HOUSE OF GUCCI / Q&A with Actor Jared Leto

HOUSE OF GUCCI / Q&A with Actor Jared Leto

Synopsis : House of Gucci is inspired by the shocking true story of the family behind the Italian fashion empire. When Patrizia Reggiani (Lady Gaga), an outsider from humble beginnings, marries into the Gucci family, her unbridled ambition begins to unravel the family legacy and triggers a reckless spiral of betrayal, decadence, revenge, and ultimately… murder.


Q&A with Actor Jared Leto on “House of Gucci”


Q: When you read the script for “House of Gucci,” was the role of Paolo offered to you, or did you have a choice of roles — and why Paolo? 

Jared Leto: I’d heard about the project for some time and then I heard Lady Gaga was attached, which honestly made me more interested in the project. I’ve always been a huge fan of Ridley Scott ever since as a kid and watched “Alien” and “Blade Runner.”

I’ve always admired his ambition and mastery and always wanted to work with him. I actually met him at a film festival once, walked up to him and told him if he ever needed an extra, give me a call. I was ready for anything and everything, but when I read this script, I just fell in love with the part of Paolo Gucci, all the possibilities were there.

I found him to be incredibly lovable and full of humor. He had a giant heart. I thought there was just a lot of potential to build on those things as well. I had no idea what he looked like. So for me, that wasn’t really a part of the decision-making process. It was more about the spirit of the person and what was on the page.

Then I started to investigate. I read everything that I could, I talked to whomever would talk to me, family and friends. Of course I read the books and got a lot of things translated from Italian. We went to essentially the Italian Library of Congress, trying to look for whatever we could find. I began this journey to discover who Paolo Gucci was. I feel that when you bring to life a real person and you put that on the screen, you have a responsibility to do due diligence to bring an impression of that person to life with as much dignity and grace as possible. That’s what we attempted to do here. It was the experience of a lifetime. I have so much gratitude to have worked with this caliber of creative people. And to step into those Gucci loafers was a lot of fun.

Q: You took it upon yourself to get your own prosthetic designer, Göran Lundström and AnnaCarin Lock.

Jared Leto: We were all strapped for time and we had about three weeks to find the right people to help with the transformation. Of course, Ridley was already shooting at that point, so he just put us in a hotel room in Rome once we found Goran and AnnaCarin.

We just went to town. Nobody slept for a few weeks and we experimented. We had this apothecary where we were trying to make magic happen. We just ended up with the right team, a great one, and people who were willing to do whatever it took in order to bring this to life.

It was challenging as well because this person physically had to exist and live in a world. That’s a really hard thing to do with that nuanced approach to hair and makeup. And, they just did a terrific job, fantastic work.

Q: No one had seen you yet on set. You basically made a major debut the first day you walked on set. It was the first time Ridley saw you. It was the first time Al Pacino or anyone had seen you.

JL: That’s true. it’s safe to say that no one ever saw me out of character for the [duration of the] shoot. We always showed up every day, fully dressed in character — it was important to me to keep that to help [maintain] that illusion, not just for myself, but for everyone. The story’s been told many times, but Al Pacino didn’t recognize me the first few days on set and really brushed me off. He thought that I was just trying to come up and talk to him and bother him.

Eventually the second time, the third time I approached him, someone whispered that’s Jared’s under that — and he just couldn’t believe it. He said it was a beautiful moment for him not to know who I was because he believed it was just an Italian guy that he didn’t know.

It really said a lot about the work. It gave me a really big boost of confidence. I was working with my heroes on this, Jeremy Irons, Pacino, Ridley Scott, three titans of this industry. and of course Adam Driver and Lady Gaga — terrific artists .

For me, it was an opportunity. We all felt this. We had a chance to really get in the ring with one another and see what we were made of and see what possibilities were there and to make mistakes and to fail and to take big risks, big swings. And that’s exactly what we did. I really had a love affair with this character. I quite miss Paolo now.

Q: In the movie, among his father and his cousin, Paolo gets a bad reputation, but was he like that in real life? Truly the visionary of Gucci. His Times obituary said he had created, at one point, 80% of the Gucci catalog.

