Director Ridley Scott Defends Al Pacino Amid Gucci Family's "Alarmingly Insulting" Remarks

House of Gucci has caused a stir amongs the Gucci family, who called Al Pacino's performance "shameful." Director Ridley Scott was quick to step in and defend the Academy-Award winner.

By Jake Thompson Nov 30, 2021 10:31 PMTags

The House of Gucci controversy continues...

Just days after the highly anticipated crime drama hit movie theaters, the heirs of Aldo Gucci, who served as chairman of the Gucci fashion house, didn't mince words when slamming the on-screen portrayal of their famous family. "This is extremely painful from a human point of view," the family said in a statement. "And an insult to the legacy on which the brand is built today." 

The movie, which premiered worldwide in theaters on Nov. 24, follows the real-life story of socialite Patrizia Reggiani (played by Lady Gaga), who served nearly 20 years in prison for hiring a hit man to murder her ex-husband, Maurizio Gucci (played by Adam Driver). The film details the complicated family business and dynamics. 

Patricia Gucci—Aldo's only daughter—had some pointed words for Al Pacino regarding his performance of her father, calling his version "shameful, because he doesn't resemble him at all." She went on to single out the Scarface performer's physicality, calling Pacino's portrayal "fat, short, with sideburns, really ugly." 

One person in particular isn't having the Pacino shade: director Ridley Scott. The Star Wars filmmaker was quick to step in and defend the Hunters actor and addressed the criticism head-on. In a recent interview with Total Film, he said that he tried to be "as respectful as possible by being as factual as possible" to the real-life story. Scott called the family's statement "alarmingly insulting" especially when singling out The Godfather legend.

House of Gucci Cast vs. Real Life

"The people that were writing from the family to us at the onset were alarmingly insulting, saying that Al Pacino did not represent physically Aldo Gucci in any shape or form," Scott explained. "And yet, frankly, how could they be better represented than by Al Pacino? Excuse me! You probably have the best actors in the world, you should be so fucking lucky." 


Scott also added of the film's tone, "I think a lot of it is comedic. Certainly for the first two acts. Jared Leto, there's not a lot of information about [his character] Paolo, but there are pictures of Paolo and that's exactly what Paolo looks like."

He went on to explain how production found pictures of Paolo, and Jared dressed accordingly. "There's not a lot of Paolo on camera talking," he said. "And so that had to be, to a certain extent, imagined, but clearly Paolo was a very colorful and flamboyant man."

Since the interview with Scott, the Gucci family has once more criticized Scott and the film, saying that Aldo and Paolo are portrayed as "thugs, ignorant and insensitive to the world around them."

"The flamboyance of Paolo was quite nicely captured," the Blade Runner 2049 director adds. "And how could that be offensive? We paid attention to not getting too overt if we can avoid it."

Keep scrolling to compare the A-list cast to their real-life counterparts below. 

Lady Gaga as Patrizia Reggiani

Dubbed "the Black Widow" by the Italian tabloids but known as "Lady Gucci" in more genteel circles, Reggiani admitted to wanting her ex-husband dead, livid over his impending marriage to a much younger woman and his $170 million windfall from the sale of his Gucci stock in 1993, two years after their divorce was finalized. And she admitted to being happy after he was dead, thinking all her problems were finally gone.

But she maintained her innocence in the murder-for-hire plot, telling writer Sara Gay Forden in correspondence from jail, "Maurizio was a man that I had loved most, despite all of his mistakes.'"

Reggiani and four accomplices were convicted of murder after a five-month-long trial in 1998.

Born in the northern city of Vignola in humble circumstances, she and Maurizio Gucci were both 24 years old when they married in 1973—despite his father Rodolfo Gucci's concerns.

"Be careful, Maurizio," Rodolfo told him, per Forden's 2000 book House of Gucci. "I have received information about the girl. I do not like the sound of her at all. I am told she is vulgar and ambitious, a social climber who has nothing in mind but money. Maurizio, she is not the girl for you."

