Lady Gaga gets all choked up (conclusion)
LOS ANGELES—In this conclusion of our two-part column on Lady Gaga, she talks about her fiancé, actor Taylor Kinney; meeting John Travolta amid the madness of filming her first sex scene on the set of “American Horror Story: Hotel”; her advocacies, including LGBT and anti-bullying; and more.
This being Hollywood, on the day Lady Gaga was filming her first bloody sex scene in “American Horror Story: Hotel,” the singer-actress, covered in fake blood, was introduced by show creator Ryan Murphy to actor John Travolta, who was in the next studio working on Ryan’s miniseries, “American Crime Story: The People v. OJ Simpson.”
The scene called for Lady Gaga and costar Matt Bomer to have sex with another pair, whom they kill with razor-sharp gloves.
“I have had so many wonderful moments,” she quipped. “It’s so funny to me that everyone keeps bringing up that sex scene because I have done about 12 now. That was my first one so I have gotten progressively more comfortable doing them. Yes, John Travolta showed up and, wow, that was strange and very exciting, as I am a big fan of his.
“But it is my job to walk on this set and to arrive prepared and not to s*** my pants.
“In that moment what was I feeling? I have learned this from Ryan. He is extremely compassionate and loving toward all of his actors, crew members, catering… He knows that everyone is a part of this and… (that an actress is there) to play her part. And he would be very disappointed with an actress who showed up on his set, who had signed a contract and agreed to do a love scene but did not want to get naked or did not want to kiss or fully be into it.
“So John Travolta or not, it’s time for me to f***ing kill these people. And I am not nearly worth my salt as an artist if I don’t fully give it my all to Ryan for having the biggest balls on TV because he hired me, having never seen me read a line. That is faith. That is trust. That is a true talent—somebody who knows they can smell it.”
She stressed her gratitude again to TV’s prolific creator. “I just thank Ryan over and over every day because I am happier now than I have ever been. I wasn’t accepted as an actress when I was younger. I was too strange and quirky. Nobody really got it. They didn’t even know what kind of role would be right for me. My nose was too big and I was a brunette. ‘You will never play the ingénue, blah, blah, blah.’ And then Ryan was like, ‘Screw ’em all, you are a star!’”
It all began with Lady Gaga herself calling Ryan and telling him that she wants to be on “American Horror Story.” She acted on her ambition to be an actress.
“I studied method acting for almost 10 years,” she said, grinning. “I studied the version that makes you roll your eyes—(Lee) Strasberg.”
Speaking of method acting, we were not sure if Lady Gaga was joking or not when she dished that she was staying in Hotel Cortez’s infamous Room 64, where many guests get more than a wake-up call.
“Believe it or not, I am actually staying in Room 64 right now,” she claimed. “I am not joking. It makes it harder for me to go home. But it’s easier for me to stay at and if you know what Room 64 means, you know where I am staying. ”
She continued, “In the morning, I try to take a hot shower. (Costar) Angela Bassett taught me that—she said try to wash it away. If I am feeling emotional, (costar) Kathy Bates told me that it would pass, but sometimes it might take a week.”
For the performer known for her iconoclastic attitude, acting has been “very liberating.” “It’s good for someone as rebellious as me to have parameters,” she explained. “I can get out of hand—things can go left very quickly. So this is kind of a safety net and a safe [place] for me to go left. Ryan will edit out what goes too far.
“In another way, it’s like I am in charge all day. When I go home, I don’t want to be on top of a man or a woman. I like to be taken. So this is a nice change of sexual position. But sometimes, if you haven’t been on the bottom for a long time, that might make you weep. So it doesn’t mean to say that it is no big deal. It is a huge deal. It’s just that I have been on top. It feels good to have someone else driving my desire.
“I am finding a million new things about myself, what I want and who I want to be but most importantly, I have actually found a place to put so much pain and anguish that I have nowhere to put. You can put it in your music but that’s not always what people want from me in my music… They want a sweet, delightful, ‘Just Dance’ kind of girl or they want ‘Bad Romance’ and that’s fine.
“I am happy to give people that but maybe with my song ‘Dope’ or some of the things I did on ‘Artpop,’ you saw a kind of dark side, wrapped up in colors. But maybe that was not always what people want to see. They want to see the perfection. Here (on ‘Hotel’), it’s the imperfection that is the win. So it’s very liberating.”
