Lady Gaga Already Gave Us Her Take on Harley Quinn – Collider

This 2013 Robert Rodriguez film was her feature film debut.
Lady Gaga has established her bona fides as a legitimate Oscar-caliber performer. Anyone who has seen A Star is Born or House of Gucci can attest to that. It was announced recently that she would be jumping on board to play Harley Quinn in the highly anticipated sequel, Joker: Folie à Deux, directed by Todd Phillips and starring Joaquin Phoenix again in the titular role. When we heard this, it got us interested to see what kind of history the singer/actress has in the action-thriller genre and came up with an unlikely, but comparable role.
In 2013, Gaga made her acting debut in a film starring Danny Trejo called Machete Kills. It's a pulpy, guilty pleasure directed by Robert Rodriguez and gets extra points for not taking itself too seriously. Rodriguez set out to make a Quentin Tarantino 70s grindhouse-style film and that is exactly what the movie is. With its low budget and cheap shoot-em-up effects, it boasts cameos from the likes of Jessica Alba, Charlie Sheen, Mel Gibson, Michelle Rodriguez, and many more who knew exactly what they were signing up for. But we wanted to focus on Lady Gaga in particular to get a little glimpse of what we might expect from her in the highly coveted role of the demented and maniacal DC villain when Joker 2 comes out. As of the time of writing this article, the film is scheduled to hit theaters on October 4, 2024.
Machete Kills is an unabashed send-up of just about every cheap, thrill-ride action film ever made. Not only does Rodriguez make no apologies for it, but he also doubles down and has a blast with the freedom that comes along with the unadulterated pulp. Machete (Trejo) is forced into action by the President of the United States, Rathcock (Sheen), to take on the drug cartels that are threatening the southern border of the country. Within two minutes of parachuting into Acapulco, he is shot at by a bevy of sex workers. His assignment includes the assassination of cartel kingpin Marcos Mendez (Damian Bichir), who is also threatening to blow up Washington, D.C.
We don't get our first look at what is supposed to be Lady Gaga until the 36-minute mark, and she comes in the form of terrific character actor Walter Goggins who is one of La Camaleón's many identities. She has the ability to look like anyone at anytime, hence the name. With Goggins as her vessel, we find out right away that she talks the talk and doesn't mince words as she makes quick work of the bartender who has crossed her boss. La Camaleón then hilariously pulls off the Goggins mask to reveal Cuba Gooding Jr.– her next identity. Rodriguez even got Antonio Banderas to wear the mask of La Camaleón, his old pal and star of his 1995 breakout hit Desperado. You never know whose body she will change into next, and it fits right in with the inane tone of the film.
Related: First 'Joker: Folie à Deux' Image of Lady Gaga's Harley Quinn
After going through several faces and iterations, we get to see Lady Gaga as the La Camaleón assassin at the 45-minute mark of the film, and it marks her first appearance ever on the big screen. She has an air of Harley Quinn right off the bat with her shoulder-length, wavy red hair, stiletto heels, heavy makeup, big diamond earrings and necklace, and tatted-up hourglass figure donning a tight-fitting red dress. We already know that she can handle the crazy of it all, so what we're really looking for is just how freaking bananas Gaga gets and does it foreshadow some of the same character traits that she will be asked to include in her portrayal of the Joker's right-hand woman? It's going to take a downright off-the-wall bonkers performance to match the comic book character and the version we've already seen thrice from Margot Robbie in the Suicide Squad movies and Birds of Prey in 2020.
Throughout the film, La Camaleón operates as a lone wolf and a hired gun. She wastes little time tracking down Machete, quickly entering into a side-to-side speeding car smash fest. She is driving a cheap, beige 80s Volkswagen van when she utters her first line ever in a movie, "Hola, Mother F*****!" It's a most memorable and impressive intro, and she definitely has the requisite, devil-may-care insane look in her eyes as the two continue to try to run each other off the road. Machete gets the better of her in this encounter as her van tumbles end over end, but we don't know if she lives or dies. Of course, twenty minutes later, we discover that she lives like the badass that she is and continues rattling off insane dialogue before getting back to shooting indiscriminately and killing whoever crosses her path.
She does a very Harley Quinn-esque thing when she climbs out of the wrecked van and shoots a dying man in the road simply because he and his broken-down car were the obstruction that caused her to crash, letting Machete get away. That's the kind of emotionless and blatant disregard for human life that we've come to expect from the character. At this point, the only real difference is their choice of weapons. While Harley typically relies on her trusty bat inscribed with the nicety, "Good Night" on it, La Camaleón prefers a 38 Special with a silencer. The last we see of her is as she is trying to hitch a ride and ends up hijacking a semi-truck big rig and coldly killing the driver.
Yes, she definitely has the skill set to play one of our favorite DC villains. In fact, she may just put a new spin on the character now that she is a full decade into her acting career and will be quite comfortable filling Robbie's shoes. The truth is, the actress is so incredibly gifted that she would have been just fine in the role in 2013. And while we still don't know how much of a wild card she will be or what kind of relationship she will have with the Joker, we feel pretty confident that Lady Gaga will never be the weak link in any movie she's attached to. Chalk this sequel up in the "highly anticipated" column, for sure.

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Jeffrey Speicher is a Senior Features Writer and List Writer for Collider. He is a screenwriter as well as a film and television buff. He lives in Dallas, Texas, but can’t stand the Cowboys. His crime novel, “The Snitch” is available on Amazon.

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