If there were two things pop star Lady Gaga wanted to tell the world, they would be that she’s ready for an illustrious acting career and that she’s Italian. Gaga will get her chance to shine in both ways in her next role, her first since earning an Academy Award nomination for her performance in A Star is Born. This time she’s playing Patrizia Reggiani, ex-wife and convicted murderer of former Gucci fashion house head Maurizio Gucci.
Under the direction of Ridley Scott and with a script by Roberto Bentivegna, the film will be based on Sara Fordon’s book The House of Gucci: A Sensational Story of Murder, Madness, Glamour, and Greed, according to the report from Deadline. While the book exposes the entire rise, fall, and re-ascent of the Gucci house, the real standout story is Reggiani’s.
“Unclear motives” would not be the right term when it comes to Reggiani’s murder of her ex-husband. Rather, the socialite claims to have had too many. Although the couple divorced in 1991, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what made her hire a hitman to kill Gucci four years later. Fordon details the number of issues that may have influenced Reggiani. Two big red flags include Gucci’s absurd spending habits and his entanglements with his much younger mistress.
Before the murder, Reggiani was a well-known member of the fashionable elite. Of course, she was the wife of the grandson of Gucci founder Guccio Gucci, but she was a Milan fashion icon even before her marriage. She was also constantly outspoken; in fact, the socialite’s status only grew with the massive popularity of the trial. Reggiani earned the nickname “Black Widow” in the Italian newspapers.
In interviews that took place after Gucci was killed, she didn’t hold back any of her opinions. She told newspapers that the $365,000 it cost to hire the hitman was “worth every penny.” In an interview with People magazine in 2018, she recalled feeling happy immediately after hearing about Gucci’s death: “All my problems were gone. And then I started feeling very wrong.” Reggiani still pled not guilty, claiming her astrologist had been the one to hire the hitman. It was all under Reggiani’s approval, though, so she was given 29 years in prison.
Gaga may not seem to be a replica of Patrizia “Would Rather Weep in a Rolls-Royce Than Be Happy on a Bicycle” Reggiani. She embraces humility with her celebrity status, showing this with her sobering performance in A Star is Born. However, her ability to stand out amongst a crowd of celebrities goes unmatched. Her influence on the contemporary American star system is the equivalent of Reggiani’s presence in Italian fashion. From her 2010 meat dress to her four outfit changes at last year’s Met Gala, Gaga mirrors the fashionable glamour of Reggiani.
Along with her Oscar-nominated role in A Star is Born, Gaga is also known for her performances on the Ryan Murphy series American Horror Story in its fifth and sixth seasons (Hotel and Roanoke, respectfully). The show, especially the Hotel season, is eerie and campy, which lends itself well to Gaga’s preparation to play the garish Reggiani. In the Hotel season, Gaga’s role is oddly similar to Reggiani: she plays Countess Elizabeth, a beautiful murderer and ex-wife of the hotel’s cruel owner.
There’s another connection to television: Murphy’s American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace, which is based on Maureen Orth’s book Vulgar Favors: Andrew Cunanan, Gianni Versace, and Largest Failed Manhunt in U.S. History, is quite similar to the true-crime story told in The House of Gucci. Both are about the murders of Italian fashion house heads, and strangely the murders took place within a short two-year timespan.
Before Penelope Cruz took the role of Donatella Versace and earned Emmy and Golden Globe nominations for her efforts in The Assassination of Gianni Versace, Gaga had actually been reportedly cast in the part — albeit possibly erroneously. Apparently one of the reasons she couldn’t play that fashion icon was due in part to her being busy with her big movie break with A Star is Born.
There’s been quite a bit of success recently pairing true crime stories with television, with the American Crime Story series as the most relevant case. The Assassination of Gianni Versace and The People v. O.J. Simpson each took home the top prize in their category at the Golden Globes and won Emmys galore. All of this begs the question: why not make this story into another limited series?
This sort of decision between television and film has been in-play with another of Scott’s films. The subjects of his Oscar-nominated 2017 movie All the Money in the World, which is based on the kidnapping of billionaire J. Paul Getty’s grandson, were also given the television treatment a mere year after the film’s release. The one-season series, Trust, was a more fleshed out telling of the Getty family as a whole, whereas All the Money in the World focused more on one specific event.
There’s something about the Gucci murder that lends itself better to a film, rather than another limited series. The answer lies in Gaga, and more specifically, the dramatic role she’s signed on to play. Scott’s film offers a unique opportunity for an intriguing character study amongst a true crime story.
A film has another big pull: a chance at the Academy Awards. Thanks to a wildly successful first awards season for the star, Gaga’s new role could give her the opportunity to do it all over again. The singer made a seamless transition from the music industry to the film industry. After plenty of ritzy red carpet moments and “Shallow” performances, she’s definitely well prepared to woo Academy voters.
While a television series could retell the stories of the Gucci house, a movie will highlight the glossy theme of fame through Reggiani’s involvement. Gaga may be a diva of Super Bowls and Met Galas, but she’s just as much of a diva as Reggiani. Combining two glamorous characters into one, Scott’s film seems to offer up an indulgent examination of murder, fame, and fashion.