How can someone as massively famous as Lady Gaga convincingly portray a struggling artist on the brink of success? This was one of the main questions Bradley Cooper and Gaga, who's won six Grammy Awards throughout her lucrative career, had to ask themselves as they explored their characters for A Star Is Born, the upcoming remake of a 1937 classic.
The first step? Break down all exterior walls, starting with her makeup. In a new profile by The Los Angeles Times, the "Poker Face" singer admitted that when she first met Cooper to feel out the role he made her wipe off her makeup to be "completely open" and without "artifice."
"It put me right in the place I needed to be, because when my character talks about how ugly she feels — that was real," Gaga said. "I'm so insecure. I like to preach, but I don't always practice what I preach."
But it took a lot more than moist towelettes for her to fully embrace her character. To get where she needed to be, she said she had to let go of her inhibitions and allow her all of her insecurities — not just physical ones — to fuel, rather than detract, her.
One instance, in particular, stood out in her memory. She and Cooper had just started going over their lines (she, of course, already had her script memorized at that point) when he surprised her with an improvised bit. Instead of going along with it ( you must, as they say, "yes, and"), she reportedly repeated the same line back.
"Finally, he said, 'Are you OK?' And then I started crying," Gaga told the LA Times. "Then I got that out of the way and then we did the scene. I had to let go of the words."
She also had to allow herself to be fully present and experience both happiness and heartbreak. Earlier this summer, Gaga told Entertainment Weekly that she filmed one powerful scene the same day her good friend Sonja Durham died of cancer.
"I literally laid with [Durham], with her husband, and their dog, and his son... When I came back, Bradley was so gentle with me and we got through it," she recalled to EW. "I performed the song. He was like, 'You don't have to do it again. It's okay.' All I ever wanted to do was sing. I'll never forget that day. It was really a special scene, and I'll always remember that moment."
According to Gaga's acting coach, Susan Batson, her commitment to providing an authentic experience onstage paid off.
"It was her first [leading role], but you would never have known it, and I think that has something to do with the fact that she's done so much performing already," Batson told the LA Times. "The Lady Gaga that the public knows? They won't see her."