What do Marlon Brando, Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Heath Ledger, and Jared Leto all have in common? Well, they’re all method actors, of course! And now, we can officially add Lady Gaga’s name to that very prestigious list. As the pop superstar-cum-Hollywood leading lady gears up for the quickly approaching premiere of her next Oscar-bait drama House of Gucci, she recently revealed that, in preparing for her starring role as Patrizia Reggiani, she actually “lived” as the real-life possible murderess for an impressive year and a half.
The actress disclosed this tidbit of information in a recent cover story for British Vogue, first noting that, by the time of her interview, she had been working on the project (in one form or another) for at least three years. “I will be fully honest and transparent: I lived as [my character] for a year and a half,” she admitted, later specifying that she did so both on and off camera — a true mark of a committed method actor. “I never broke. I stayed with her,” she added.
Naturally, this involved embracing Reggiani’s Italian accent, something she apparently did for nine of those months. The actress even practiced speaking in different dialects, noting that viewers would be able to “hear that [her] accent is a little different depending on who [she’s] speaking to.” (For what it’s worth, much ado has been made about the actress’ Italian accent, which has been heard in bits in pieces throughout the film’s two official trailers.)
And if you think accent work is easy, Gaga is here to let you know that this decision necessitated other shifts in her everyday life. “It was nearly impossible for me to speak in the accent as a blonde,” the noted fan of blond hair pointed out. Ultimately, she was forced to do the only thing any self-respecting method actress would do in that situation: dye her hair. It also altered her relationships with those closest to her, prompting “some silence and some disconnect” with her parents; her sister, Natali; and her boyfriend, Michael Polansky.
The toll it took extended to her own psyche too. “I had some psychological difficulty at one point towards the end of filming. I was either in my hotel room, living and speaking as Reggiani, or I was on set, living and speaking as her,” she said, explaining that it became difficult to separate real life from film life. “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.”
But perhaps the most interesting reveal involved Gaga’s decision to avoid “anything that had an opinion that would color [her] thinking in any way.” This entailed never actually reading The House of Gucci: A Sensational Story of Murder, Madness, Glamour, and Greed, the 2000 Sara Gay Forden book that gives the film its narrative structure. But it also meant never actually meeting with the very much still alive Patrizia Reggiani — something the now-freed figure is allegedly not too keen about.
“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,” Gaga explained of this particular methodical technique. “Nobody was going to tell me who Patrizia Gucci was. Not even Patrizia Gucci.”
Instead, the actress relied on what British Vogue described as her “artist-cum-journalist” approach to studying the real-life figure she’d eventually be embodying on camera. This involved poring over newspaper clippings and recordings of Reggiani, but also taking photographs as “an exercise” for character exploration — even if nothing in history suggests that Reggiani was a photographer herself. “I took my point-and-shoot camera everywhere that I went,” she said. “I noticed that Patrizia loved beautiful things. If something wasn’t beautiful, I deleted it.”
In the end, Gaga cited the entire process as “the experience of a lifetime.” “Every minute of every day, I thought of my ancestors in Italy and what they had to do so that I could have a better life,” she said. “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.”
House of Gucci hits theaters in just a few short weeks, and already, the Oscar campaign for Lady Gaga seems to be mounting. In addition to today’s stunning British Vogue cover, the multi-talented performer also unveiled an equally fabulous cover for Vogue Italia. Check out both below.
House of Gucci hits theaters nationwide on November 24.