Lady Gaga doesn’t do anything halfway. When she commits to something, whether it’s wearing a meat dress or jumping from the roof at the Super Bowl, she always proves that she really understood the assignment.
That work ethic certainly applied to her starring role in House of Gucci, in which she transformed completely into Patrizia Reggiani, wife (and eventual murderer) of Gucci heir Maurizio Gucci. Her performance has been earning rave reviews since the film premiered on November 24, but her tales of method acting have made just as many headlines.
While method acting isn’t news in and of itself, Gaga’s devotion to becoming Reggiani reached a whole new level. Here are some of the wildest techniques Gaga has revealed during the House of Gucci press cycle, ranging from hilarious to concerning:
Stayed in character for 18 months
Remaining in character after the camera stops rolling is par for the course when it comes to method acting. But Lady Gaga remained in character for a year and a half, as revealed in her November cover story for British Vogue. “I will be fully honest and transparent: I lived as [Reggiani] for a year and a half,” Gaga said, before confirming that this was all off camera. “I never broke. I stayed with her.”
Spoke with an Italian accent for 9 months
Gaga also spent a huge chunk of time trying to nail down Reggiani’s Northern Italian dialect (which, ironically, is one of the most laughed-about aspects of House of Gucci). “I spoke with an accent for nine months of that,” Gaga told Vogue, referring to how she spent her year and a half of method acting.
“It was nearly impossible for me to speak in the accent as a blonde,” she added. “I instantly had to dye my hair.”
Wrote an 80-page biography of Patrizia Reggiani
Lady Gaga famously didn’t meet Reggiani before adopting her persona, but that doesn’t mean she completely ignored the Italian socialite. “I wrote like an 80-page biography about her myself,” she told The Project in December. “And it was something that I worked off of and I read all the time to just get the story, her backstory, inside of me.”
Sat through 4-5 hours of hair prep every morning
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, hairstylist Frederic Aspiras revealed that Lady Gaga wore 55 wigs during the three-hour span of the film—something that added $10,000 to the production’s budget. Aspiras and Gaga would wake up at 3 a.m. every morning to begin prep work, which usually ended up lasting for 4-5 hours.
“For my job, it was about being able to use hair as a tool for the actress to really delve into the mind of this person, who she was portraying,” Aspiras told THR. “If you came to our glam trailer, it was like CSI. Floor-to-ceiling mood boards.”
Carbo-loaded with bread and pasta
In a different feature for THR, Lady Gaga spoke further about her devoting years of her life to her Reggiani character—and this devotion apparently involved a lot of carbo-loading. “She ate more pasta and bread than usual, deliberately gaining weight to have a more rounded figure,” the article reveals.
Watched videos of panthers and foxes
To master Reggiani’s physicality, Lady Gaga took inspiration from three different animals. “I began as a house cat, which has this kind of alluring quality but also can be a bit aloof,” she told the New York Times. “Then, when [a Gucci lawyer] comes to my daughter's school to serve me divorce papers—meaning Maurizio didn't have the courage to do it himself—I transform from a fox into a panther.”
She really took the time to study the movements of panthers, trying to replicate how the creature seduces its pray, slows down before it pounces, and goes into survival mode when it becomes “enraged with starvation and hunger.”
Kept a psychiatric nurse on set
On a far more serious note, Lady Gaga tapped into her own personal trauma to deliver some scenes—a practice which often led to spells of vomiting and fatigue. The experience was so intense that she eventually had to bring in professional help. “I had a psychiatric nurse with me towards the end of filming,” she told Variety. “I sort of felt like I had to. I felt that it was safer for me.”
She decided to share this information not to glorify her craft, but to warn others against taking method acting too far. “I don’t think that any actor should push themselves to that limit,” she said. “I have a sort of romantic relationship with suffering for your art that I developed as a young girl, and it just sometimes goes too far. And when it does go too far, it can be hard to reel it in on your own.”
All of this hard work seems to have paid off. For her performance in House of Gucci, Lady Gaga already won the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress and is now a Golden Globe and Critics Choice nominee. She is also heavily favorited to earn her second Best Actress Oscar nod when the Academy Award nominees are announced on February 7.
Caitlin Morton is a freelance writer based in Kansas City, with more than eight years of experience covering travel, pop culture, and fashion. Her byline has appeared in Condé Nast Traveler, Vogue, Architectural Digest, AFAR, Real Simple, Thrillist, and many more publications.
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