Ahead of the US theatrical release of director Ridley Scott’s inspired-by-true-events family drama House of Gucci on Wednesday November 24th, The Queer Review attended the virtual press conference where Lady Gaga spoke about taking on the lead role of Patrizia Reggiani opposite Adam Driver as Maurizio Gucci. Scott and his wife, actor and producer Giannina Facio—who were also present at the event in Los Angeles along with other members of the cast and screenwriter Roberto Bentivegna—have been planning to make a film based on Sara Gay Forden’s book, The House of Gucci: A Sensational Story of Murder, Madness, Glamour, and Greed, since it was first published back in 2000.
Lady Gaga, who was Oscar nominated as Lead Actress for playing Ally in A Star is Born and won the Academy Award for Best Song for Shallow from the hit movie’s soundtrack, began by talking about collaborating with Ridley Scott, saying that the experience was, “Amazing, incredible, an honor. He’s an architect. He is a legendary artist. I enjoyed every moment of it and I don’t want to speak for everybody, but he really set the tone for creating a family—and it’s a fucked up family—but we’re a real good family! Although there was a remarkable structure, there was a method to the way that we shot the film and the way that he approached all of us that was so empowering.”
Speaking directly to the filmmaker, Gaga added, “I have to say this, just to thank you. As a woman on set, Ridley, I always felt so empowered to speak my mind. I always felt like you cared and that you upheld the perspective of women, and because Patrizia is a woman and is in a world of men, for you to give such a life to that voice was very meaningful to me. I’ve really never witnessed anybody that works the way that he does, and I have not done a lot of movies, but I’ve performed a lot and I’ve worked with a lot of directors, and it’s remarkable.”
“I was a huge admirer of Adam’s work”, said Lady Gaga of her Oscar-nominated House of Gucci co-star, “and I thought that the two of us together in these roles would really be magic. Watching the film back for myself—I know the phrase letting stuff slip through the cracks, but that really happened in their relationship—she got away with a lot and it went on for a long period of time until the illusion of her ability to matter in this family was shattered. In my own heritage, as an Italian American woman I would never insert myself in business with a bunch of Italian men. I think this was a terrible idea on her part, but she really tried, and the joke was really on her.”
Talking about what initially drew her to the role, Gaga said that she found Patrizia to be “A fascinating character. I was sure that because when they married the family had turned their back on him that she did not marry him for his money. I don’t believe that’s why she had him murdered either. I drove by where Mauricio was shot, and I just wanted to take a second to say that this movie is very fun, and this movie is so beautifully made by Ridley and Giannina and everybody involved, and also it is about the loss of a life that is a real life. I remember driving by and I felt that pit drop in my stomach because I was so in my character and I thought, ‘What have I done?’ We made art, and we made art out of pain. I feel like she died at the end of the film in a way because she had somebody killed and I think when you kill somebody, you kill yourself. There was nothing left of her. She was of a particular class when she met Mauricio and I think that she never quite made it. She was never as shiny as the Guccis, she really wanted to be, but there was always something about her that was trying to matter.”
“It was hard to play a murderer and I think that one of the lessons is if you pay too much attention to power and money and privilege, you might be staring at the thing that is not the true disaster, which is that she was about to put a hit out on her husband. There was really no money at stake for her in that, which I think people don’t know, and I’m interested for people to see this film and to have fun, because the movie is fun and beautiful, and it makes you laugh, it makes you cry and a real family was born. I feel a true family was born.”
When it came to letting the character go, Lady Gaga commented, “Ridley helped me in a lot of ways because when we were almost done filming, he said to me, ‘This better be an exorcism for you’, because he watched how I work. He saw me. I’d be completely immersed in something, I’d be completely tortured, I would be so inside of the scene that I was so lost in what felt like a real truth and a real reality for me. He said to me, ‘You have to leave this part of yourself behind’, and that he believed in me as an artist, that I could go forward as an actor and be great without carrying all that trauma with me all the time on set. He really inspired me to be a healthier actor. Adam did as well. Adam was very supportive of me working in a way that was healthy for me and I appreciate that support from your fellow actors.”
When it comes to the film’s stunning costumes, hair and makeup, Lady Gaga said that these elements only form part of the process of creating a character. “I love transformation. I love fashion. I love hair and makeup. I love all these departments. My trailer was like a science lab! There were 15 wigs. I remember one day we sat with Ridley and Frederic Aspiras, who did my hair for the film, and he actually cut the wig on my head as Ridley was standing there directing him to cut my hair! In makeup, every day we had continuity photos all over the walls. There were murals and murals of Patrizia and all of her looks over the years, but what was really important to me was that her heart shined through and that a real woman came out and that when you were watching this film you saw her, you weren’t seeing her clothes, you were seeing her. The clothes should never be a distraction, the clothes should be a part of the human being that you’re playing. So even the way that my eyeliner was shaped, the lip liner that we did that was similar to hers, it’s the nuance of the difference between an imitation of somebody and a becoming of someone. It was important to me that it didn’t read as fashion, but that it read as a real woman with a real heart.”
House of Gucci is released in US theaters on Wednesday November 24th 2021.