On the red carpet — or actually black carpet — at the "House of Gucci" premiere in New York City, TODAY chatted with the film's screenwriter, Roberto Bentivegna.
The film — out in theaters everywhere Nov. 24 — profiles the 1995 assassination of Maurizio Gucci, who was shot to death during a hit hired by his estranged wife. This shocking event happened to take place right around the corner from where Bentivegna lived as a child.
"I grew up in Milan," he told TODAY. "I used to play very close to where Maurizio was was killed as a kid and my mother's a fashion designer. So I grew up around mannequins and fabrics and I never really looked for a fashion movie. It wasn't like I've got to write something related to fashion. But there was kind of like this weird cosmic thing guiding me towards this based on all of these facts."
Growing up so close to the murder of Gucci informed his intimate connection with this tragedy, despite being interested as well in another infamous fatal fashion moment that coincidentally happened around the same time.
"I read articles when all of the the events happened which was around '95, and it was either before or after Versace was murdered," he remembered. "So there was these two big, big murder stories that were both about fashion icons. I knew that I wanted to make movies when that happened. I was 12 years old. I probably didn't look at those articles and think, 'OK, I'm gonna write this.'"
The film's screenplay is based on Sara Gay Forden’s 2000 book "The House of Gucci: A Sensational Story of Murder, Madness, Glamour." At Tuesday's premiere, producer Giannini Franco said during a curtain speech she had been working to bring the book to the screen for almost two decades, ultimately working with her now husband — director Ridley Scott — on the project.
"Over the years, I remember seeing things pop up about the Gucci movie that was almost gonna get made but not," Bentivegna said. "I do remember thinking, 'I wish I could write this.' It took a long time for Ridley and Giannini to find me. But yeah, it was a dream."
In the film, Lady Gaga stars as Patrizia Reggiani, the ex-wife of Gucci who was convicted of hiring a hit man to shoot her estranged husband dead. There's been quite a lot of conversation on Gaga's accent for the role.
“I started with a specific dialect from Vignola, then I started to work in the higher-class way of speaking that would have been more appropriate in places like Milan and Florence,” she added. “In the movie, you’ll hear that my accent is a little different depending on who I’m speaking to.”
But not everyone has been a fan.
“I feel bad saying this, but her accent is not exactly an Italian accent, it sounds more Russian,” "House of Gucci" dialect coach Francesca De Martini, who worked with Salma Hayek on set, told The Daily Beast.
When confronted with this criticism, Bentivegna uses an example from the great cinematic universe as a fitting example of why it works.
"One of the films that I was inspired by was 'Scarface,' and that has one of the weirdest accents ever, with all due respect to Al (Pacino)," he said on Tuesday night, referring to another star of "House of Gucci." "It's very big, you know? It's very colorful. And by doing these kinds of accents, you're putting the film in a very specific-tonal place, which is operatic and a little bit sort of surreal."
"I think for the film it's great. I think for the kind of movie that we made it's great. We didn't make a documentary, we didn't make a truthful representation of Italians. So yeah, I think it works."
Another buzzed about piece of fodder is that Gaga didn't meet the woman she's playing, who is still alive today.
“I am rather annoyed at the fact that Lady Gaga is playing me in the new Ridley Scott film without having had the consideration and sensibility to come and meet me,” Reggiani told ANSA, translated from Italian, in March 2021. “It is not an economic question. I won’t get a cent form the film. It is a question of good sense and respect."
On this, Bentivegna — who hasn't met her either despite telling her life story — said, "I'd love to meet her."
"I'd love to have a coffee with her but I'd do that after the movie is out," he said. "Meaning now that we the process is over, of course, it's a different story. I think all of us we just didn't want to be affected or influenced by the real characters, the real people. We're making a work of fiction. It's a creative interpretation. We're not trying to be faithful to anybody or anything and inevitably Patrizia is going to have a very specific, a very biased-angle."
"So I think it was a wise choice on Gaga's part."