A nuanced actor who can go toe to toe with the likes of Al Pacino in House of Gucci, Lady Gaga also taps into issues around class and gender that render her flawed character Patrizia Reggiani continually on the margins in that world of privileged men. In an award-worthy performance, Gaga is both authentic as the working-class wife of Gucci heir Maurizio Gucci, on whom she was later convicted for ordering a hit. And she also proves her mettle as an LGBTQ+ icon. As evidenced by a scene in the trailer, just two well-punctuated taps on an espresso cup with a spoon while low-key warning a female friend (Camille Cottin) of Maurizio’s to steer clear of her husband is queer camp to the core.
The film from Ridley Scott stars Adam Driver as Maurizio, Pacino as his uncle Aldo Gucci, Jeremy Irons as Maurizio’s father, Rodolfo Gucci, and Jared Leto as his foppish cousin Paulo Gucci. Patrizia, a siren with big dreams and a shred of business acumen, attempts to pierce the empire of men and make a name for herself, only to be given limited access until Maurizio shuts her out entirely. To call Patrizia vengeful is inaccurate, Gaga tells The Advocate in a brief interview. She sees her character’s desperate actions in putting a hit out on her estranged husband was an act of “survival.”
“I did lean into her class and gender to play her because that's reality. And that's what's real about this role. This idea that women use money and sex and greed as a way to make it in the world,” Gaga says. “I thought that that was actually a stereotype that would perpetuate a view of women that I don't believe. It also wasn't true.”
“Now, was Patrizia a good person? Later in her life, she proved to make reprehensible mistakes. But earlier in her life, there was a time she was a child. And I had to find her child and I had to love her. But I did lean into gender, I did lean into power and privilege and the nature of how she grew up,” Gaga adds. “She was never as privileged as the Guccis. And you see in the film, no matter what she does, she's never quite one of them. I wouldn't even call her putting a hit out on Maurizio revenge. I would say that for her, it was survival and that she made a mistake in survival mode.”
She's already an Oscar winner for Best Original Song for “Shallow” from A Star Is Born and a Best Actress nominee for that film, and there’s big buzz about a nomination for her role as Patrizia. With few out actors ever winning an Academy Award, when asked about the possibility of representing LGBTQ+ people on cinema’s biggest night in the United States, Gaga, who spoke about being sexually attracted to men and women in a 2009 interview with Barbara Walters, says she would not be who she is without the queer community but that she does not speak for queer people because the community stands on its own.
“You know, I would like to say because I feel that it is right and true to say this, I am a supporter of the LGBTQ+ community, but I do not speak for them. And they do not need me to speak for them,” Gaga says. “I am here to cheer on a radical love and a radical joy that I had the privilege of witnessing since I was a very young girl, and without the LGBTQ+ community, I would not be who I am.”
“What I will say is I'm not here to represent that community because they don't need me to, but I am here to always speak out about what is right and true for all of humanity, that people be loved, that oppression and hatred be a thing of the past. But that requires all of us and it requires us also to know our place,” she adds.
Watch Gaga in her own words with The Advocate below.