Why Jared Leto's Performance In House Of Gucci Is Necessary To The Film

Jared Leto, transformed with prosthetics, in House of Gucc
(Image credit: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer)

House of Gucci is here, and it’s quickly become one of the most polarizing movies of 2021. Audiences have widespread opinions about Ridley Scott’s movie, and everyone from Tom Ford to the Gucci family themselves have different takes on various aspects of the movie. I left the movie with a take I didn’t think was that strong at the time, but after diving head-first into the discourse, it’s time to make declare that Jared Leto makes this movie with his portrayal as Paolo Gucci. 

Jared Leto’s performance has received the most scrutiny from those who knew Paolo Gucci. Tom Ford indicated that, while eccentric, the actual Paolo wasn’t quite as off-the-wall, and the designer’s daughter Patrizia Gucci said the portrayal was embarrassing. It seems there are grounds to say the portrayal is not entirely accurate to real life, but I’ll argue that Jared Leto’s performance is necessary to House of Gucci or it doesn’t succeed on any other level. 

Paolo Gucci (Jared Leto) wears a lilac suit and has tissue in his nose as he fans himself in House of Gucci

(Image credit: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Bron Creative)

Jared Leto’s Paolo Gucci Provides Levity To A Movie Devoid Of It Anywhere Else

There are times when watching Jared Leto’s Paolo Gucci in House of Gucci that the thought crossed my mind on whether or not it’s too much. The movie is steeped in such drama, and audiences will be sucked out of it in an instant anytime Paolo struts out on screen. Almost every line of dialogue he utters is comedic, even in his saddest moments. It almost feels disrespectful to the rest of the movie until you realize what House of Gucci is without it. 

House of Gucci is about an obscenely rich family, and how greed, betrayal and murder ultimately led to their ousting from the company that bears their name. It’s incredibly dark, to the point it’s not all that fun to witness. We see Patrizia Reggiani and Maurizio Gucci go from lovers who didn’t give a damn about fortune to it being the only thing that defines them. It’s captivating to watch, but by the end, there’s not a damn thing likable about these two, and it’s not like the rest of the Gucci family is portrayed any better. 

I’d argue that if we didn’t have Jared Leto’s performance as Paolo Gucci in House of Gucci, the movie would be panned for being overly heavy-handed and frankly not fun to watch. Watching two lovers ultimately turn into miserable people doing equally miserable things to friends and family shouldn’t be a fun ride, but Leto sucked me out of that just long enough with each appearance that it recharged my battery and prepared me for more sadness and upsetting actions.

Adam Driver and Jared Leto in House of Gucci

(Image credit: MGM Studios)

Jared Leto’s Flamboyance As Paolo Gucci Compensates For Other Performances 

Paolo Gucci is extra, Jared Leto’s performance is extra and, yes, his insistence on method acting would be described by some as extra. Say what you will about Leto’s methods, but his performance is great because it compensates for the many subdued performances we see in House of Gucci. It’s not fair to call these performances dull, as they’re only mimicking the film’s portrayal of these real-life figures, but it’s also hard to call them incredible or entertaining at times. 

Case in point, let's look at Adam Driver’s turn as Maurizio Gucci. I wouldn’t call Driver’s performance as Maurizio his best by any stretch, but it’s also not at all bad. Maurizio Gucci is a subdued person, and there's only maybe one or two times we see him be anything other than that in House of Gucci. Those who’ve seen Girls or many of Driver’s other works know he can deliver performances just as unhinged as Jared Leto, but that’s not what his job is in this movie. 

Jared Leto’s Paolo Gucci may be extra, but he’s the electricity that reignites the audience after listening to a tense scene where the elite discusses rich people problems in a calm tone. We need Paolo’s eccentric nature to raise the energy and keep the audience invested, lest things stay too subdued and dark. Plus, as mentioned, it helps keep the more nuanced performances of House of Gucci from becoming flat or boring, which I think would definitely be a concern if he played Paolo as straight as everyone else in the movie.

Jared Leto in House of Gucci

(Image credit: MGM)

Jared Leto’s Performance Helps Showcase How Bonkers This Story Is

The most important thing about Jared Leto’s performance as Paolo Gucci is that it showcases just how bonkers this story is through and through. It wasn’t immediately evident to me watching House of Gucci at first, but once Paolo is carrying on, it starts to come together. The way this family tore itself apart so easily is astounding, and, given all the things that happen, it’s hard to argue that Paolo is even the whackiest part of the true story. 

Like, can we just take a moment to acknowledge the fact that Patrizia Reggiani set up the murder of her ex-husband with a well-known psychic?  Of all the things about this movie I thought were exaggerated when I first watched it, that was the one. An eccentric rich person that is a little off is, frankly, the most believable part of the story, though that could be why those close to Paolo Gucci take offense to the portrayal. 

With that in mind, however, I think the fact that it’s publicly out there Jared Leto’s performance isn’t 100% on par with the actual Paolo Gucci allows an audience to see this work for what it is: a movie. Based on a true story means the reality can be bent a bit to make the work itself more entertaining, and that audiences should look into the real story before taking House of Gucci as absolute gospel. In that regard, Leto does us a favor with his Paolo Gucci, even if that wasn’t his intention. 

Love it or hate it, I don’t think anyone can deny Jared Leto didn’t give exactly what was required of him in House of Gucci. It’s certainly an outlier in the various performances given in the movie, but as I covered extensively above, it’s more of a compliment to the film than anything. In short, I’m a huge fan of it, and that’s a hill I’m willing to die on amongst the litany of takes about Ridley Scott’s movie

House of Gucci is currently available to watch in theaters. Come to see what all the buzz is about and stay for some incredibly wild scenes of Jared Leto as Paolo Gucci. Also, because I haven’t said it this entire article, Lady Gaga does a pretty damn good job

Mick Joest
Content Producer

Mick Joest is a Content Producer for CinemaBlend with his hand in an eclectic mix of television goodness. Star Trek is his main jam, but he also regularly reports on happenings in the world of Star Trek, WWE, Doctor Who, 90 Day Fiancé, Quantum Leap, and Big Brother. He graduated from the University of Southern Indiana with a degree in Journalism and a minor in Radio and Television. He's great at hosting panels and appearing on podcasts if given the chance as well.