August 28, 2012
Katheryn Elizabeth Hudson is the daughter of two Christian ministers who allowed only gospel music in their home. But Hudson's alter ego, 27-year-old Katy Perry, looks every inch the pop star, with her purple hair and pink ruffled dress, as she arrives at a Beverly Hills hotel suite to talk about her new movie, Katy Perry: Part of Me 3D. Perry invited two filmmakers to tag along as she circled the globe on her sellout 124-arena California Dreams Tour. The movie captures performances and real life, including a glimpse into her marriage to comedian Russell Brand at the beginning of the tour, and one painful moment depicted later when she is seen sobbing as the marriage unravels.
''There were some moments that made my tummy turn when I saw them in the final edit, because I'd already lived them and I really didn't want to live them again,'' Perry says.
''But I thought maybe if I shared that I got through the problem, other people wouldn't feel so alone in their problems. We all go through a lot of the same things and it's not about the problem but about how you solve it. The theme of the whole movie for me is about overcoming obstacles.''
Perry never met an obstacle she couldn't overcome, it seems, starting at age nine, when she taught herself to play guitar. In 2007, she landed a record deal and her first single, 2008's I Kissed a Girl, held the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 for seven weeks. She went on to become the first woman in music history to produce six No.1 singles from one album, Teenage Dream, including Firework and California Gurls.
''I think we're all blessed with gifts and I was lucky I just found out what mine was early on and have planted that seed and tried to water it every day,'' she says.
The down-to-earth performer admits that she does harbour a desire for perfection.
''What holds me up is focus and determination, and this incredible ambition that just hasn't subsided yet,'' she says.
Had you any other music films in your mind when you made that call?
I was inspired by Madonna’s documentary “Truth or Dare.” I loved her documentary and I loved seeing it, because I wasn’t exposed to anything like that, really, when I was growing up. For instance, I want to watch the first “Alien” film, because I want to see “Prometheus,” and I haven’t seen the first one. I wasn’t allowed to watch or hear or be exposed to a lot of different pop culture moments in the ‘80s and ‘90s, when I was a kid, because of my upbringing.
And you gave the filmmakers unlimited access during your California Dreams tour?
Yes, they came on the road and they shot everything—they were there for probably eight months out of the whole year, and they had over 300 hours of footage. Then, we started taking swings at the idea of making a movie and reached out to a bunch of people – it was a long process. We took it to different studios, and Paramount really latched onto the idea, and they’ve been great partners. We’re so in-synch and we wanted the same thing, and it’s been incredible. And in the movie industry, the summertime is really important. They’re putting it out on such an important weekend, and it’s very exciting – I have Christmas Eve jitters [laughs]. I’m very excited about it, and people seem to be responding to it in a very positive way.
Tell me about the decision to shoot in 3D. It works really well with the concert footage. What does it give the film?
We filmed that at the Staples Center for two nights with these new 3D cameras that hadn’t been used before—or, at least they hadn’t been used for this type of thing—and the texture is so beautiful. The slow motion shots are great – and I love that we can bring that to this type of film, because it adds some gorgeous nuances and detail. There are a lot different textures in the film that we use to tell the story, because there is a lot of backstory. Overall, I’m very happy with it, and I’m happy with the narrative.
And there is a clear narrative. It’s not just a film of you on tour; it’s a diary of your life up to this point…
Yes, the narrative is really about overcoming these obstacles of where I came from and who I wanted to be, and my personal obstacle of what I had to get through. And now, I’m still here and I’m still standing. And I think it was important to me to leave in those scenes of me in distress.
It shows too, that no matter what was going on backstage – no matter how upset you were – you still have that ‘the show must go on’ mentality….
A: You have to find a balance between being a human being and a performer. I know that it’s important for me to realise that this is a job at this level and to separate my personal life from my professional life and the fact of the matter is that we all have obstacles and problems in our lives. It would be unfair for me to press my problems on to my audience who were never there to experience that – they were there to be entertained, they were there to have a great time, they were all in costume and so I had to turn that side of me off when I went on stage.
No, it doesn’t. But it is poignant and it’s honest. But clearly you could have left those scenes out. Why did you feel it was important to include them?
Well, it’s the elephant in the room that I couldn’t avoid or ignore, because it would be ignorant of me to think I could make a complete film without even touching on it. And I’ve always wanted every choice I make to have integrity. Sometimes, that’s not the easy choice, but hopefully, what people get from this is that they don’t have to change who they are to fulfil their dreams. That’s what I believe and that’s what I’ve tried to do myself.
Is one of the messages in the film that there is a price that you pay for fame, too?
Yes, there are definitely sacrifices. But that’s part of a lot of people’s stories, whether they are famous or not. There is sacrifice. You know, heavy is the head that wears the crown. I put that in one of my songs—‘Heavy is the head that wears the crown, don’t let the greatness get you down.’ Sometimes, it can be an extreme pressure, but really, it’s an opportunity. I try and have a positive outlook.
You’ve said before that Alanis Morissette was an influence on you. Have you met her?
Yes. I hung out with Alanis the other day—she is just so wise beyond her years. She said something that really stayed with me—she said, ‘Transparency is the new mystery.’ I agree with that, because in our culture, in our society, unfortunately, you see a lot of women, a lot of girls, and people who are ‘famous,’ and they are always perfectly presented—I think that can make people feel insecure. They think that they have to appear perfectly presented and perfectly made up, and to have certain possessions or material things that make them seem more of value...and that’s not at all what people should be focused on in order to achieve their dreams. And that’s some of the reasons why I kept those moments in the film where I’m clearly tired and I look horrible, I don’t look like I used to be, perfectly presented at all times. Because I’ve really built up this cartoon image of me and, in some ways, I think it’s time—not necessarily to break that down, but...to show that not only am I Dorothy wearing slippers and I’ve been on this long journey, but also, here’s what’s under the hood. Here’s where I come from.
What do you hope the audience will get out of this film?
I hope that people will be inspired and get moving, and I hope that they will be encouraged to know that they don’t have to change into something that they are not in order to succeed. My message is, live a full life and reach your goals, however big or small they may be. I think some of my audience, especially teenagers, can feel a little bit lost about how to get to where they want to go. I think they can be confused about what they want to do in life, and how they want to fulfill their ambitions...because I think we’ve been fed, especially in the last five years or so, the wrong priorities. And although I’ve been susceptible to some of those things, I’ve tried to move beyond that idea that you have to be a victim in order to achieve your dreams.
“Katy Perry: Part of Me” is released is distributed by United International Pictures through Solar Entertainment Corp. SHOWING ON AUGUST 29 NATIONWIDE!
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