Gaga has always cited a myriad of influences for her videos, but for “Judas,” the singer went literal, telling the story of Judas Iscariot betraying Jesus. Released in 2011, the music video was directed by Gaga and her longtime choreographer Laurie-Ann Gibson, with The Walking Dead star Norman Reedus taking on the titular role, and Gaga as Mary Magdalene.
“I mostly remember [Gaga’s] fearlessness on the back of a motorcycle, hanging backwards off the bike doing 80 down the 101,” Reedus tells Rolling Stone of the experience. “I was totally overtaken. Her work ethic was mind blowing: dead serious and also full of imagination.”
Shot over two days in Los Angeles, the video portrays the disciples as a modern-day biker gang, who eventually meet their fate at the “Electric Chapel” when Judas reveals his true intentions. Gaga attempts to silence Judas by pointing a gun to his mouth, only for it to be revealed as a lipstick gun, in a now-infamous sequence where she smears a red stain across Reedus’ mouth.
In the end, it’s Gaga — as Mary Magdalene — who pays the ultimate price, as she’s stoned to death while wearing a bejeweled white frock, with Judas and Jesus nowhere to be seen. Is she the sacrificial lamb? Or just a Chanel-clad crusader who meets an accidental fate?
“I watched her work into the wee hours of the morning doing take after take,” Reedus says. “Dancing with the boys, then the girls, then solo over and over again until it was perfect. I was in awe.”