If you happened to bump into someone walking around Los Angeles using a thick, slightly questionable Italian accent and dripping in head-to-toe Gucci, chances are that was just Lady Gaga going full method for her new movie.
The music superstar hasn’t just dipped her toes in the acting pond once again for the upcoming “House of Gucci.” Instead, she’s fully immersed herself in the world of Patrizia Reggiani, who was tried and convicted of orchestrating the 1995 murder of her ex-husband, Maurizio Gucci, the former head of the Gucci fashion house.
The Ridley Scott-directed film chronicling one of the most scandalous crimes in Italian history arrives in theaters this month, and Gaga has revealed that she reached the edge of, well, her own sanity to portray the murderess at the center of the story.
“It is three years since I started working on it ... and I will be fully honest and transparent: I lived as her [Reggiani] for a year and a half. And I spoke with an accent for nine months of that,” she said in the cover story for British Vogue’s December issue. “Off camera ... I never broke. I stayed with her.”
Before the film even began production in Rome, Gaga was already undergoing a transformation after deducing it was “nearly impossible for me to speak in the accent as a blonde.”
“I instantly had to dye my hair, and I started to live in a way whereby anything that I looked at, anything that I touched, I started to take notice of where and when I could see money,” she said of becoming the character, who sought to seize control of the luxury fashion house from the titular family.
And then came the accent. Gaga worked “tirelessly” on perfecting it, first drilling down on a specific dialect from Reggiani’s birthplace before tweaking the accent to “work in the higher class way of speaking” to track her character’s changing social status in the film.
“I thought of my ancestors in Italy, and what they had to do so that I could have a better life,” Gaga said in response to critics who questioned her accent in the first trailer for the film. “I just wanted to make them proud, which is why I made the decision to make the performance about a real woman and not about the idea of a bad woman.”
But during the final stages of filming, Gaga revealed that she began to lose touch with her own reality, which brought about some “psychological difficulty.”
“I was either in my hotel room, living and speaking as Reggiani, or I was on set, living and speaking as her,” she recalled. “I remember I went out into Italy one day with a hat on to take a walk. I hadn’t taken a walk in about two months and I panicked ... I thought I was on a movie set.”
While her co-star Salma Hayek described Gaga’s technique as “delicious madness,” apparently the transformation took its toll with the singer adding that there was “some silence and some disconnect” in her personal relationships at the time.
But was it worth it? While the film has yet to be screened by critics, it’s already generating potential Oscar buzz for Gaga, who seems resigned to the all-or-nothing approach.
“That’s my own journey as an artist that I still reckon with,” she said. “And I ask myself, ‘Is this healthy, the way that you do this?’ I just don’t know any other way.”
“House of Gucci,” which also stars Adam Driver, Al Pacino and Jared Leto, is set to hit theaters on Nov. 24.