To which his son replied, "Papá, I can't leave her. I love her."

Reggiani persuaded Maurizio to be more ambitious in his role at Gucci, and it was during their marriage that he became head of the company. "As a younger man, he'd looked to Patrizia to support him and give him the strength to stand up to his own father, but as he gained power, he felt oppressed by her criticism," Forden told the New York Post. They separated in 1985.

First sentenced to 29 years in prison for paying $375,000 to have Maurizio killed, an appeals court reduced her term to 26 years and she was released in October 2016. In 2017, according to Britain's Telegraph, a court ruled that she was legally entitled to an annual allowance of $1.2 million from Maurizio's estate, plus back payments from the 17 years she was in prison, per the terms of an agreement he signed two years before he was killed.

"Maurizio always loved me, he wanted me to have the best," Patrizia said on People Magazine Investigates: Crimes of Fashion in 2018. "But he changed completely." She also said, cryptically, "I am not guilty, but I am not innocent. All the things that happened were a misunderstanding."

Adam Driver as Maurizio Gucci

Maurizio and Patrizia were the definition of a jet-setting power couple during their marriage, which produced daughters Alessandra and Allegra. Though they didn't divorce until 1991, their union effectively ended when Maurizio literally walked out in 1985, telling Patrizia he was going on a short business trip and then just never coming home.

A grandson of Gucci founder Guccio Gucci, Maurizio inherited his father Rodolfo Gucci's entire stake in the family business when Rodolfo died in 1983 and set about pushing his uncle Aldo Gucci out. By June 1988, Bahraini firm Investcorp had bought up 47.8 percent of various family members' shares for a total of $135 million, leaving Maurizio, who succeeded Aldo as chairman, the largest shareholder with 50 percent. But his shares were sequestered by the Italian government while he was being sued by Aldo and two of his sons, who accused him of forging Rodolfo's signature in his bid to seize control.

Maurizio wasn't able to turn the financially strapped Gucci Group's fortunes around, however, and he sold off the rest of his shares to Investcorp in 1993 for a reported $170 million.

On the morning of March 27, 1995, Maurizo was shot four times on his way into his office at Via Palestro 20 in Milan. The 46-year-old died at the scene. The gunman also shot and wounded the doorman, who witnessed the whole thing.

When police arrived, Corporal Giancarlo Togliatti asked who the victim was. When a colleague told him it was Maurizio Gucci, he sarcastically fired back, "Right, and I'm Valentino."

Camille Cottin as Paola Franchi

The interior designer lived with Maurizio for five years before his death and, according to Paola, they were planning to get married.

Painted almost as villainously as Patrizia was during the trial, with critics assuming she was after that Gucci fortune, she told The Guardian in 2016, "Oh, they always resort to these stupid [stereotypes]. Actually my previous husband, whom I left for Maurizio, was even richer, so it was all nonsense."

After her lover's divorce was finalized, "Patrizia was stalking us," Paola alleged. "She still had spies in Maurizio's circle and she knew all about our plans, his business dealings, everything. She called many times abusing him and threatening to kill him." 

"I begged him to hire a bodyguard, but he refused. He didn't believe Patrizia would go through with her threat because of their girls."

The day after Maurizio was killed, Paola said, Reggiani sent her an eviction notice, wanting her out of the apartment on Corso Venezia that Paola had shared with Maurizio and her 11-year-old son, Charly, from her previous marriage. Reggiani and her daughters then moved into the apartment.

Five years later, Charly took his own life while visiting his father for Christmas. "It was completely unexpected," Paola told The Guardian. "He was a happy, shining boy, greatly loved. We think it was a flash of teen madness." Reportedly gesturing to photos of her son and Maurizio on display in her home, she explained, "I like to have their faces around, to say hello. For a year after Charly died I felt a rage in my soul, but then I got on with life. I'm the kind of person who has to keep moving forward."

