Nothing can stop filmmaker Ridley Scott from getting down to the business of making movies — not reshooting major chunks of a nearly-done film to cut out an alleged sex predator, not pandemics that force major productions to totally rethink how they are done, and certainly not pissed-off iconic families that don’t like that some of their buzziest tragedies are getting the big screen treatment — and that’s to say nothing of his ability to make a meal out of a hair and makeup budget.
Scott’s latest feature speaks to his uniquely go-for-broke ethos, a glitzy, glittery, and decidedly murder-centric drama based on the real-life story of Patrizia Reggiani and Maurizio Gucci (yes, that Gucci). Scott has been trying to make a film about the pair’s twisted love affair (which arguably “ended” in murder, though plenty happened after Gucci was killed in 1995) since the early aughts, and after a series of setbacks, switch-ups, and snags, “House of Gucci” is primed for release later this year.
If set photos and social media posts are any indication, the film will at least look fantastic, with stars Lady Gaga and Adam Driver sporting the very best in ’80s and ’90s fashion (read: shiny, very shiny), all set against a complex, juicy, and straight-up soap opera-y real life drama. Here’s what we already know about the fall release.
It’s Based on a True Story
The film follows the ill-fated love story of Patrizia Reggiani (pictured above with her lawyer Gaetano Pecorella during a 1998 hearing) and Maurizio Gucci, who was the grandson of the founder of fashion empire Gucci. The pair were married in 1973, and enjoyed a glamorous union over the next 12 years, with Patrizia becoming a major socialite and Maurizio rising to power within his family’s lauded fashion house.
After more than a decade together, Maurizio departed for a business trip and, well, never came back. Turns out, it was all a ruse: Maurizio wasn’t actually on a business trip, he was just leaving his wife for a younger woman. Over the course of an acrimonious six years, the pair finally divorced; a year later, Patrizia was diagnosed with a brain tumor.
Three years after that, a hitman (hired by Reggiani, though her family would later argue that her brain tumor had completely changed her personality and thus her sense of right and wrong) killed Maurizio on the steps of his workplace.
The ensuing trial incited a media meltdown that found Reggiani labeled as the “Black Widow.” In 1998, she was convicted of arranging the killing of her ex-husband and sentenced to 29 years in prison. (Spoiler alert: she got out in 2016 and is alive and very much kicking today.)
The film is based on the 2001 book “The House of Gucci: A Sensational Story of Murder, Madness, Glamour, and Greed” by Sara Gay Forden, with a script by Roberto Bentivegna.
It Could Have Starred Angelina Jolie and Leonardo DiCaprio
Scott has been itching to make a film about the Guccis for years, and in 2006 set about doing just that, armed with a script from Andrea Berloff and rumored stars Angelina Jolie (as Patrizia) and Leonardo DiCaprio (as Maurizio). The film never got off the ground for a variety of reasons, but apparently stayed in the Scott family’s blood: in 2012, Ridley’s daughter Jordan Scott stepped in as director, eyeing Penélope Cruz to take over the Patrizia role.
Obviously, that film did not pan out, either, and by 2016, Wong Kar-wai was set to direct it, with Charles Randolph on board to write alongside Berloff and a rumored Margot Robbie in contention for the Patrizia role.
By November 2019, the film moved back into Ridley Scott’s hands, and he set about casting and finding it a studio home. First up: hiring Lady Gaga to star, marking her first film since her turn as Ally in Bradley Cooper’s “A Star Is Born” earned the pop icon a Best Original Song Academy Award for “Shallow” as well as a nomination for Best Actress, which she lost to Olivia Colman in “The Favourite.”
The Cast Is Stacked with Huge Stars and Beloved Talents
Lady Gaga was soon joined by an enviable assortment of co-stars, including two-time Oscar nominee Adam Driver as Maurizio. The cast also includes Al Pacino as Aldo Gucci, Jared Leto as Paolo Gucci, Jeremy Irons as Rodolfo Gucci, and Camille Cottin as Paola Franchi, plus Salma Hayek, Jack Huston, and Reeve Carney.
Filming on the production kicked off in February 2020, with Scott and his cast jetting from Italian location to Italian location, all the better to capture the glamour of the Guccis at its height.
The Gucci Family Isn’t Thrilled About It
But while all that might sound well and good to cinephiles, Adam Driver stans, and Little Monsters, there are a handful of people who have not (nor have they ever been) thrilled to see the story make its way to the big screen: the Guccis.
Even in the film’s earliest incarnations, the Gucci clan has made it clear that they don’t support the project. In 2009, The Cut reported that “Maurizio’s cousin Patrizia Gucci has been telling Italian newspapers she feels bamboozled and betrayed by Giannina Facio, Scott’s wife and one of the pic’s producers, who, she says, spent time with the Guccis in Florence and assured them it would be more a piece of Gucci hagiography.”
