'Fat, short, really ugly': Why the Gucci family are wrong about Al Pacino

Patrizia Gucci is missing the point with her critical verdict on Ridley Scott's 'House of Gucci'

Al Pacino leaves Palazzo Parigi in Milan, Italy, where 'House of Gucci' is being filmed. AP
Al Pacino leaves Palazzo Parigi in Milan, Italy, where 'House of Gucci' is being filmed. AP

The knives are out among the Gucci family after photos were released from the set of Ridley Scott's historical drama House of Gucci, which tells the story of the doomed marriage between Patrizia Reggiani (Lady Gaga), and Maurizio Gucci (Adam Driver), grandson of the label's founder Guccio Gucci. Reggiani was sentenced to 29 years in prison in 1998 after she paid to have her husband assassinated when he left her for a younger woman.

The family have taken particular exception to the casting of Al Pacino as Aldo Gucci, Guccio's eldest son and former Gucci chairman, dismissing him as “fat, short...really ugly” in a statement to Associated Press. Patrizia Gucci, a cousin of Maurizio, continued in the statement that in real life Aldo was “a very handsome man, and very tall.” She added that she speaks on behalf of the entire family, who are “truly disappointed.”

Aldo Gucci.No Use UK. No Use Ireland. No Use Belgium. No Use France. No Use Germany. No Use Japan. No Use China. No Use Norway. No Use Sweden. No Use Denmark. No Use Holland
Aldo Gucci is played by Al Pacino in the upcoming Ridley Scott film 'House of Gucci'. PA

Of course, we all like to remember our relatives in the best possible light. However, it's probably fair to say that most of the film's audience will have no idea what members of the extended Gucci family looked like 30 years ago, so does it really matter if Scott has not cast doppelgangers? Pacino doesn't look like union leader Jimmy Hoffa or film producer Marvin Schwartz either, but that didn't stop critics and audiences alike loving The Irishman or Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. The job of an actor is to convince us they are the person they are playing, and few actors are better qualified to do that than Pacino.

There are perhaps certain historical figures who have made such a cultural impact that attention to detail is required. Audiences would struggle to accept actors who look nothing like the celebrities they play if say it were Elvis or Princess Diana. Such figures are iconic, and the Guccis simply don't fall into this category. The label is famous for its fashions, not for the people that sat in the board room, and the film's strength seems likely to be its incredible story of betrayal and revenge, not its immaculate replication of people we can't even picture.

The objections also seem to overlook the people who are making this film. Quite apart from the fact that most of us would be delighted to have our grandfather portrayed by Pacino, Ridley Scott could hardly be classed as a director who doesn't know what he's doing. The last time Scott cast a revered actor as a monied family patriarch in the latter half of the 20th century, Christopher Plummer picked up an Oscar nomination for his role as John Paul Getty in All the Money in the World. He did this despite shooting all his scenes in just eight days following disgraced Kevin Spacey's removal from the film. Did Plummer look identical to Getty? Again, most of us wouldn't know without further investigation, but he certainly became Getty in the film.

Scott is also the man who brought HR Giger's unforgettable Xenomorphs to screens in the Alien franchise. He clearly has access to the very best make up and prosthetics Hollywood has to offer, and if he didn't feel they were needed for Pacino and co, he probably has his reasons.

In fact, ns it seems the director has been making the film with the full cooperation of the Gucci fashion house, which is no longer owned by the family, and Scott was granted access to the label's wardrobe archive for the production. When Patrizia's statement condemns Jared Leto's portrayal of Paulo Gucci in the film, citing his “unkempt hair and a lilac corduroy suit,” it's worth noting that the suit could in fact have come from this very archive, and certainly has been influenced by it. A cursory Google Image search can also confirm that Paolo's hair was on occasion somewhat unkempt.

Is Patrizia guilty of wearing rose-tinted spectacles in her family reminiscences? Could some bitterness be at play because Scott has collaborated with the Gucci brand but not the family themselves? Or is Al Pacino simply shorter, fatter, and uglier than Aldo Gucci? All are plausible, but ultimately dismissing what has all the hallmarks of a great film because one of the greatest actors of our times doesn't quite look like the real life person he portrays seems a little absurd.

Published: April 17, 2021 04:20 PM

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