A little film called A Star is Born was finally released this week, and one of the many highlights for queer moviegoers was seeing Drag Race favorites Shangela and Willam co-starring as Ally's (Lady Gaga) friends and drag sisters at fictional drag bar Bleu Bleu. Vulture published an interview this week where the two queens spill the tea on everything we want to know: just how much of their banter was ad-libbed, whose idea was it for Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper) to sign Willam's tits, and what Gaga was like on-set.
As it turns out, Shangela didn't even go to the initial audition because they were looking for a Marilyn Monroe impersonator. “Later I got an email from Lady Gaga’s camp and they were like, ‘LG heard you didn’t come in for the audition. She really wants you to audition. She wanted to see you for this role,’” she said. “I had to step away from the computer for a second, I was like, ‘LG … Lady Gaga? Oh my God.’ So I was really thrilled. Honey, I went and found me a blonde wig, I found me a white Marilyn Monroe dress and I went in and sang ‘I Wanna Be Loved By You’ for the role. I was black Marilyn.”
Willam revealed that she her Dolly Parton came from her own closet. “The night before [the production department] said, ‘Can you do Dolly?’ I said, ‘I got the tits for it, sure,’” she explained. “They were like, ‘Bradley wants you in white.’ I said, ‘Okay. Well I have a white dress at home, that’s perfect.’ My husband literally went to my production space where I keep all my drag, picked up the dress and the shoes and then brought it to the set. It was a perfect ’80s Dolly look that randomly I just had laying around and it was white. Then I took their wig and then stacked my wig on top of it because the higher the hair, the closer to God.”
For the dressing room scenes at Bleu Bleu, the queens ad-libbed most of their dialogue, including Willam asking Maine to sign her breast plate. “Bradley just said, “Go off and do your thing,’” said Willam. “[Cooper] told us, ‘Jackson’s gonna come in the dressing room, and just act like [it’s] a normal drag dressing room.’ I was like, ‘Well, I’m going to be a cheeseball because this guy’s one of the most famous rock stars in the world, and I’m a Dolly Parton guitar-playing drag queen, so what would I do if Willie Nelson came into the bar? I would be like, sign my tits, dude.’”
Shangela revealed that Gaga was extremely down-to-earth during production. “When they said, ‘We’re going to switch cameras around. You guys have a moment,’ she could have left. She didn’t. She stayed right in that seat and was like, ‘So Shan, what’s going on?’ And I’m like, ‘Let’s do it.’”