Lady Gaga's Wildest 'House of Gucci' Oscar Campaign Moments
A journey through the mind of Patrizia Reggiani herself.
On July 29, 2021, the earth's axis shifted. That's when the first House of Gucci trailer premiered, introducing us to the next chapter in Lady Gaga's career: fair-but-not-particularly-ethical Patrizia Reggiani. Over the next several months, tidbits would emerge about Gaga's very serious dedication to this movie, which let her tap into her famous Italian roots to play the social climber who married profligate fashion exec Maurizio Gucci (Adam Driver) and later hired a hit man to kill him.
The Ridley Scott film is Gaga's follow-up to A Star Is Born, the movie that won her a coveted Oscar nod for Best Actress. Of course Gaga would like a repeat, so she hit the proverbial campaign trail hard, starting with House of Gucci's Milan premiere on November 13, about a week before the movie opened in theaters. Ever since, she has Daniel Day-Lewised her way through interviews. She has talked about her dedication to Method acting. (Never mind that a dialect coach who worked with Salma Hayek on Gucci said that Gaga's accent "sounds more Russian.") She concluded that her deep commitment to the character resulted in the real Patrizia, who was released from prison in 2016 after serving 18 years, sending a horde of flies to the set on Gaga's last day of filming. And she also revealed that a lesbian sex scene was apparently left on the cutting-room floor? Okay, sure.
Before Gaga's fate is determined with Tuesday's Oscar nomination announcement, let's review the highlights from someone who knows how to put on a show.
"We made art"
Early on, Gaga set the tone for her House of Gucci days thanks to an interview in which she described the "pit drop" she felt in her stomach when she drove past the late Maurizio Gucci's house. Gucci may be a "fun" movie, she said, but she didn't want to sound like she was endorsing Patrizia's murderous ways. "I was so in my character, and I thought, 'What have I done?" she said. "We made art, and we made art out of pain." —Matthew Jacobs
Patrizia's 80-page biography
Speaking of Patrizia Gucci, the real Patrizia told an Italian reporter, “I am quite annoyed by the fact that Lady Gaga is playing me in the new Ridley Scott film without even having the foresight and sensitivity to come and meet me,” per a Gaga profile in British Vogue. Why didn't preeminent Italian American Stefani Germanotta go and see Patrizia now that she is no longer in jail? you might ask. Well, in Gaga's own words from that same Vogue profile: "Nobody was going to tell me who Patrizia Gucci was. Not even Patrizia Gucci.” Instead, she researched. She went around taking photos of gorgeous things only ("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,” she told Vogue UK). And finally, she wrote an 80-page biography that she read often "to get the story inside of me," she told Australian TV outlet The Project, which she wanted to do to for this movie especially "because I'm Italian." Gaga, if you're reading this, please publish your work. —Leanne Butkovic
Gaga's uncharacteristic career backup
In the same British Vogue profile, she says that she wanted to approach the role of Patrizia with a "journalistic spirit so that I could read between the lines of what was happening in the film’s scenes." Later in the piece, she reveals her journalistic urges came naturally because "if I weren’t who I am today, I would have been a combat journalist. That was one of my dreams. When I was at the Capitol, the day before [Joe Biden's] inauguration [where she sang the national anthem], I remember walking around and looking for evidence of the insurrection.” Next time the New York Times needs to send a reporter to a war-torn area, they know who to call. —LB
Staying in character for a year and a half, maybe
How long was Gaga actually Patrizia? We'll probably never know. Did she stay in the accent for months? Years? Gaga, what is the truth? In her British Vogue profile, which basically kicked off the Gaga-as-Patrizia media mania, she said, "I will be fully honest and transparent: I lived as [Reggiani] for a year and a half. And I spoke with an accent for nine months of that." When the reporter asked, in disbelief, for Gaga to confirm that she was using the accent even off-camera, she replied, "I never broke. I stayed with her." Wow! Intense! But Gaga walked that back when talking with the New York Times. "If I’m being honest, I do feel that it’s been sensationalized that I worked on my accent for so long, and that I was in character for so long," she said. Then, however, she went on to explain that she did commit to Patrizia because that was the easiest way for her to play the part. "It would have been harder for me to go in and out of character on set than to stay in it," she added. Except, Patrizia was also "killing me because it was killing her." The mystery only deepens. —Esther Zuckerman
Feeling drunk off fake drinks
