A MARTINEZ, HOST:
In the film "House Of Gucci," Lady Gaga portrays a woman at the center of a real-life scandal in the world of fashion. Now, if you want to avoid spoilers, this might be a good time to cover your ears or at least remove your earbuds. All right, here we go. Lady Gaga's character, Patrizia Reggiani, is famous for two reasons. First, she married Maurizio Gucci, heir to the leather goods dynasty. And then in the 1990s, Patrizia had him killed. Lady Gaga tells us she spent months studying the real Patrizia for her role in Ridley Scott's new film.
LADY GAGA: I read and looked at everything I could possibly watch to understand her. And what I found, you know, pretty quickly was that the Patrizia you see now is at the very end of this film. So a lot of Patrizia I had to sort of reverse the car of her as a woman and go, OK, well, what made her this way? And I had to decide as an actress, did she have the murder gene? You know, was she born a killer? And I don't believe she was. I think she was born an Italian woman in Vignola, Italy, December 2, 1948. And I think that it was these trigger points of trauma throughout her life that turned her into what she became, which was a monster.
MARTINEZ: There's a scene in "House Of Gucci" where Patrizia confronts her husband, Maurizio, who's played by Adam Driver. She tells him that the company, Gucci, is being mismanaged by his uncle, Aldo. And she pushes Maurizio to seize control of Gucci.
(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "HOUSE OF GUCCI")
LADY GAGA: (As Patrizia Reggiani) Do you want to be left in the dust? Want to keep selling coffee mugs in airports? That's your legacy? It's time to take out the trash.
ADAM DRIVER: (As Maurizio Gucci) Patrizia, they are my family.
LADY GAGA: (As Patrizia Reggiani) So am I.
MARTINEZ: How much of a hold would you say the brand of Gucci had on Patrizia?
LADY GAGA: You know, I think that Patrizia was really intrigued that Maurizio didn't want to be part of the family business because she grew up with so much less than him. She couldn't possibly fathom of this idea that you would have a dynasty at your disposal but that you would not take hold of it and cherish it and run it. She was a survivalist. And she was, you know, weaving herself in and out of the family. And I really tried to tap into this idea that, is it less about being opportunistic? And is it more about, how do I take what life is putting in front of me? And how can I be the absolute best at it? How can I seize it? How can I not only survive but win in a way that my family's never won before?
MARTINEZ: Now, we should note the family of Aldo Gucci released a statement about the film this week, saying that the family was depicted as being, quote, "thugs, ignorant and insensitive to the world around them." What do you make of that?
LADY GAGA: You know, my heart really goes out to the family. This must be extremely painful to watch a true-life story come through in what is essentially a - you know, our version of what we believe to be the truth and Ridley's version of the story. So I just - I extend my love to the family. And I did my best to make this performance about something more important than even the story itself, which is a story about women and survival.
MARTINEZ: Now, you spent months practicing Patrizia's accent. And you said that it's a bit like learning a new genre of music. Take us through that process of nailing that accent down.
LADY GAGA: Well, that took a lot of time. And I worked with two dialect coaches, Beatrice Pelliccia and Tim Monich. Beatrice was with me every day on set. And I spoke in my accent all the time. And I don't speak fluent Italian. I speak some Italian. And the Italian that I do speak I speak in my own accent. Or, you know, I've known Donatella Versace for years, so I can speak sometimes like Donatella. So in a way, I took my time to erase the things that I do so that I could study the way that she talked so that it would be authentic and real and specific. So when she's younger, you'll notice her voice is higher. And then later in the film, her voice is lower. So there was a real sort of, like, scientific way that I approached that. And, you know, because I'm a singer, you know, vowel sounds and consonants, all sorts of things - you learn how to do things with your mouth. So I studied in a very particular way, but a lot of it was just the time and the focus and the dedication and living in it.
MARTINEZ: Now, you've said that this role came to you at a difficult time in your own life. Can you tell us a little bit about why that time was difficult for you?
LADY GAGA: I just - you know, I have a hard time with fame, and I have for many years grappled with this sort of existential crisis of loving creating art and also longing for a more private life. And I found this character, and I read it. And I talked to Ridley, and Ridley said to me, you know, she really loved him. And then I thought to myself, that I know how to do, meaning to play a killer and to simply play something that lacks, you know, dynamics, where you just play an evil person for the duration of the film - that is uninteresting to me.
But the idea that she would have been a real young girl and a real woman that fell madly in love and thought she mattered because she was smart, thought she mattered because she was strong, thought she mattered because he loved her and then to be left behind and abandoned, I do think that that was the hat trick with this movie - is that there was heart put into this film. And I think it could have easily been just, you know, something that was compelling to watch. But I think it became something that was compelling but also something that provoked empathy for all the characters, meaning empathy for this family, this war, this war over their own skins and this war over Gucci.
MARTINEZ: Lady Gaga, thank you very much for taking the time with us.
LADY GAGA: Thank you so much.
(SOUNDBITE OF PINO DONAGGIO'S "I COLORI DI DECEMBRE (LAURA'S THEME: THE LAST FAREWELL)") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.