Take my word for it. Lady Gaga on screen in A Star Is Born is positively luminous, especially in scenes where she wears no makeup.
The camera loves her, and so will audiences.
At her press conference in Toronto, Canada, however, she favours an austere look, her hair bobbed and dyed blonde.
During the Q&A, the 32-year-old singer becomes quite emotional, twice needing to wipe her eyes.
In this the third remake of the Hollywood classic, she co-stars opposite Bradley Cooper, who also directed the film.
When I asked if she read my Star2 article which appeared in October 2015, she surprises me with a kiss.
No tears this time.
The role of Ally in A Star Is Born must be a dream come true for you. What were your fears going into production?
The challenge I had to face was being completely vulnerable for most of the film.
I wore no makeup, which was something that was very important to Bradley. He was able to pull a vulnerability out of me that I might not have been able to pull out by myself. And he made me feel so comfortable.
What makes him so incredible as a director, is that he is laser focused. I learned so much from him. He’s just incredible at what he does. Initially I was afraid, but then when you get into the water with somebody who is really good at treading water, that’s when we hit light speed.
How was your first meeting with him?
I met Bradley at my house in California, and the second I saw his eyes, we had an instant connection. And before I knew it, I was feeding him leftover pasta.
He’s Italian, we are both from the East Coast, so we had just an instant synergy.
And shortly after that, he asked me if I would sing with him, a song called Midnight Special.
So, I quickly printed out the sheet music, and I played piano with him.
As I began to play, he started to sing, and I stopped immediately, and I said, “Oh my gosh, Bradley, you have an incredible voice.”
How important is having an acting career to you?
When I am Gaga in concert, I am not acting so it is very important me. When I started out, I studied method acting for almost 10 years. I studied Strasberg. Strasberg is arguably the most dangerous form of method acting; it’s where you embrace becoming the character and you call upon sensory memories. It is so powerful, it takes you back to a place that you remember as a child.
It was never important to me that I was in control of the art. What is important is that I allow the art to be in control of me.
And that’s why I like being an actress, because I am simply here to serve the giver.
Can you talk about your Italian heritage?
My father’s sister died when she was 19 years old; he was 15. I never knew her, but something about him losing her very early in his life and not knowing she was sick – she had lupus; it really destroyed him, and it destroyed my grandparents.
My grandparents came on a boat from Sicily. My grandfather was a shoemaker. The other side of my family is from Venice; that grandpa worked in insurance.
So, I have a fighting ambition within me to transgress the limitations of their economic status. My family worked their way from nothing.
My parents lost their jobs after Sept 11, and we had to start all over. So, I feel like whatever was taken from my family is being given back to them through me.
You have a new album coming out. What direction will it take?
I cannot tell you that because I want it to be a surprise.
But I will tell you that the soundtrack to A Star Is Born has even more music than in the film. And it will be a nice complement to the film; it gives you longer versions of the songs (you hear in the film).
And there are also duets Bradley and I did other than Shallow which is the one you see in the film.
What does being a star mean to you?
To me, being a star means having courage. The courage of the human spirit, which means bravery, compassion, understanding. That is what makes a real star.
Do you feel like a star?
I am truly just a human being like everyone else. I am not here to be a star. I am here to have a voice, just like (in the film) Jack says to Ally, “What’s important is to be authentic and to be yourself.”
What are your dreams?
I have dreams of being a mother one day. I have dreams of having a family, and I have dreams of doing more films and making more music.
But right now I am very happy. I am not obsessed with career. I am inspired because somebody believed in me.
A hundred people can be in a room and 99 people don’t believe in you, but if one person believes in you, your whole career can take off. So, I am just incredibly grateful to be here.
The movie ends unhappily. What can you do to avoid that happening in your own life?
What I think is important is that we take care of each other and that we nourish one another.
And it’s especially important for artistes where fame happens very quickly. There were times in my career early on, where I wish there was someone to help nourish me psychologically, because when you become famous, everything changes, your whole life changes; you are no longer just a free being, and in many ways you belong to the world.
I have a foundation called The Born This Way Foundation, and we focus on empowering youth with kindness and bravery. It is very important that we look out for one another and pay attention when people are suffering. Because sometimes when people are suffering, they don’t even know they are, because it is so deep.
What helped you to overcome your suffering?
People who nourished me, who paid attention and validated my feelings. So many people say, “You asked for it, you wanted to be a singer, you wanted to be a star, you asked for it.”
It’s almost like a blaming. But I don’t believe that. Ever since I was a small child I wanted to be a singer and an actress, it was something deep inside me.
Luckily, I was able to take all the pain and all of the despair, all of the memories of betrayal or letdowns, and I was able to put it somewhere where it could help people.
So, if I can make one person feel stronger or feel understood or moved to understand, that is my role.