For MGM / United Artists’ Gucci house, Jared Leto plays Paolo Gucci, the middle-aged, overweight, and balding cousin of Adam Driver’s Maurizio Gucci. For an actor who is used to transforming in movies like 2013 Dallas Buyers Club (which brought him the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor) and this year Small thingsone wouldn’t be surprised if Leto’s presence in the film’s cast goes unnoticed until the final credits roll.
Supporting Leto in his eerily realistic portrait of the one-time black sheep designer of the Gucci family is makeup artist Göran Lundström, who earned a 2019 Oscar nomination for his work. in the Swedish fantasy movie Border. Couple reunited to talk to CHEAP about the process of transforming Leto into Paolo Gucci using Lundström’s prosthetic design, which he put together at breakneck speed in just three weeks.
Jared, you are known for disappearing in a role. What role do hair and makeup play in that process?
JARED LETO I’ve heard of actors who didn’t have this character until they put on their shoes. In this case, I was sent the script to another part; When I read the script, I really connected with this character and I saw a lot of opportunity for heart and humor. When I started doing research, I [knew] This is going to be a pretty intense transition. And I love role-playing work. I love the idea of a mask. In the earliest theaters, actors would wear masks. It’s not just a disguise – a mask is also exposed. My job is to create a life behind the mask, and Göran’s job is to find humanity in the mask. It’s not just about how he combines certain chemicals or chooses the right colors. It is really about creating an individual.
Göran, I hear you met Jared for the first time before taking the job. Is that a typical process for you?
GöRAN LUNDSTRöM This work is unusual in many ways. Basically, it was Jared who hired me – I didn’t even know it was a Ridley Scott project when [Jared reached out to] I. I tried to listen to Jared as much as I could, because he needed to wear [the prosthetics]. He needs to tell me what he wants, because I can’t create something for him that he doesn’t trust. . But usually the manufacturers [that I meet before] cast. In this case, I had an interview with Jared, and I was just trying to do my best to accommodate his needs.
Jared, what made the deal for you?
STOP I’ve seen Border, and you may know there is a master craftsman’s work – there is a genius at work. Then I started asking around town, and everyone had great things to say about Göran. If you have to look at every little liver spot, every sunspot, every patch of skin, every mole on your face, it’s amazing. If [Göran had] make it two-dimensional, he would draw one image every day, over and over.
I said to Ridley, “I’m going to go completely crazy.” Ridley’s genius is that he hires the person he thinks is the best and he doesn’t guess. He expects you to answer, and that’s the great burden he puts on you, that’s confidence. He trusts Göran and I will come up with something that works. Göran’s amazing thing is not only to bring this character to life – and shock the world, as evidenced by people’s reactions to not knowing I’m actually in the movie – he does it. it in the shortest amount of time. I think he had three weeks to do this.
What was the biggest challenge in the first three weeks?
LUNDSTRöM The first thing you have to do is try to figure out what you really have to build. The biggest problem here is that it’s a TV series, not a fantasy. And not just any movie, but one with Al Pacino and Lady Gaga. I just can’t think of it, because the challenge is [already] too demanding. I did the same makeup [jobs] before, but [the audience is] must recognize that actor. [Jared] supposedly as completely reliable as Paolo, this is really difficult. All I can do is do my best without second guessing. I think that’s the problem.
We had photos of Paolo that we used as a guide. But it took me a long time to understand that Jared didn’t want to be recognized. That is very rare. To me, most actors want attention – and most producers don’t really want to pay for actors you don’t recognize.
Three weeks sounds like a lot of time, but what we had to do was not simple. I can’t just sculpt something, mold it, put on silicone and finish. You’re trying things until you get it right – and we don’t have much time to get it right.
What did you chat about Jared’s comfort when he wears prosthetic limbs? I’m sure part of the process is creating something that doesn’t hinder an actor’s performance.
STOP When you’re playing the part of a real person, it’s important to do your due diligence, to make life impressive of that person with as much dignity and grace as you can muster. Paolo Gucci is a public figure, and it’s important to have an image that represents him – that will never be the case. it is in Paulo Gucci. But in the same way that I read articles and talk to friends and family and do research, the same thing is happening outside as well as inside. You go on a journey, and you become a detective. You’re looking at someone’s earlobes, at their hairline, where that person might have lost their hair, or when their hair has turned gray. You become an author, in a sense, and you try to write the best story you can. I know I’m in good hands, but I think we’re both probably losing our minds, because the clock is ticking. We were like a train going straight towards a solid steel wall. I remember saying to Göran, “This can be amazing, but it can also be the worst thing we’ve ever done.” There is really no middle ground – it is one or the other.
Do you also feel that pressure, Göran, since you are essentially designing the appearance of a real person?
LUNDSTRöM What’s more important to me is that Jared looks believable – we don’t pay too much attention to Paolo’s physical appearance, because Jared has a completely different bone structure. I was just trying to put Paolo’s personality into it. But I don’t know what Jared will do with this character. I told him, when I met him last week after the London premiere, that he was acting like he wasn’t wearing makeup, which is really rare. Most people feel all of this on their faces and are just restrained, and Jared doesn’t seem to mind it. He looks casual and relaxed, and it looks very expressive. I think when people watch the trailer, they don’t just notice the makeup – they see his features, which is really believable. I can’t do it with just makeup.
Al Pacino told an interesting story at a Q&A session after the screening in Los Angeles. He said when he got to the set in Italy, he noticed that he was being followed around by a chubby, old Italian guy who he thought was just some weirdo fan. Someone on set had to tell him that it was actually the character Jared. That must make you feel like you both did a pretty good job!
STOP When I shoot Dallas Buyers Club, I remember going somewhere and having people treat me completely differently. Not being recognized by his co-stars is a whole other level – Jeremy Irons told me he didn’t realize it was me in our first scene.
When we try on makeup, I don’t want anyone to see me – we don’t want more voices in the room. But someone from the closet walked in to us, a beautiful and affable Italian man. He saw me and was startled. He started crying. He was very emotional when he saw Paolo Gucci standing in front of him. It was a really tense moment; I was so shocked and didn’t know what to do. But he was the first witness to Göran’s work. This doesn’t happen too often, but there’s a magical synergy, it’s an example of Göran’s craft and art, and it proves how important hair and makeup can be. .
The edited interview is long and clear.
This story first appeared in the December issue of The Hollywood Reporter. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
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