Stefani Germanotta has juggled a couple of different names throughout her life: Stef, Mother Monster, and, of course, Lady Gaga. But when it came time to star as Harley Quinn in Todd Phillips’ sequel to Joker, she wanted to use a completely different alias, according to cinematographer Larry Sher.
Sher was a guest on a recent episode of The Trenches TALK podcast to chat about Joker: Folie à Deux and Gaga’s on-set demeanor. Noting the pop star-turned actress’ “method” tendencies, Sher explained that he had a difficult time connecting with her at first.
“Strangely, I felt like I never even met her, even during the Makeup and hair tests,” he said. “Maybe it was my philosophy of not trying to get in their space. I remember for a week, being like, ‘God, I feel like we are disconnecting. Not even connecting. We are like on opposites.’ And I would say to my crew, ‘Jesus, I can’t, like, crack it. She either hates me or we hate each other. There’s something weird going on here.’”
Turns out, Gaga was just trying to stay in character on set, a notably more difficult task when you’re being called by your legal first name: “I barely said anything, except I would say, ‘Stefani, this is where your second team was, minor little things,’” Sher said. “And then the AD at one point said, ‘Oh you know, Stef would like if you just called her Lee on set.
“The next thing I said, was something ‘Lee,’ and it was like everything changed. From that point on, it was like she was… our whole connection changed. I was like, all right, cool.”
Sher didn’t explain why “Lee” was Gaga’s name of choice, but we’d guess it stems from her character’s name. Either way, you can watch Sher’s full interview below; his comments above begin around the 32-minute mark.
Joker: Folie à Deux is scheduled to premiere on October 4th, 2024, and it has pretty big shoes to fill. Phillips’ first Joker became the most profitable comic book movie of all time (and the highest-grossing R-rated movie ever), leading to Warner Bros. to fast-track a sequel with Joaquin Phoenix and screenwriter Scott Silver returning.