On speaking out against bullying and espousing other causes, including LGBT advocacy, she said, “I suppose that is the thing that happens. That is the big question mark with fame. Since the beginning, I have always thought to myself, if I am ever to be on a stage, whether it be in front of 5, 10 or 50,000 people, I will always be honest to my convictions as a woman and as a human being.
“I have never done anything that I didn’t want to do—meaning, I have never done anything that I didn’t think the message was powerful for young people, even if it was veiled or twisted or perhaps through some sort of ironic, satirical moment. I am always very invested in helping people who feel different, to feel not alone. Because I grew up feeling so alone, but then I come to a set like this and spend all day with Ryan and such brilliant actors.
“This is something that I have always been interested in and when I am here, it’s about expressing that same type of strength.” Laughing, she said, “It’s just in a twisted way.”
The passion to reach out to people, especially young fans, comes from her own background. “I did feel very isolated as a young person and not because I was alone or abandoned by my family. It’s just a chemical thing that some kids are born with. We don’t know why we feel lonely. It’s not because someone neglected me. And it’s not because [I was] abused? Yes, not by my family—that happened later. I am talking about just depression.
“I have always felt some sort of need to help [them]… It is something that not everyone understands. I grew up with a tremendous amount of depression that is hereditary. And I am Catholic and Italian. So that means that medication, therapy, doctors and mental well-being being related to something real is not really in the cards.
“As I got older and isolated myself, it was art and music that gave me freedom. I feel like through creativity and imagination, they (the depressed) can become whatever they choose to be.”
The multihyphenate exhibited musical promise at a young age. “I played piano when I was four,” she volunteered. “I sat down and I started to play it. Did my parents then say to me that we are giving you lessons? Yes. And when I tried to stop playing, they said, ‘You can sit there for an hour and practice or you can sit there for two and not practice.’ I grew up in a very disciplined household.”
On what upsets her, she said, “I am irate with people who are cruel… One of the people I think about most often is (antigay Russian leader) Vladimir Putin. I don’t understand people who [use their voice] for evil. I watch society today—people bitching and moaning at each other over the Internet. It feels stupid, unimportant and shallow, totally missing the point.”
Asked to describe her room in her house, Lady Gaga turned playful and quipped, “Which room? I am a gypsy, darling.” What about her closet? “I have several of those as well,” she said and then added, “What is my room? Right now, it is my script and my broken heart—that is my room.”
The woman whose full real name is Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta laughed as she revealed how she is called by family and friends.
“I get called Gaga all the time and I respond to it as if it were my real name. I appreciate it as my real name. I also respond to Stephanie, Steph and Stefie. My father calls me Loopy and my lover calls me Babe.”
She talked about the lover and fiancé, who is actor Taylor Kinney: “Our connection is spiritual. It’s like I was a lioness in a field and I simply was looked at by a very brave lion. It takes a very strong man to be able to accept, put up with and feel big around all of this.
“But I feel and know that when you meet some people, it’s like, I was put here to take care of you. That is how I feel about love. I used to think that other than my father, there would be no man who was strong enough to take care of me—and then I met Taylor. ”
Lady Gaga emphasized that her fiancé has been a big help in her acting foray. “I just spent two hours on the phone with him the other morning because I was having a hard time with a scene,” she related. “It’s very emotional. I go home at night and I don’t feel well. I am not able to be present with him always in the moment because I am still on the set. What a strong man who can say to you, ‘Welcome to the club.’”
On fashion, she said, “The clothes used to be, and still are, an expression of personal freedom, of how I am feeling. If it looks insane, I am probably feeling insane. If it looks classic, I’m probably feeling very centered and classic.
“It’s probably literal in a way. It’s always funny to me when people say, ‘I don’t get it.’ I am like, ‘What’s not to get? I stand here looking ridiculous. I feel ridiculous. You get that.’
“It became a cage when people were unable to see me through it. Because they expected of me like, that is all she is? Or it’s just a show. Or the mask is the art, period.
“I am sure you see from the other actors, performers and other people who dress up—it doesn’t feel like it does with me. Because there is something behind it. There’s a lifestyle I have been living like a glamorous groupie from the 1970s since I was 18 years old. That’s a part of me. So yes, it became a cage and I had to take it back.
“But I am quite good at that and I have taken it back a few times. I have been signed and dropped, used and all of that. It hurts and I survived.”
Told that for someone who is only 29, she is wise beyond her years, Lady Gaga laughed, “It’s The Countess (talking). I just did a scene.”
(E-mail the columnist at [email protected] Follow him at http://twitter.com/nepalesruben.)
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