Hours before Katy Perry is to appear on Jimmy Kimmel Live, the pop princess is a long way from camera-ready. But that doesn't dim her radiance one bit.
Forty minutes behind in an already jampacked schedule, Perry cheerfully strolls the grounds of Paramount Studios in a tan Chanel sweatsuit with her purple hair rolled and pinned. As she conducts her phone pre-interview with a Kimmel producer, she dreamily twirls around in a full circle.
"Busy is not the word," she explains after her call. "Tomorrow is my movie premiere, and we're all running around like chickens with our heads cut off. It's all so on-the-fly. It's super-real."
"Super-real" is what it's all about these days for Perry, 27, who already has shown the world a number of glamorous incarnations in her short and impossibly bright career, from California pinup to glamour girl, sex kitten and girl next door.
With Thursday's release of Katy Perry: Part of Me, the pop star will give her legion of fans a behind-the-scenes look at her life during her 2011 California Dreams tour.
The year-long, exhausting, 124-show marathon that showcased 2010's multiplatinum album Teenage Dream and earned nearly $60 million saw Perry playing to mostly sold-out venues across the globe and dealing with the breakdown of her marriage to comedian/actor Russell Brand.
"She had a lot going on," says her friend and makeup artist, Todd Delano. "Things blew up."
In the winter of 2010, Perry came up with the film's concept after seeing the seismic shift in her career as large arenas sold out. She had broken into the mainstream with the release of 2008's One of the Boys (and its No. 1 single I Kissed a Girl), and momentum built. She was intrigued by capturing the drama that would come with blockbuster success.
"It was like, 'Holy crap, what's going on?' I thought, 'Maybe we should document this,' " Perry says. "I knew anything could happen at a point when you take such big steps like this. I could have definitely gone bankrupt. I could have definitely gone mental. It was a huge wave. I thought it was important to catch whatever was coming."
That wave was largely spurred by Teenage Dream's five No. 1 hits —Firework, Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.), California Gurls, Teenage Dream and E.T. — all captured in the film with 3-D performance footage.
To provide context for the music, Perry hired documentarians Edward Lovelace and James Hall to do interviews and shoot the acne-and-all look at her life — even if it meant catching her looking "bloated" or breaking into tears.
"People are going to see me completely," Perry says. "I left in all of those scenes where I don't look very flattering. Because that's me."
In fact, she relishes allowing the world a peek behind the curtain. For this interview, Perry happily sits on an outdoor lunch table in the Paramount lot despite instantly becoming a focal point for gawkers in nearby office windows. "I never get to sit outside," she explains.
When one mother brings her two daughters to say hello, the pop star embraces her glammed-down look. "Hi, I'm Katy, and I've got rollers in," she blurts out, hesitating only slightly when they ask her to pose for a picture.
"I don't look presentable, but how do you say no to that?" she says with a smile.
An unraveling on film
Fans will also see the full arc of her relationship with Brand, starting with her cooing about meeting him on the set of Get Him to the Greek in 2009 (her cameo was edited from the film). The two were married in India in 2010, and Part of Me shows glimpses of happy days.
But as her tour rolls on, cracks emerge. Perry is shown trying to shoehorn in days to visit Brand, even skipping from Austria to Los Angeles for a short visit. "I'm trying to keep my marriage alive," Perry says in the movie.
The personal problems are not discussed, but Brand is portrayed as unwilling to visit. (Brand declined to comment for this article.) The drama boils over as a catatonic Perry weeps backstage before a concert in Brazil in September. Three months later, Brand announced the marriage was over.
Though there are moments that highlight her vulnerability, Perry also is depicted as being in total control of her empire. "I wanted to show the entire operation," Perry says. "People just think I'm the girl wearing the ruby slippers. I wanted to show them at the end of the journey. I am the Oz as well."
Perry says she continued to exert "creative control" as directors Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz winnowed the 600 hours of footage into a 112-minute film.
Says Cutforth, "As we make clear, there's nothing that has Katy Perry's name in it that Katy Perry is not involved in."
But Perry didn't shy away from showing the raw relationship breakdown, however hard it was to relive during her frequent trips to the editing room. After the first full screening, "she needed a moment to process the emotional impact. She's human," Lipsitz says. "They had a marriage and it broke up. To relive it and not feel it, you'd have to be made of stone not to react."
Fighting back tears, Perry concedes in an interview at the end of the film that she misses Brand. But how does she feel about him today?
"That (film) interview was incredibly raw," she says, laughing nervously. "At the end of that, I quickly added, 'I take that back.' But that didn't make the cut. At that particular moment, I missed the romantic idea."
She adds: "But right now? I'm just looking to the future."
'I like aligning stars'
That future includes her first real break, beginning Aug. 1. "I don't have one thing on my calender for the rest of my life after that if I don't want."
Not likely. In the fall she begins work on her fourth studio album and will assess an array of projects — Perry even dreams about playing comedian Lucille Ball in a biopic.
"I don't know if I could do her justice," Perry says. "All the stars would have to align. But I like aligning stars."
As far as her romantic life, she denies any relationship despite persistent reports she is dating Florence and the Machine guitarist Robert Ackroyd.
"That's not even appropriate to label," she says. "There are times I go out and meet people and flirt, but it's not really appropriate to have anything serious."
That will come, however, for the still-romantic but "older, wiser" Perry.
"I have a second chance on life. To get maybe a better situation," she says. "For me, right now, I'm totally not looking. I'm just looking to heal. And I'm on that path. I'm not down on love."
As Perry begins to realize she has a live show waiting across town ("I do have to do Jimmy Kimmel at some point!"), she makes clear she's still living the fairy-tale life. It's just a different kind.
"My fairy tale has absolutely changed," she says. "I don't need the Prince Charming to have my own happy ending.
"I can make the happy ending myself."