JL: Paolo is an unsung hero in the Gucci story and for him, it was really frustrating because he was unheard and unseen by the people closest to him, his family. But he did contribute greatly to the company and in this story he’s a bit of A clown prince.

It’s a tragedy. He was a creative force to be reckoned with. There was a lot of his work that’s still intact and celebrated and a part of the Gucci story. He’s firmly entrenched in the success story that is Gucci.

Q: Were there interesting details that you learned about him that didn’t make it to the screen, but [you learned about as] part of your preparation of the character. Can you share that? Any interesting stories about Paolo that we didn’t get to see, but were part of your [research]? 

JL: Yeah, absolutely. I do love that in the film, you get to know some things about them that are nuanced and quite quirky, like the fact that he was a pigeon fancier and raced pigeons, and that he kind of danced through life and celebrated life.

He always had a mischievous twinkle in his eye, but one thing I actually learned about him was the there was a board meeting at one point that the Gucci family had where there was a lot of conflict at that point. Paolo really felt like things were being said in the board meetings. Everyone would renege on their agreements, promises or commitments.

So he brought a tape recorder to this one board meeting. When he took it out of his briefcase, the family literally kicked his ass. They just went nuts and he left that boardroom a bloody mess. He even went to the police and sued some other members of the family. It’s a pretty wild story.

I asked if I really could put it in the film. And [Ridley] said he didn’t have a way to make it work. I always thought that was quite a fascinating example of the conflict that was so alive in that family.

What’s interesting is that Paolo died from heart and kidney failure at the age of 64; he passed away in 1995, just a few months after the murder of his cousin.

Mt. ETO, Gucci. Paolo ever knew that something was up with that she couldn’t be trusted, that she was planning something. I think that people had, there were some instincts, some idea that something wasn’t right, uh, there, but you know, no one had proof, no one had enough proof to, uh, do what was necessary.

At that time, there were a lot of questions about who else was involved? Was it about money? Was this about something else? I think that’s what makes this story compelling. There’s a lot of mystery there. In launching this movie it reminds me a lot of “The Godfather” and I know that was an important, north star, for the screenwriter as well.

Q: Did its credo cross your mind in preparing for the role, 

JL: It didn’t, but when people have brought up “The Godfather” before — they had some similar characteristics. Paolo was a guy who could never put things together in quite the right way. He was still lovable and had a big heart and was an important part of the family. So I can see there’s some common ground there.

Q: Talk about working with Ridley. He’s a visualist, but I remember you and the cast, in the first screening discussion for the film, talking about Ridley, letting the camera roll. Can you talk about those moments? Did Scott leave a lot of room for improv? Is there a lot of going off-script in a good way, organically?

JL: You couldn’t shut me up, that’s for sure. I came to set every day with a Bible of dialogue and things to try out and experiment with. That’s something that’s part of my process. I’ve learned as an actor, you don’t wait and ask for permission. You really have to be polite with your creative impulses. I don’t mean to be rude. Of course you’re always kind and as generous and good as humanly possible and a great partner, but you should never be too shy to try and fail. I certainly was aiming to fail every single day on the set.

Q: Tell us about the makeup. It was six hours in the makeup chair to get into character. Was this by far the most transformative role that you’ve ever played? I know you gained weight, and then you’ve lost weight. Can you talk about that?

JL: I’m really fascinated by immersive, transformative and transformational work. It’s exciting to me. I like to see other actors do it. I really enjoy diving deep like that. I’ve just found it really rewarding.

Q: As far as your hair goes, did you ever have to cut your hair to put on the bald cap?

JL: I had forgotten until earlier someone had said that my hair was down to here cause it was during COVID [and I had let it grow]. We went and shot this film — they literally deserve an award just for hiding all that hair. and since we had some Morbius reshoots, we couldn’t cut it.

The hair and makeup on this project were absolutely genius and I really am so grateful to them. Not only did they do a beautiful job, but they did it in such a short amount of time. We had three weeks to get ready, which is possible.

We went to a couple of people that just said no — very respected, craftspeople, on makeup and hair. “There’s no time, you can’t do this. It’s too short. [of time].” This team was crazy enough to say yes, and good for them. They did phenomenal work.

