Warning: Spoilers for A Star Is Born ahead!
The final scene in A Star Is Born—in which Lady Gaga sings the powerful ballad “I’ll Never Love Again”—is more than enough to have anyone sobbing into their popcorn. But in case the movie didn’t leave you gutted enough, the real-life tragedy that occurred in Gaga’s life the same day she filmed the heartbreaking scene will have you crying all over again.
In a new interview with Zane Lowe for Apple Music, Gaga revealed that while she was on set getting ready to shoot, she received news that one of her closest friends, Sonja Durham, was nearing the end of her battle with stage IV cancer. “On that day my friend Sonja—who had been battling cancer for years—her friend called me and I could hear her moaning in the background and she said she’s not doing well,” Gaga said. “And I thought she was dying, so I left the set.”
The pop star says she didn’t even tell costar and director Bradley Cooper that she had left. “I just got in my car and started driving and I missed her by 10 minutes,” she said.
Gaga shared that she laid with Sonja’s son and husband, and consulted her friend’s widower about whether she should return to set. “He said, ‘You’ve gotta do what Sonja would want you to do,'” Gaga recalled. “She gave me a tragic gift that day and I took it with me to set, and I sang that song for Jackson and for her on that very same day within an hour.”
When she returned to set, she said, Cooper was kind and supportive in the wake of her loss. “Bradley was so beautiful with me that day, he was so loving. He was like, ‘You don’t have to do it too many times, it’s OK.’ And, I was like, ‘All I wanna do is sing, man,'” she said.
And so Gaga stepped in front of the camera and sang lyrics that had suddenly become even more poignant than they already are in the context of the film. “Wish I could, I could have said goodbye/ I would have said what I wanted to, maybe even cried for you/ If I knew it would be the last time/ I would have broke my heart in two/ Tryin’ to save a part of you,” she sings, per Genius.
In the interview, Gaga continued, “Life is hard, man, but we’ve gotta stick together. What’s more important than any of this, the fame, the accolades? What’s important is the process of love and kindness. I think the star of this film is human courage, bravery.”