One-woman powerhouse Lady Gaga is currently starring in American Horror Story: Hotel, the fifth season of the murder-themed TV show by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk. She plays Countess Elizabeth, a glamorous vampire who kills with a chainmail glove. Sex, blood and drama: so far, so Gaga.
But there’s a darker side to the character – a brooding loneliness that Gaga says she really identifies with. In talking about the series, she opened up about her own loneliness and the depression she’s felt since she was young.
Here’s what she had to say.
Do you feel a close connection to your character, the Countess?
In my own life, I’m a gypsy. I don’t feel I have a fixed home or a fixed identity and I feel very comfortable doing this series.
Playing this role is a very emotional experience for me and I spend half the day crying and feeling the pain of this woman who has spent a hundred years suffering and feeling tormented.
Why is acting so important to you when you’ve achieved so much success as a musician?
Acting is about digging inside yourself and searching for the emotions and memories that often take you back to your childhood. It’s a fascinating process but it can also be very difficult and dangerous. I’ve always been drawn to acting and I studied at Strasberg – it’s something I have a natural affinity for.
What drives Countess Elizabeth?
She’s on a journey of survival. She needs to drink blood to survive and stay young. She also has a deep need for sex and freedom and attention that adds to this relentless energy of hers.
Have your own struggles with depression made you feel a greater affinity for the lonely female vampire?
I understand her loneliness and sense of isolation.
I come from a strict Catholic family and I often felt lonely and depressed when I was growing up. It had nothing to do with my parents – it’s just my brain chemistry, although it’s probably hereditary. I spent a lot of time seeing doctors and taking different kinds of drugs to treat my depression.
As I grew older, I found a way to release myself from those darker thoughts through music. Music was my way of overcoming a lot of pain and anxiety. If you give yourself to your creativity and imagination, it can help you overcome almost anything and really enable you to feel free and powerful.
You seem to be in a much better frame of mind now.
Ryan (Murphy) has become very important in my life. I trust Ryan and he’s allowed me to be able to find myself again and get past my fears and anxieties. It’s taken me time to get myself back to a healthier place again.
I feel happier than ever now and that’s because of Ryan and the other people who I’ve been working with who have been so kind and generous and accepting of me. I’ve been able to bond with the other cast members and they’ve made me feel very normal and comfortable. People always expect me or want me to be wild. But now I just want to be a normal girl!
If being Lady Gaga is normal, then we’d like to be normal, please. Rock on, Countess.
Main image: Shutterstock