Roberto Bentivegna on the writing house of Gucci


Few writers get the kind of big break that Roberto Bentivegna received with Gucci House. Although he wrote and directed a handful of well-received shorts, and his screenplay for eel been on Hollywood’s hallowed blacklist for some time, he was by no means a well-known (or even moderately well-known) name, with virtually no online presence.

Nevertheless, the British-born Italian talent suddenly found himself working on the script for a whopping $75 million Ridley Scott movie populated by Lady Gaga, Adam Driver, Jeremy Irons, Jared Leto and Al Pacino, as well as several other A-list stars. Seemingly out of nowhere, Bentivegna was receiving a BAFTA nomination and becoming partly responsible for a film that has grossed over $150 million, a number that is expected to rise now that Gucci Housewhich is as smooth as a Gucci belt, was released on Blu-ray.


How Gucci Was Made

Gucci House
Universal images

It may have come out of nowhere for Bentivegna, but the project had been percolating for famed director Ridley Scott for some time. When he finally came to Bentivegna, he seized the opportunity while maintaining an evil attitude; after all, someone who’s never had a feature film script directed by a director isn’t exactly expecting Ridley Scott to be the first.

Ridley and Giannina [Facio, Ridley’s spouse] had been trying to make this movie for I think, 16 years, something like that. He and Giannina had bought the rights to Sara Gay Forden’s book, and then they had a sort of revolving door of writers coming in and out. […] There was a Charles Randolph project, which won an Oscar for The big court. There was a project by Bill Nichols, who wrote Gladiator. So it was a really elite group of people. When I met Giannina, I think they were a bit at the end of the road, honestly, because they had been trying for so long.

So it was really a matter of throwing everything against the wall and trying to find a new way in, and for me the main thing was to do something that was very dark and humorous. You know, it kinda poked fun at those people, because I never like to see, for example, really rich people being taken too seriously, and so there would always have been a satirical side to it. And I just had fun with it, you know, because I thought deep down, maybe Ridley would read it. Maybe Ridley would like that. I didn’t think Ridley would make it. So I kind of had nothing to lose, you know, and I think that was really liberating

Gucci House was adapted from Sara Gay Forden’s column about the fashion family, and the murder and tax evasion at the true tabloid heart of their sordid history. Bentivegna decided to play with perspective, moving away from a sort of third-person objective distance and towards a more first-person narrative from the perspective of Patrizia Reggiani (played by award-winning Lady Gaga). awards for his performance). It allowed Gucci House adopting a sort of film noir, femme fatale mindset, creating an entry point into the Gucci family via the rise and fall of possibly murderous Patrizia. It was a clever idea that, combined with Bentivegna’s deep knowledge of cinema, changed the trajectory of the picture.

Related: Ridley Scott Teases The Last Duel & House of Gucci Extended Cuts

I think sometimes when you’re offered a job or when you write a screenplay, you have a eureka moment, and you cling to that eureka moment for life, because you build everything around it. Sometimes those eureka moments are terrible ideas, and you end up with terrible spread. And other times, you have a really good idea and you push it forward as much as you can. So I think in this case, I just like Billy Wilder and I like sunset boulevard and I love femme fatales, and I thought that was an interesting angle to tell the story basically from the perspective of femme fatales, which you don’t really see a lot of, except maybe -to be The last seduction, there aren’t many movies that tell it from the other point of view.

[Patrizia] is just such a great character, and whether you love her or hate her, she’s really unique and she really leaves a mark. And, you know, originally the script had a voiceover that ran through the whole movie, which was very dark, and it was very Billy Wilder, but Ridley never recorded it, so we don’t really know what does this movie look like. But it helped me get more into his head.

Gucci, Gaga and growth

Gucci House 2
Universal images

Lady Gaga was a perfect fit for Patrizia, with her love of fashion and her Italian heritage, as well as her ability to inhabit complicated women like Ally in A star is born. However, with the influx of huge and massively popular actors into the production of Gucci House, Bentivegna had to do some rewrites regarding the tastes and voices of the various stars. The writer had only really worked on productions he’d done in the past, so being part of a massive film that required adaptability and rewrites might have been a difficult process for many. Bentivegna, however, found everything to be organic, allowing his script to evolve naturally alongside production.

I think the biggest rewrites came from Adam Driver, who was really trying to understand Maurizio’s drive and motivation, and a lot of that is internal […] we definitely explored the script with him more than the other actors. Gaga had no questions or notes, at least not for me; of course, she worked a lot on the character. And then Jared [Leto, who plays Paulo] was a few things he brought up here and there.

Related: Ridley Scott Responds to The Real Gucci Family’s House of Gucci Blacklash

I think the process really opened up on set. Once on set, there was a lot of improvisation, a lot of improvisational freedom, and it was sort of a new version of the film. I’m surprised no one brings up Jared Leto’s shit and chocolate ad-lib so much because they know the “Father, Son, House of Gucci” [line that Lady Gaga ad-libbed while genuflecting]because it was also improvised, but nobody seems to talk about it.

Dramas in the Age of Superheroes

Gucci House 1
Universal images

Gucci House is an interesting movie. While it tends to split reviews, it’s also one of the few movies with epic reach that isn’t just a franchise picture or superhero flick. Maybe it’s down to the accessibility and rave reviews of long-running TV shows and miniseries, but big drama epics (about family, crime, or anything other than superpowers) are definitely gone out of fashion in the cinema. Bentivegna notices this and loves that he helped create a dramatic detective epic over two and a half hours, from a woman’s point of view nonetheless.

To tell a story on that scale, and to tell it from a woman’s point of view, I just thought that was an amazing opportunity, and so big, you know? You don’t see those movies anymore. I mean, they’re usually TV shows or limited series. It is very rare to see a two hour 40 minute epic that takes place over 30 years. So I wanted to get on that train before it left, before it was over. I mean, who knows if we’re still going to see those movies.

i think it’s awful [that there aren’t a lot of big adult dramas any more]. I’m very I have a lot of opinion on this. I just think it’s very sad. I mean, you can have Marvel movies, sure, they’re totally awesome. I love Batman, this is my favorite comic. But it’s kind of like fast food. It’s like if people don’t have a number of options of what to eat, they will end up eating this. A., it’s not healthy, and B., they’ll just be used to fast food. They will not discover new things and new flavors. So yes, I think you should have both. I think there should be a way to open up the market to different movies, you know.

Bentivegna seems to be trying to carve out a place for this kind of film, a massive adult drama but one that doesn’t depend on franchise culture or superhero movies to succeed. He decided to reprise his acclaimed screenplay for eel, the ruler himself. Bentivegna went to college to study directing, which was always what he envisioned for himself; he calls being an acclaimed screenwriter “almost an accident.”

eel is something I wrote a while ago, and it was on The Black List, so it had a really nice kind of splash. And then we had Sam Rockwell attached, we had Ben Kingsley attached, we had all these great actors attached, but the time just wasn’t right. So now we’re rerunning the movie […] I love it. I mean, it’s one of the best things I’ve written. If you know Jim Thompson and black, and James M. Cain, it’s got a bit of that 50s pop vibe, and I’m very excited. I hope we get someone really good.

Although he may not get the same stacked cast as his Gucci Houseit looks like Roberto Bentivegna has the momentum to create his own cinematic house. Gucci House is now available on Blu-ray.

gucci house main image
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