking entrance. Did you see her on that boat in Venice? Work bitch. The water splashing around her heels and she looks so majestic. Gorgeous! She’s Gaga! God is a Gaga!
Are you ready for this Best Picture Oscar?
Yes, I am. I’m ready to be on the carpet. I know what I’m wearing. I know what’s going to happen. This is it. This is the fun time. We worked and now we get to say thank you to all the people that love it.
It was weird seeing how much I was in the movie, I thought I was going to get a joke or two. But it turned out I got like five or six and they were belly laughs. It was crazy that Bradley just thought I was funny I guess, which was cool!