Jeremy Irons as Rodolfo Gucci

The youngest of Guccio Gucci's five sons, Rodolfo inherited a piece of the business when Guccio died in 1953, along with brothers Ugo, Aldo and Vasco. (Another brother, Enzo, died in childhood.) They also had a sister, Grimalda Gucci, but the company was set up so that female heirs, while some served on the board, never had ownership.

Before his father's death prompted him to return to the family business (he created the Flora-print scarf for Grace Kelly), Rodolfo was an actor who appeared in more than 40 films as Maurizio D'Ancora, and he married actress Sandra Ravel in 1944.

Maurizio Gucci was their only child and, when Rodolfo died in 1983, he left his stake in the company to his son.

Al Pacino as Aldo Gucci

A spry, impeccably dressed businessman who was said to inspire familial-style loyalty in his employees, the eldest biological son of company founder Guccio Gucci (Ugo was Aida Gucci's child from a prior relationship and Guccio adopted him when they married in 1902) was responsible for the label's expansion into new markets—first New York, eventually the rest of the world.

"Aldo always wanted to do things with the agreement of the entire family," longtime Gucci employee Franco Gittardi recalled, per Forden's book. "He may have brought the ideas, but the decisions were always taken by the family board. That said, they usually let him have his way because he always had the right instincts."

Aldo started working for Gucci in 1925, when he was 20, delivering packages by horse-driven carriage. In 1953 he opened the first Gucci boutique in New York, confident that customers would pay for quality, and went on to serve as chairman of Gucci Shops Inc. for more than 30 years. However, when Aldo and Rodolfo's brother Vasco died in 1974, they assumed 50-50 ownership of Gucci—which Aldo and his three sons resented, feeling Rodolfo hadn't done nearly as much work in building the company. So Aldo set up a perfume subsidiary and assumed 80 percent of the ownership for himself and his boys and the arrangement turned out to be not entirely kosher according to U.S. law.

In 1986 Aldo was sentenced to a year in prison for tax evasion.

"The various schemes in which the Guccis had been involved began to unravel in 1982 when a falling out took place between Aldo Gucci and his son Paolo," prosecutor Stuart Abrams wrote in his sentencing memorandum. "Ultimately, Paolo Gucci initiated litigation against his father and Gucci Shops Inc. and, in publicly filed court documents, revealed some of the schemes discussed above. This litigation came to the attention of the Internal Revenue Service, which instituted an administrative investigation in March 1983."

Aldo died in 1990 at the age of 84. In addition to Paolo he was also father to sons Giorgio and Roberto with first wife Olwen Price, and had a daughter, Patricia Gucci, with his longtime mistress Bruna Palumbo, whom he married in 1987.

Jared Leto as Paolo Gucci

One of Aldo's four children, Paolo was chief designer for Gucci in the 1960s and in 1978 was named vice president of marketing of the American branch of the company.

He was fired from the parent company in 1980 and then tried to start his own eponymous label, suing to be able to use the Gucci name without committing trademark infringement. A federal judge dismissed the lawsuit. Then in 1982 Paolo sued his father, brothers Giorgio and Roberto, his uncle Rodolfo and cousin Maurizio for breach of contract, emotional distress and assault, claiming he was physically attacked by his brothers and cousin during a board meeting in Italy. 

Though he reportedly collected $42.5 million when he sold his Gucci shares to Investcorp, the investment firm that eventually ended up owning the majority of the company, he filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 1994 and also spent a short time in jail that year for failure to pay child support.

According to the Washington Post, Paolo died at 64 of complications from chronic hepatitis on Oct. 10, 1995.

Florence Andrews as Jennifer Gucci

Paolo's second wife released her own book in 2010, Gucci Wars: How I Survived Murder and Intrigue at the Heart of the World's Biggest Fashion House.

"The Gucci men are alike—amoral,'' she told the New York Times during Reggiani's trial in 1998. "They are multimillionaire playboys. Nobody has a lot of sympathy for them."

Paolo died in October 1995 while he and Jenny were in the middle of increasingly contentious divorce proceedings, though Patrizia Gucci, a daughter from his first marriage, later disputed that they were ever legally married, saying her father and mother were still in the process of divorcing when he wed Jennifer in 1977.

