At the House of Gucci panel at Deadline’s Contenders Film: Los Angeles award-season event, filmmaker Ridley Scott, Lady Gaga, Adam Driver and Jared Leto spoke about the MGM satire about the implosion of the family-run Gucci fashion empire, with all the backstabbing, lawsuits, prison sentences and the cold-blooded assassination of Maurizio Gucci. His estranged wife, Patrizia Reggiani, was found guilty of hiring a hit man to murder a husband who kicked her to the curb after her attempts to exert influence on the business led to the fracturing of the family.
The film will be a major factor in the awards race in all categories, from Scott’s direction to the acting of Gaga, Driver, Leto, Al Pacino and Salma Hayek. The film opens November 24 in the U.S. via United Artists Releasing.
Scott, who covered the callous behavior of the super rich in All the Money in the World, said the inspiration was “not dissimilar to two infamous, or famous artists families in Italy in the 14th and 15th century. The Medici and the Borgias, a group of family that never saw eye to eye and were in a constant state of disparate agenda. That is exactly what happens here, this is a modern Medici story in a funny kind of way. To me it is so extreme, it is almost operatic in its extremes, the way it comes down.”
In her second studio feature starring role, Lady Gaga plays Patrizia, an ambitious Elizabeth Taylor lookalike who falls hard for Maurizio, and marries him even though the scion was disinherited from his father Rodolfo (Jeremy Irons) because the young man wants to be an idealistic lawyer and finds a woman his father feels is below his station. Played by Driver, Maurizio is spurred on by his wife to become everything he resented. Leto plays Paolo, the son of Rodolfo’s brother Aldo (Al Pacino), who fancies himself a fashion designer and potential successor but whose ideas and manner embarrasses the family.
Asked about her character’s evolution from being called Elizabeth Taylor to the Black Widow by the Italian press during the murder trial, Lady Gaga said, “the great challenge in building this character is there is not a lot of information about Patrizia Gucci before the death of Maurzio Gucci. This was how she became famous to the world. I did a lot of intensive almost journalistic type work, where I read mostly exposition about her, watched every single clip of every interview she gave post the murder, for her mannerisms and to be attuned to when she was lying and telling the truth. If you watch enough interviews with someone, you become in tune with their emotional quotient. And she lied, a lot.”
She said she wrote an 80-page diary-style treatise on who Patrizia was and how she manipulated members of the family to raise Maurizio and by extension, herself.
Driver, who plays the murder victim was asked about his evolution from an idealistic wannabe lawyer who could do good to a materialist who spent lavishly and strained the coffers of the company, was asked how much Patrizia was as the catalyst for his change.
“Her involvement was paramount,” Driver said. “He wouldn’t have changed if she hadn’t empowered him to make him believe that he belonged at the table. That was what was so exciting about playing the character. He’s almost as intelligent at the beginning, before you have that piece of cake and end up wanting the whole thing.” Driver felt Maurizio was left with 50% of Gucci when his father passed, but his father never really trained his son to run such a large company. “Out of happenstance, suddenly you are the person who is in charge and suddenly the stakes are different. The pressure is different. He was never empowered by his father to be this person, to claim what is his. He is married to someone who has no problem claiming the throne. He doesn’t really become himself until he loses the company and then he goes back to who he was, at the start. Curious, open minded, fully realized at the end of his life. And just when you think he is going to start this new life, someone takes it from him.”
Leto’s Paolo, in scenes with Pacino as his father Aldo, is a bit reminiscent of Pacino’s scenes with John Cazale as Fredo Corleone in The Godfather films. Both were loveably hapless, and bitter when passed over for the top job as their father’s successor.
“Just to be included in that thought is flattering,” Leto said. “Al Pacino is an actor who changed the way things were done, his choices and commitment to his work is legendary and the opportunity to work with someone like that is phenomenal. He’s an easy father to have in a film. He’s warm, gracious and funny, no ego and there is a lot to learn there, I fell in love with this character, Paolo Gucci. I felt it was very hard to say goodbye to this character. You get to know this person, this creation and it’s bittersweet and kind of breaks my heart. From his pigeons, to his physicality, sense of humor, and the transformation, it was such a unique mountain to climb. And Ridley f*cking Scott, the director of directors, the master craftsman, the general who just led us through this creative battle. He’s made every type of film imaginable and is still making powerfully relevant films that make the world of cinema richer. I’ve been begging him for a job for 18 years and I’m so glad he finally got sick of me asking, and he said yes.”
Check back Tuesday for the panel video.
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