There are a million reasons actors often meet the real-life characters they're portraying, but when it came to Patrizia Reggiani, Lady Gaga steered clear.
While there are still weeks left before the release of Ridley Scott's crime biopic House of Gucci, Gaga already has fans praying to the "father, son and House of Gucci," thanks to a few explosive trailers in which she soaks up most of the spotlight. Though the performance is already attracting eager viewers, there's one woman who has not been applauding Gaga: Patrizia herself. "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, an Italian wire service, in March.
So what did Mother Monster have to say about her decision? "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," Lady Gaga told British Vogue. "Meaning that nobody was going to tell me who Patrizia Gucci was. Not even Patrizia Gucci."
The performer, who acts alongside Adam Driver, Jared Leto, Al Pacino and more of Hollywood's brightest stars, didn't even read the book Scott's movie is based on. As Gaga explained, "I did not want anything that had an opinion that would color my thinking in any way."
Instead, she embodied the infamous woman—who served nearly two decades in prison for hiring a hit man to murder her ex-husband Maurizio Gucci—by dyeing her hair dark, immersing herself in an accent and taking up photography. "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," she explained to the magazine, "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."
For nine months straight, the world-famous star, who made her leading-lady debut in A Star Is Born—for which she won an Oscar—spoke with an accent in front of and behind the cameras. "I never broke," Gaga confirmed. "I stayed with her."
She was so deep into character that Gaga said she suffered "some psychological difficulty" toward 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. 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," she recalled. "I thought I was on a movie set."
While the actress is not sure if she and Reggiani will ever meet, Gaga is thinking most of her two adult daughters with Maurizio, Allegra and Alessandra.
"I extend to them love and compassion that I'm sure this movie coming out is tremendously difficult or painful for them, potentially. And I wish nothing but peace for their hearts," she said. "I did my very best to play the truth."
See the full feature in the December issue of British Vogue available via digital download and on newsstands Nov. 5.