Gaga, bless your heart. During one of the many roundtables Gaga has participated in during awards season, she attempted to relate to her fellow performers. "Do you ever drink the prop drinks and ever feel drunk even though they are not real?" she asked the group, which included Jennifer Hudson, Kirsten Dunst, Kristen Stewart, Tessa Thompson and Penélope Cruz. "I do," she added. The range of reactions to this statement are art. Hudson slowly shakes her head as she clutches her chest. Cruz bites her lip. But it's Dunst who takes the cake with an instantly meme-able smirk. —EZ
The many animals that inspired her
Actors find inspiration from the divinest of places, so why should we mortals question their muses? In fact, the so-called animal exercise is a common tool that performers use; Marlon Brando famously observed apes to prepare for A Streetcar Named Desire. But Gaga wasn’t content to pick just one animal, or even two, like Anthony Hopkins, who combined “a tarantula and a crocodile” to portray Hannibal Lecter. No, Gaga “studied” three different animals for Patrizia. First she mimicked a cat, then a fox, then a panther—a process she described in detail to Jake Gyllenhaal during a joint Variety interview. In typical fashion, Gaga outlined her technique with utter seriousness: “I actually did exercises in my hotel room where I would be the animal. And then for that last scene, it was the panther. It was because the panther moves slowly, but then when it kills its prey, it is really violent and it’s really ugly, and then after, it cries. I chose these animals as a way to map the physicality of the character.” —MJ
A heavenly improvisation
"I love you. / I know." "Alright, alright, alright." "I'm king of the world!!!" Some of cinema's most iconic lines were ad-libs, products of the actors' prowess and split-second on-set inspiration. The most famous line from this movie, Patrizia's sinister Guccified sign of the cross "Father, Son, and House of Gucci," wasn't in the script at all, but instead was a little prayer Gaga would use before her scenes to get in the zone. One day, she just did it opposite Jared Leto in a scene, and the line not only stayed in the movie, but was so good it ended up all over all the promotional materials. —Emma Stefansky
The missing lesbian scene
You gotta give Gaga at least one thing—homegirl knows how to run an awards campaign. And her campaigning for House of Gucci has been extra—which isn't a complaint. However, as much as I respect Gaga's hustle, I do not for a second believe she shot a secret lesbian sex scene with Salma Hayek, who plays a psychic Patrizia befriends. In one of her many anecdotes from the film, Gaga claims they shot the scene because, well, what if after Maurizio died things got "hot” between Patrizia and Pina? Don't get me wrong, I would clamor to see it in the "director's cut" of House of Gucci (which would likely be seven hours long), but I call bullshit. Now, if Gaga wants to prove me wrong, release the lez cut. —Kerensa Cadenas
A mob of flies
Like Jack Nicholson and Daniel Day-Lewis before her, Gaga is famous for her Method acting (more on that below), and for House of Gucci, she really became Patrizia, channeling the character through every aspect of her life. But, like any great artist, she knew when she needed to let her muse go. On the last day of filming, she told W Magazine, she was on her balcony channeling the spirit of Italy with a cigarette in her mouth and blasting Dean Martin's "Mambo Italiano" when she was beset by a swarm of flies, which, she was convinced, were dispatched by the specter of Patrizia herself. "I truly began to believe that she had sent them," Gaga explained. "I was ready to let her go." And thank goodness she did, or we'd have a Cronenbergian horror movie on our hands. —ES
Gaga’s Method obsession
An actor’s easiest shortcut to Being Taken Seriously is dropping names like Stanislavski, Meisner, Stella Adler, and Lee Strasberg. Gaga has been doing it since her first headlining role, in 2015’s American Horror Story: Hotel, when she talked about studying Method acting at the Lee Strasberg Theater & Film Institute, which counts the likes of Marilyn Monroe and Laura Dern as alumni. Gaga upped the Being Taken Seriously ante while promoting A Star Is Born, and she upped it even further for House of Gucci. This supercut that made the Twitter rounds combines clips from the past several years, the funniest of which comes from a recent interview she did alongside Salma Hayek, who stares blankly as her co-star Gaga-splains Stanislavski, Meisner, Stella Adler, and Lee Strasberg. —MJ
The purple premiere dress
Gaga may have been done inhabiting Patrizia by the time the red carpet for Gucci rolled around, but she still gave us the gaudy, over-the-top style we craved. For the London premiere, she wore—what else?—Gucci, but not just any Gucci: an extravagant purple number with flowing sleeves that defy the word "dramatic." She paired that with platform heels and got all flirty with Adam Driver, who, by the way, was just wearing a plain old suit. She told British Vogue she wanted "painful Italian glamour" for this press tour. She's putting herself through the wringer every step of the way. —EZ