SINGER and A Star Is Born actor Lady Gaga has opened up about the heartbreaking real-life inspiration that powered one of the musical’s pivotal scenes — and a warning, there are potential spoilers for the film ahead.
As those who’ve listened to the newly released soundtrack for the movie — which hits cinemas in Australia on October 18 — will know, the closing song is a soaring power ballad called I’ll Never Love Again, performed solo by Lady Gaga.
With lyrics like “Wish I could have said goodbye / I would have broke my heart in two tryin’ to save a part of you,” it serves as the emotional climax to a film that’s already getting Oscar buzz both for Gaga and her co-star and director Bradley Cooper.
As Gaga reveals in a new interview with Apple’s Zane Lowe, filming for the musical reboot early last year came as her close friend Sonja Durham succumbed to her long battle with cancer.
“It’s very special,” Gaga says of the performance of I’ll Never Love Again, shot at Hollywood’s Shrine Auditorium.
“On that day, my friend Sonja who had been battling cancers for years, her friend called me and I could hear (Sonja) moaning in the background. And they said she’s not doing well and I thought she was dying, so I left the set.
“I can’t believe I didn’t even stop to see Bradley, and I got in my car and started driving, and I missed her by 10 minutes.”
Gaga’s voice broke as she recounted what happened in the room in the immediate aftermath of her longtime friend’s death.
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I don’t know how to put a price on a friendship. I’m not even sure how you can assess the size of its meaning, only really your heart truly knows and it’s too special for words. I feel two competing feelings. Firstly, that I will live everyday with more passion, more determination, more compassion and more giving than ever before. Because that’s who she was, and it’s what drew us to each other, and I know it’s what she always wanted for me. She had this incredible way of releasing me from the anchor of my own sadness that held me back, she loved me fearlessly while I learned how to cope with fame and stay inspired no matter how scared I was. She knew all I cared about was the music. She made that ok. The other feeling I have is that of being robbed of the last 10 years of my life, friendship and career with her. Like someone took her from us, and with that taking took all the good times. I know that’s not true, and I know that I have those memories forever, I’m just in shock that I will never have new ones with her. I’m in shock that I won’t see her again until I pass too. I vow to be a little stronger everyday for her because that’s what she would have wanted, I vow to be stronger for anyone who’s lost somebody to cancer. I’m a part of that family now. I vow to be a warrior for her and be a voice for cancer patients so the world can continue to improve the dialogue and the fight. I loved her. I still love her. And I love so much her husband Andre, stepson Sante, and friends. I made them some food yesterday. I will keep cooking. Cooking my soul until it understands this. Last thing I told her, ‘Go find Joanne, Sonj.’ Somehow I think she did. @sonjad7777 #sonjadurham #grigiogirls
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“I laid with her and her husband and stepson for a little while … then I looked her husband, her widower, in the eyes and said, ‘I don’t know what to do.’ He said, ‘You’ve gotta do what Sonja would want you to do.’ She loved being a performer and she loved working in music,” she said of Durham, who had worked as part of Gaga’s team before her illness.
Incredibly, Gaga returned to set that day — and straight into filming her performance of I’ll Never Love Again.
“She gave me a tragic gift that day, and I took it with me and went back to set, and sang that song for (Cooper’s character) Jackson, and for her. On that very same day, within an hour,” she said, praising Cooper for his handling of the situation.
“Bradley was so beautiful with me that day, he was so loving. He was like: ‘You don’t have to do it too many times, it’s OK.’ I was like, ‘All I wanna do is sing, man, just let me sing.’”