In 2009, Patrizia slammed Jennifer's efforts to bank on their famous surname with her own lines of skincare products and bedding, telling the New York Daily News, "She never had any sorrow for the death of my father. Now she wants to put the Gucci name everywhere. She just wants more and more."

Jennifer wrote in her book of Paolo, "I was on his side. When I look back I think maybe I shouldn't have been because I see he was very controversial. Maybe the brothers and the fathers were right to fight him. But in a lot of cases they weren't. Paolo was very forward-thinking. He wanted to do a second line of Gucci which every designer in the world has done and he was the first to come up with that idea. And they absolutely killed him on it. They said, You don't know what you're talking about'. There were things thrown across the room."

She also recalled the last time she saw Reggiani, before Maurizio was killed. "We were talking about Paolo and Maurizio and she said, 'I don't know why these boys have changed. Is it just because they've got all the money from the sale of the company? Maurizio used to be the sweetest man in the world, now he's turned against me.' I could tell she was very angry, but I didn't think she would have her husband murdered."

Salma Hayek as Giuseppina "Pina" Auriemma

Because it's a small world after all, Hayek is married to François-Henri Pinault, son of François Pinault, the founder of current Gucci parent company Pinault-Printemps-Redoute (which changed its name to Kering in 2013 and whose other holdings include Yves Saint Laurent and Bottega Veneta).

Auriemma, meanwhile, was a self-styled psychic on Patrizia Reggiani's payroll (Pina later disputed the categorization that she was any sort of mystic) who moved in with her in 1994, ostensibly to help her write a book about her life with Maurizio and the Gucci family.

She would later admit to authorities she helped Reggiani hire a professional killer to get rid of her husband—which Reggiani denied, alleging Auriemma made these arrangements and then blackmailed her into paying 600,000 lire ($375,000) for the hit.

According to prosecutors, Auriemma did call a hotel night porter named Ivano Savioni, whom she knew to be having money troubles. He in turn contacted Orazio Cicala, and they agreed on a price, after which Cicala agreed to hire the hitman. Auriemma arranged to get everyone to discuss the crime over a wiretapped phone line. Ultimately Pina, Savioni, Cicala and the gunman, Benedetto Ceraulo, were all charged and convicted of Maurizio's murder along with Reggiani. 

Ceraulo, who maintained his innocence, was sentenced to life in prison; Cicala, who drove the getaway car, to 29 years; Savioni to 26 years; and Auriemma to 25, but all of the sentences were slightly shortened on appeal some years later. Auriemma was released from prison in 2010.

Mădălina Diana Ghenea as Sophia Loren

The iconic Italian actress moved in the elite circles inhabited by the Guccis and, when Aldo made it a point to start dressing celebrity clientele, was one of the famous names who helped turn the label into an international status symbol.

A new documentary, What Would Sophia Loren Do?, is streaming on Netflix, as is the Oscar winner's most recent film, 2020's The Life Ahead.

Reeve Carney as Tom Ford

The celebrity designer now oversees his own sprawling eponymous empire and has written and directed two award-winning films. But he came to fame when he was appointed creative director of Gucci in 1994, later credited with restoring the brand's relevance among the chic set and reviving its future along with CEO Domenico De Sole. Said to be hovering near bankruptcy when Ford first joined the company as chief women's ready-to-wear designer in 1990, Gucci was worth more than $4 billion by the end of the decade. 

Ford and De Sole departed in 2004 after a contract dispute with corporate owner Pinault-Printemps-Redoute, Gucci Group by then valued at $10 billion.

Jack Huston as Domenico De Sole

A close adviser to Maurizio Gucci, De Sole was CEO of Gucci America before becoming CEO of Gucci Group in 1995. In concert with Tom Ford he immediately set about orchestrating the brand's resurgence, taking the fashion house from $200 million in annual revenue to $3 billion. They both left in 2004 after falling out with PPR and De Sole has been chairman of Tom Ford International since its founding in 2005.