The Oscar winner stars as designer Paolo Gucci in the crime drama, which explores the Gucci dynasty and opens in theaters Friday. In an interview with i-D magazine published this week, the actor explained how he did a “deep dive” into the character once shooting began. And, in his words, he went well beyond standard method acting techniques.
“I was snorting lines of arrabbiata sauce by the middle of this movie,” Leto said. “I had olive oil for blood. ... If you took a biopsy of my skin, it would come back as parmesan cheese!”
Calling the film his “love letter to Italy,” Leto offered up a bizarrely anatomical metaphor to explain just how much he “enjoyed and embraced” playing Paolo, which required him to undergo a physical transformation by way of prosthetics and makeup.
“I climbed into that creative cave and came out through the bowels and intestines into the oesophagus of the one and only Paolo Gucci,” he told i-D. “Bringing Paolo to life was like birthing a bowling ball out of my sphincter. I keep saying my butt was shaking like two little chicken bones on that set.”
Leto is not the only “House of Gucci” star to tout their commitment to the project in recent weeks.
Speaking to British Vogue for its December issue, Lady Gaga said she “spoke with an [Italian] accent for nine months” off-camera in preparation for her role as Patrizia Reggiani, who was convicted of plotting the 1995 murder of her ex-husband, fashion impresario Maurizio Gucci, played by Adam Driver in the movie.
“I was either in my hotel room, living and speaking as Reggiani, or I was on set, living and speaking as her,” she recalled. “I remember I went out into Italy one day with a hat on to take a walk. I hadn’t taken a walk in about two months and I panicked ... I thought I was on a movie set.”
“It’s either the best or the worst performance Leto has ever given, possibly both, but either way, it won’t soon be forgotten,” The Wrap’s Alonso Duralde wrote. Collider’s Matt Goldberg felt similarly, noting, “Something Leto seems to fundamentally misunderstand about acting is that it’s not a competitive sport.”
Still, those reviews are tame compared to that of Patrizia Gucci, Maurizio’s second cousin. When The Associated Press asked her about photos of Leto that had been taken on the Italian set of “House of Gucci,” she said, “Horrible, horrible. I still feel offended.”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.