That disdain didn’t really fade over the intervening years, and by 2021, even Reggiani was speaking out against the film (and, specifically, Lady Gaga herself). In March, the real Reggiani said she’s “rather annoyed” that Gaga never contacted her or met her prior to filming “House of Gucci.”
“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,” Reggiani told Italian news agency Ansa (via The Independent). “It is not an economic question. I won’t get a cent from the film. It is a question of good sense and respect.”
A month later, cousin Patrizia Gucci again spoke out against the project. “We are truly disappointed. I speak on behalf of the family,” Patrizia Gucci told AP. “They are stealing the identity of a family to make a profit, to increase the income of the Hollywood system. … Our family has an identity, privacy. We can talk about everything, but there is a borderline that cannot be crossed.”
According to Patrizia, she did not hear back from Ridley Scott’s wife, Giannina Facio, when she reached out to get a better understanding of the filmmaker’s intentions. Patrizia said Facio met with members of her family in the early 2000s while developing a different film, one that was to focus on the roles “her father, Paolo, and grandfather, Aldo, [played] in expanding the brand into a global luxury player.” That the “House of Gucci” team did not contact the family for the new movie “only heightens the family’s concerns.”
One of the biggest concerns Patrizia Gucci has with Scott’s new film is the casting of Al Pacino and Jared Leto as Aldo and Paolo Gucci, respectively. As the Gucci heir said, “My grandfather was a very handsome man, like all the Guccis, and very tall, blue eyes and very elegant. He is being played by Al Pacino, who is not very tall already, and this photo shows him as fat, short, with sideburns, really ugly. Shameful, because he doesn’t resemble him at all.”
As for Leto, Patrizia condemned the set photos revealing the Oscar winner’s “unkempt hair and a lilac corduroy suit” as Paolo. “Horrible, horrible,” she said. “I still feel offended.”
Cinematographer Dariusz Wolski Calls It a “High-End Soap Opera”
Does that all sound a bit, well, soapy? That seems fitting. Scott’s cinematographer Dariusz Wolski recently sat down with The Film Stage to tease the upcoming film, and it appears as if soap opera nuttiness is already deeply ingrained in the project.
Of “House of Gucci” he said, “This film, because it’s high fashion ’80s and ’90s, it’s going to be a little different. I’m still trying to find a look for it. The ‘80s weren’t a particularly good-looking period. The fashion world or these fashion shows, they were not that great looking. You look at the big coats and stuff and [go] hmm… So it’s a bit of a kitschy, funny, tragic tragedy — like a high-end soap opera.”
Oscar-Winning Costume Designer Janty Yates Will Bring Crazy, Kitschy Fashion
Not “good-looking”? Tell that to Scott’s frequent costume designer Janty Yates, who appears to have had quite the time outfitting the film’s many stars across two decades of fashion. Yates, who won an Oscar for her work on Scott’s “Gladiator,” is the filmmaker’s go-to costumer, and she’s shown a real knack for working across decades and periods.
Yates is responsible for the sartorial looks in Scott films like “All the Money in the World,” “American Gangster,” “Robin Hood,” and “The Martian,” plus Scott’s other new film, the 14th century-set “The Last Duel,” so there’s little she can’t do. Yates has also worked with Michael Mann (“Miami Vice,” perhaps the best indicator yet of what she can do with color and excess), Gillian Armstrong, and Irwin Winkler, all on period-set films that require deep understanding and research. “House of Gucci” seems poised to be her spangled, glittery, big-haired opus.
It Just Wrapped Production This Week
After filming around Italy since February, “House of Gucci” wrapped production on May 9, with Lady Gaga sharing a special message of thanks to the country and its people on her Twitter account.
The star wrote, “I wish to thank all of Italy for cheering me on while I film this movie—I hug & kiss you, tell you I believe in you…prayers…to my place of origin—a country built on the promise of hard work & family. I hope I made you proud. I’m proud to be Italian. Ti Amo.”
Gaga’s big love for the country seems warranted: the production has zipped around the country (while adhering to COVID safety precautions), including going on location in Rome, the Italian Alps in the Aosta Valley, Florence, Lake Como, and Milan.
The Film Will Debut This Year
The seemingly speedy shoot — still, somehow, Scott’s second during the pandemic; he wrapped “The Last Duel” last October — is all in service to an already-set release date: November 24. “House of Gucci” will hit theaters just in time for Thanksgiving (a fun bit of anti-family programming, perhaps?), care of United Artists Releasing (the distribution arm of MGM).
Cinephiles eager to catch it on streaming will have that chance, too: while all of MGM’s newest films are still set for exclusive pay television window with Epix, a new deal with Paramount+ will make those same films available on the streaming platform at some point after their theatrical rollout, including “House of Gucci.”
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