Rubin, a food delivery worker, was taking a break on Sunday, March 26 when a crowd outside New York County Superior Court caught his eye. Protesters lined the courthouse steps, jeering and waving homemade banners. Police officers and news vans filled the streets, and onlookers posed behind crowd control barriers to take pictures. “I thought they were arresting Donald Trump,” Rubin told Vulture. When he realized the crowds had gathered for a Joker: Folie à Deux Filming the movie, not Criminal indictment of a former president, was frustrated. “I’m not a fan of Gaga,” he explained. Of all the onlookers Vulture spoke to throughout the photoshoot, only Robyn would have preferred watching Trump’s arrest than Lady Gaga finding out.
The set looked surreal, with news vans and Gotham extras demanding, “Secure that Joker!” , replacing the real media presence only days earlier and drawing a crowd of nearly a hundred spectators at its peak.
Two local residents, who asked not to be named, said they had spotted some protesters during filming the day before, but weren’t sure if they were Trump voters or extras from the DC Universe. “It’s a New York moment: a real protest next to a fake movie protest. We didn’t know which cops were here,” said one.
Meanwhile, Gaga’s fans knew exactly what they were looking for. Two tourists, Cheval and Enzo, connected on Twitter Saturday night after photos of Gaga leaked while Harley Quinn was on set. They made a plan to meet at 7 am to talk about the photo shoot on Sunday. Enzo described it as a “once in a lifetime” opportunity. And they actually had their first celebrity sighting of the morning, as they caught Joaquin Phoenix getting out of the car and “smoking” on his way to the trailer. Enzo concluded, “It’s an overall fun experience, regardless of Gaga or the lack of Gaga”.
A group of Fashion Institute of Technology students were more confident about the prospects of their discovery of Gaga. One of them, Gigi, had visited the site the day before. By randomly knocking on the trailer doors, she managed to contact the costume designer, who told her the singer would be back on Sunday. So Gigi is back, along with her friends Olympia and Cassie: “We’ve been listening to her [Lady Gaga] The whole way here.”
“I wouldn’t say we are avid fans [of Joker]Cassie explained, “But we love Gaga.”
Despite the abundance of both real New York City cops and Gotham “officers” in the group, one of the little monsters reportedly got a little too close to its target. Emily told Vulture that she snuck into the set on Saturday by pretending to be an extra. “I got up on that pole over there,” she claimed, pointing to a pole in the courthouse, “and grabbed my butt on Lady Gaga’s shoulder.” During the following snap, Emily said she apologized to the star, who she claimed was “really nice about it.”
“My whole goal was to try and get her to sign my breast, and then I would smell it if she did that. But I ended up getting in the way too for the time being.” After being removed from the set, she said, she decided to return to the crime scene the next day, disguised in a wig and sunglasses.
Photo: Amy Zimmerman
Other actual background actors echoed Gaga’s praises, saying that she came across as kind and professional during filming. Two of the extras who were in the on-screen Saturday crowd, Dagmara and Ari Juliet, agreed that she was a “star.” “She was very focused,” Dagmara recalls. “When she was coming down the stairs, she felt like she was in the zone. She didn’t care about anyone else.”
When filming resumed after lunch on Sunday, viewers finally had the chance to see Gaga perform. By this point, the crowd had swelled from two fans to more than fifty, gathered across the street from the courtroom. They watched anxiously as Lady Gaga stomped down the stairs. In the scene, Harley Quinn is harassed by a demonstrator, who reacts by pulling her in with an aggressive kiss. The first time Gaga went in for the kiss, the audience audibly gasped.
“I didn’t expect her to kiss a lady on screen,” Tourist Cheval told Vulture. “She’s fucking creative! I’ve never seen anything like this in my life.”
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