The highly anticipated Ridley Scott film, which is due to be released later this month, is based on the real-life story of Patrizia Reggiani, who was convicted of arranging the murder of her husband, late Gucci head Maurizio Gucci, in 1995. The movie stars Lady Gaga and Adam Driver as the married couple.
And in a new interview with British Vogue as its December 2021 cover star, Gaga — who has been working on the movie for three years — recalled the difficulties she faced while “becoming” her character.
“I will be fully honest and transparent: I lived as [Patrizia] for a year and a half. And I spoke with an accent for nine months of that,” she said, before clarifying that this was “off camera.”
“I never broke. I stayed with her,” she added.
Detailing some of the changes that she made in order to transform herself into Patrizia, Gaga recalled dyeing her hair dark “instantly” because she felt it would help her better articulate the Italian accent while she focused on understanding the “interests” of the character.
“It was nearly impossible for me to speak in the accent as a blonde,” she said. “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.”
“I started to take photographs as well,” she went on. “I have no evidence that Patrizia was a photographer, but I thought as an exercise, and finding her interests in life, that I would become a photographer, so I took my point-and-shoot camera everywhere that I went. I noticed that Patrizia loved beautiful things. If something wasn’t beautiful, I deleted it.”
The Oscar winner went on to describe some of the lasting mental hardships she experienced as a result of her dedication to method acting.
“I had some psychological difficulty at one point towards the end of filming,” she explained. “I was either in my hotel room, living and speaking as [Patrizia] Reggiani, or I was on set, living and speaking as her. 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.”
“We were in between takes and Salma [Hayek, who also stars in the movie] was like, ‘Oh, this fucking method actor is over here. You know, she’s not talking to me right now.’ Because I was doing sense memory work next to her, and she was making fun of me while I was sitting there doing it,” she recalled.
“I didn’t even laugh. When the scene was over, I flipped at her and I said, ‘You’re ridiculous!’ and I started laughing and I kissed her. It was a wonderful set, but I’m very serious when I work,” she said.
What’s more, it wasn’t just Gaga’s personal life that was impacted by her persistent method acting. The star went on to recall the “disconnect” she felt from her family following the months on end of “living and speaking” as Patrizia.
“There was some silence and some disconnect for a while,” she said.
“You end up sounding and looking like [the character], yes, but it’s not an imitation, it’s a becoming. I remember when we started filming, I knew I had become — and I knew that the greater challenge was going to be unbecoming,” she added.
Back in March, Reggiani revealed that she was “rather annoyed” to learn that Gaga was set to portray her in the forthcoming movie given that the two hadn’t met up beforehand.
“I am rather annoyed at the fact that Lady Gaga is playing me in the new Ridley Scott film without having had the consideration and sensibility to come and meet me,” she told ANSA.
Responding now, Gaga said: “I only felt that I could truly do this story justice if I approached it with the eye of a curious woman who was interested in possessing a journalistic spirit so that I could read between the lines of what was happening in the film's scenes.”
“Meaning that nobody was going to tell me who Patrizia Gucci was,” she added. “Not even Patrizia Gucci.”
Elsewhere, Gaga isn’t the only Hollywood actor who has recently opened up about losing touch with reality after committedly practicing method acting.
Just a few months ago in August, fellow Academy Award-winner Nicole Kidman recalled staying in character for five months while filming for Hulu’s Nine Perfect Strangers — and she even revealed that she'd stopped responding to her real name entirely.
“I wanted a very calm healing energy to emanate all the time,” explained Nicole, who portrayed a wellness guru named Masha. “So I remember going over to people and sort of putting my hand on their heart, holding their hand, they would talk to me or use my name, Nicole, when I would completely ignore them.
“I felt like otherwise I would be doing a performance and I didn’t want to feel that way,” she added.