Gaga, a Best Actress Oscars hopeful, tells EW that reaching emotional extremes as Patrizia Reggiani left an "indelible branding" on her soul in Ridley Scott's new movie.

Family is everything in Italian culture, and Lady Gaga is unmistakably Italian: "just an Italian girl from New York," she likes to say. (There's a viral YouTube video with 34 separate interview clips of Gaga touting her heritage.)

She's often cited her bloodline as a grounding force during her speedy ascent to Oscar winner for Best Song "Shallow," from 2018's Bradley Cooper-directed blockbuster A Star Is Born: "There's this unspoken thing between Italian Americans — we all sort of nod at each other and smile," Gaga, 35, tells EW, articulating a traditional sense of loyalty rooted in family allegiance. "We feel connected to the old country."

So when the opportunity came to fl ip that notion and dive into the psyche of a woman so psychologically brutalized by kin that she turned to murder, Gaga jumped at the challenge. It's a risk — and an artistic evolution — that could score her a second Academy Award nod.

Gaga initially saw the real-life rising socialite Patrizia Reggiani as "a young girl who fell in love," both with fashion heir Maurizio Gucci (Adam Driver) and the prestige legacy she married into. Reggiani's obsessive passion ultimately led her to hire hit men to shoot Maurizio during their divorce in 1995. The process of exploring the incident for director Ridley Scott in House of Gucci left an "indelible branding" on the actress as she immersed herself in the role.

"I'm not interested in glorifying a killer," says Gaga, who instead sees Reggiani's actions as a comment on "the trauma of living within patriarchal systems."

Lady Gaga in 'House of Gucci'
| Credit: MGM/Universal

So began the transformation, as she gave herself over to the work. Gaga practiced a thick Italian accent for nine months, wrote an autobiography in Patrizia's voice, and disconnected from her actual family to allow her world to become Gucci's.

"I remember this whole story as if I lived it," she says. "I can still, in my heart, feel the stress, the pain, the trauma, the horror, and the absolute terror of being a woman who's lost her looks, who's aged, who's been disposed of by every member of the family.… [Patrizia was] starving for love, starving for a place in the world, starving to matter, and I was starving, too."

House of Gucci
Lady Gaga in 'House of Gucci.'
| Credit: MGM

As painful as the process was, it paid off. Gucci had the biggest box office opening for a drama in two years, signaling hope for adult-oriented films. More significantly, it confirmed that Gaga's Best Actress nomination for A Star Is Born wasn't a fluke, but rather the rise of a bankable actress who found a home while bleeding for her art. And the accolades she's scored on the awards trail thus far are a testament to her commitment.

"I have a masochistic approach to acting," she admits. "I don't think it's necessarily the way, it's just my way." As she says this, you can't help but get the impression that for Gaga, a great performance isn't merely felt, but lived amid the struggle. She sounds like more than just a movie star.

A version of this story appears in the February issue of Entertainment Weekly, on newsstands Jan. 21 and available to order here. Don't forget to subscribe for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.

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House of Gucci (2021 Movie)

Lady Gaga and Adam Driver front Ridley Scott’s grim-and-glam retelling of Patrizia Reggiani’s orchestration of her fashion mogul ex-husband’s murder — and it’s all dressed in jaw-dropping costumes that’ll have you praying to the Father, Son, and House of Gucci.

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