In ‘A Star is Born’, Lady Gaga has done more than prove doubters wrong; she’s erased any doubt in herself
Lady Gaga is a revelation, or so say the voiceovers on every radio and TV ad for A Star is Born, but the truth is that Lady Gaga is only a revelation to those who ignored her output for the past 10 years, or those who thought that her whole schtick was silly. The fact that Gaga is a terrific actor shouldn’t be a huge surprise to anyone who has even half-glanced at her singing career, because she has played multiple versions of herself throughout the years.
Keeping a straight face at the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards while wearing a dress made entirely out of cuts from the butcher, clambering out of an oversized egg at the 2011 Grammy Awards – a “vessel” she claimed to have lived in for three days – and then presenting Britney Spears with the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard award at the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards in the fully formed, male alter-ego guise of Jo Calderone, Gaga has only ever acted for us, doubling up as the performer and the show. Wherever she goes, she brings a big production with an even bigger delivery and that’s why she’s this week’s VBF.
A pop force to be reckoned with, the press trip for A Star is Born has shown every shade of Gaga. From inviting Vogue magazine into her Malibu home and greeting journalist Jonathan Van Meter as she walks down a staircase in a full length robe and kitten heels, wearing just a bra and thong underneath, to arriving at the film’s premiere at the Venice Film Festival in August on a speedboat with her legs crossed over the edge, kitted out in stilettos and peroxide blonde hair pulled back into pin-up curls, Gaga takes a gritty movie and gives it glamour from the outset. For her entire career, she has been dishing out nods and winks – although, sometimes not as subtly as she thinks – to her core audience and baffling those who don’t get her at all. Knowing that some people would doubt her abilities as an actor, she came in like Hollywood royalty on that boat and within the first few scenes of the movie, the doubters were proven wrong.
As Ally, Gaga has erased any doubt in herself as an artist. Her last two albums, the country-pop Joanne
(2016) and the brilliantly mad, shamefully underrated Artpop
(2013), were met with middling reviews and sales, and she hasn’t had a number one single in the US, the UK or Ireland since 2011’s LGBT anthem Born This Way. But that’s not to say that Gaga’s career went stagnant, it’s just that when she first exploded into our lives, she took over the world.
In April this year, Gaga’s debut single Just Dance celebrated its 10th birthday. Four solo albums, three Brit Awards, six Grammy awards, seven Billboard Music Awards, 13 MTV Video Music Awards (seven awards for 2009’s Bad Romance
alone) and 21 BMI Awards later, and it’s very likely that the 32-year-old will be nominated for an Academy Award for her portrayal of Ally in Bradley Cooper’s A Star is Born,
adding to her hefty list of accolades.
An outsider and a total chameleon, Gaga’s role as a pop star is to bring the weird to the mainstream, going bigger and louder at every turn. Now as an actor, she’s understated, she’s natural and she continues to be at home in front of a camera and an attentive audience. Whatever role she decides to takes on next, either as Lady Gaga the pop star or Lady Gaga the actor, it’s bound to be something we don’t expect.