The pop star’s energetic Day-Glo performances and chart success – tying Michael Jackson’s “Bad” with five No. 1 singles from her album Teenage Dream – are undercut by heartbreak. She sobs uncontrollably backstage as her marriage to Russell Brand falls apart during her world tour, and talks about her dashed desire for “fairy tale” romance.
Perry co-produced “Katy Perry: Part of Me” and is now promoting it with the same energy she gave to the year-long “California Dreams” tour it documents. Like Justin Bieber’s “Never Say Never,” the movie cross-cuts between concert footage and biography. It includes interviews with Perry’s friends, assistant, manager, makeup artist, Christian evangelical parents, and plenty of fans. Brand is on screen in several scenes but his presence is reduced by the end mostly to phone and text messages.
In an interview, Perry spoke about sharing her side of the breakup on-screen, leaning on her fans as “a support system,” and plans for her next album.
The Associated Press: Your relationship with Russell Brand supplies the narrative arc of the film. It’s very personal. You’re crying on screen. Is it the same to you as doing a break-up song like “Wide Awake”?
Perry: Oh my God, I have tear ducts! Crazy! I am human! I think it was important for me to leave some of the more difficult things in the film so that it wasn’t just a narcissistic fanfare film about how great I am. Because I’m not all great. There might be moments of greatness but they are very hard-worked (sic). I think it was important to show that there are obstacles and problems in people’s lives and it’s OK if you have them. You just have to overcome them. ... Sometimes if you want to achieve something great, there will be curveballs. You just have to dodge them every once in a while.
There’s a clip in the movie where you tell Ellen DeGeneres you’re going to take a long nap when the tour is over. It seems like you never did. You never took a break.
I’m still having fun. When I thought of documenting this whole process of last year, I didn’t know it was going to be a huge movie with billboards and Hollywood and stuff. But I just knew that there was a huge wave coming and I wanted to be able to forever keep the memory of that wave. So I caught everything. I threw the net out very wide. And at the end of it it was over 300-plus hours of film. And it turned into this movie. And I’m glad. Because it sends a great message, it’s very inspiring and it’s another kind of layer of me that I’ve revealed in time.
At one point in the film, you’re heartbroken and sobbing before going onstage in Brazil, where fans chant “We love you Katy” in Portuguese. The movie makes it feel like fan love replaces Russell Brand’s love – or at least helps you through the breakup.
Nothing was replaced. It was always there. ... Yeah, of course, it’s a support system. It’s exactly like when I was signed to major labels and dropped. And the guys that really didn’t understand my artistic vision were like, “No, we’re not going to put her record out.” I packed up my things and went to Hotel Cafe, here in Los Angeles, which is a tiny venue. And I played my songs. ... And people were supporting these songs. And they were telling me that this was the right thing to do. So there is no void filled. It’s just that it’s always been there.
You wonder in the film about whether you can have a relationship and a career. Do you feel like there is an answer to that?
The answer is always changing for me, you know, because every day is kind of a bit of a surprise. Sometimes it’s a great opportunity, sometimes it’s a situation I have to deal with. So I don’t know. I still believe in love, most definitely. I’m just going to let that take the lead.
Where are you at on the next album? Will there be a shift in your sound?
I don’t want to completely self-sabotage everything that I’ve got and alienate everyone. But I definitely want to take some chances as I always have. And after the movie comes out, I think it’ll be appropriate for me to go away for a while.
Do you worry about getting overexposed?
I worry if it’s not real. I’m OK if everything is honest and truthful and relatable. If it’s fabricated and ill-motived, it’s not good. But I don’t try and involve myself in that type of stuff.
What will change in your next phase in terms of balancing your public and private life?
I’ll continue to try and balance like a circus act. And I will just fight to always tell the truth. Even if it’s difficult.