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Jared Leto Confirmed to Play Chanel Designer Karl Lagerfeld

The "House of Gucci" actor is transforming into the late German fashion designer who ruled over the Chanel brand since 1983. He'll also produce the biopic.

Karl Lagerfeld, Jared Leto

Karl Lagerfeld, Jared Leto

Getty

Academy Award winner Jared Leto is moving from the “House of Gucci” to the cult of Chanel.

The actor is set to play former Chanel artistic director and fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld in an upcoming biopic. Leto will produce the film with Emma Ludbrook through their production company Paradox.

Lagerfeld died in February 2019 at age 85. Lagerfeld’s former fashion house chief executive Pier Paolo Righi, senior vice president of image and communications Caroline Lebar, and Lagerfeld’s personal assistant and bodyguard Sébastien Jondeau will all serve as executive producers and provide insight on the late designer.

“Karl was an artist. Period. He was a fashion designer, he was a photographer, he was an artist. There was no defining him. He was a creative powerhouse,” Leto told WWD. “I feel like this is a full-circle moment, and Karl would be proud of what we are doing.”

The upcoming film is supported by the Karl Lagerfeld fashion house, which told WWD that the feature will focus on “key relationships in Karl Lagerfeld’s life, told through an unpredictable lens, much like the man himself.” No director is officially attached yet to the feature.

“There are a multitude of relationships to explore. Karl had a career that spanned 50-plus years, so both personally and professionally he was close to a number of people,” Leto said. “I can say we are going to home in on key relationships that convey different parts of his life. My role is to portray him on screen as honestly as possible.”

Leto continued, “With celebrity, most people don’t get to see under the surface. They see one or two facets of a person as presented through a public lens. Karl was a human being. We all have beauty within us and we all have faults. We have masks and then we have moments when we reveal the mask. I’m always interested in seeing what’s behind the mask.”

Lagerfeld is set to be the theme of the 2023 Met Gala, titled “Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty.” The late Chanel designer also worked as the creative director of Fendi and his own eponymous label. Lagerfeld formerly made controversial comments about size inclusivity, the “prosecution” within the #MeToo movement, and was openly anti-gay marriage. Oscar nominee Kristen Stewart famously was Lagerfeld’s muse in his later years, with Stewart still serving as the face of the Chanel brand.

Leto previously played real-life designer Paolo Gucci in Ridley Scott’s “House of Gucci.” Leto told IndieWire that “the mask is a mask. It can disguise, it can also reveal. It’s meaningless though if you don’t hug the heart the soul and the spirit. It’s nothing.”

“When I play a real person, I have an obligation to do my homework and do my best to represent and bring an impression,” the “Dallas Buyers Club” alum said. “But I can never be the person.”

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