Q: Did you feel when you were hindered in everything that you were with? It was easy to move. It enhanced your character. 

JL: I never even thought about the hair and makeup. I never even felt it. for me, it was just a part of who I was and, the physical part of it is really fascinating.

Whether it’s hair and makeup or the way you walk or talk or your accent, the rhythm, the range. All of that is meaningless. If you don’t have that and the soul and the spirit this character that’s absolutely. That’s the crux [of it].

Q: It’s crucial. I love that scene between you and Lady Gaga. I wonder, were they at times, were they friends or were they always frenemies? Was she someone, he always had a watch out for as much as everyone else. 

JL: I think they’re connected and related and had fun. they had a lot of laughs together. They certainly weren’t enemies and they certainly weren’t always trying to manipulate one another.

I enjoyed working with Lady Gaga. She was just such an amazing partner in crime. And we had a tons of it. It was really exciting to be in those scenes and to take the gloves off of one another and just go to town. So much of what we did in those scenes was spur of the moment whether it was the dancing together.

I remember in that scene, we did it in the first take. I just started dancing and then Ridley came over and wanted us to dance. I wanted to sit down longer and longer and every dance was a little longer. It was fantastic. I remember dancing and I threw my back out in the scene and he’s just a hot mess. It was a blast.

Q: What about rugby? you’re playing when we first meet you. 

JL: It was a game they play in Florence that’s very similar to rugby, but even more violent. It was a fun way to start. I was a little worried. I was going to get my ass kicked a little bit too much, and then they sent me over there that day.

Q: Did he shoot all of the film in sequence? We see you in order but did things jump around?

JL:  For me, it was pretty sequential. It was fun to work that way too, because it helped the logic of scenes, but it’s not a necessity. I’m so used to working out of order.

It doesn’t really matter to me. but it’s a luxury, and working with Ridley, he’s a genius. He’s one of the titans of this industry. I’ve always loved and adored his work. It’s made a huge impact on me and throughout my life. He’s taught me about storytelling instead of photography and acting.

A lot of people put him in the category of a shooter. He’s a guy who’s just a visual master but he’s really an actor’s director. He gets into the thick of it. He loves to break things. He gives actors the freedom to experiment, to fail. That’s a gift of a lifetime.

Q: He was a producer on ”Blade Runner 2049”— didn’t you meet him then? 

.JL: I did. Actually there was some shit. There were days that he was on the set and that was intimidating and exhilarating.

Q: So Morbius. You brought it up. Sony is making us wait just a little while longer to see it. It’s going to be worth the wait. Can you tell us more? 

JL: Yeah. This film has been moved a hundred times due to COVID and I think it’s a good thing. We moved it again from January to April. First of this year, it would give more people a chance to see the film in the theaters.

I’ve been part of two movies back to back now that are exclusively in theaters. I love streaming and the streamers. I watch them, I’m a huge consumer of film and television and documentary.

But I also love film. I love cinema. I’m really proud to have two films that are exclusively in theaters and I’m excited come April 1st that people are ready to get back into theaters hopefully. Morbius is a big, giant fun action, adventure, fantasy popcorn movie. I had a blast with it and I’m excited for people to see it.

Q: What’s next for you? Are you going to return to play the Joker? And there’s a rumor of [you making] Tron. What is the most immediate?

JL: Tron is real and we’re actively developing it. We have a script; they’re working on it. I’ve always been a huge fan of Tron. I loved both films and for me, the ’80s film made a huge impact on my life. I used to play the video nonstop as a kid. I loved everything about it. The music, the costumes, the look, it was breakthrough technology at the time. The animation was astounding. We have something very special and it’s very, very close.

Q: I’m really excited about that one. 

JL: This year, it’s possible. We’re very close to having a script that is ready — then we go off and film. We have that and we also have “WeCrashed,” which is the story of WeWork, Adam Newman, Rebecca Newman and that storied company. How they built this company from nothing into a $7 billion empire. So that’s coming out on Apple+ on March 18th, I believe so that’s first. And then there’s Morbius.

Here’s the trailer of the film.

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