‘House of Gucci’ makeup team on the ‘miracle’ of creating Jared Leto’s unrecognizable transformation [EXCLUSIVE VIDEO INTERVIEW]

Even for a performer known for his physical transformations, Jared Leto reached another level with “House of Gucci.” To play the foolish and ultimately tragic Paolo Gucci in Ridley Scott’s epic drama, Leto underwent hours of makeup and prosthetic work – and the result rendered him so unrecognizable that even costars like Al Pacino and Jeremy Irons weren’t aware they were initially sharing a set with the Oscar-winning actor.

“You have no idea how mind-blowing it is when this guy came in, dressed as Paolo, stood next to me — I was new in Italy — and I thought, ‘Who is this?,’ because he kept calling me ‘Papa!’” Pacino said last year. “Somebody, a sensitive person in the area, said, ‘Al, it’s Jared.’ I swear to you, I bowed to the floor. I remember, I said, ‘You are an inspiration. I can go on now.’”

“On set, most of the crew didn’t realize it was a prosthetic,” “House of Gucci” makeup department head Jana Carboni tells Gold Derby in a new interview. “It was stunning.”

Initially, Carboni says, the “House of Gucci” team wasn’t sure how they would approach Paolo. But once Leto became involved, “he wanted something really special.” That’s when the actor, with just a few weeks to go before filming, enlisted prosthetics makeup designer Göran Lundström, an Oscar nominee previously for “Border,” to help him bring Paolo to life. Leto and Lundström met over Zoom and then it was off to the races. Leto’s prosthetics team didn’t even have the opportunity to meet him in person before starting to work on the makeup. But those challenges were overcome thanks to the collaboration between the prosthetics team and Leto’s own work.

“His acting is really, to me is amazing how he makes that makeup come alive,” Lundström says. “Because I’ve never really seen that – the way he moves and acts and he’s very, he was very big in his movements, which really helps to make up because you don’t really think about the makeup because it moves so well.”

“What Goran managed to deliver with the time he had and the situation he had was – apart from the fact it’s beautiful and it’s fantastic – was actually a miracle,” adds Carboni. “I mean, I said to Goran as well, I was so touched about his work ethic and his commitment to the project.”

“House of Gucci” is one of 10 films to make the Academy Awards shortlist in the hair and makeup category, and the team – including Giuliano Mariano (the hair department head), AnnaCarin Lock (who handled Leto’s wig), Sarah Tanno (the makeup artist to star Lady Gaga), and Frederic Aspiras (the hairstylist to Lady Gaga) – rates highly in the Gold Derby Oscar odds. For Carboni, who has done six films with Scott – including his latest project, the forthcoming “Kitbag” – the opportunity to execute such lauded craftsmanship starts with the director and his work ethic.

“I always say that Ridley is the youngest director I’ve ever worked with,” Carboni says of the 84-year-old filmmaker. “And it’s so true. His enthusiasm is contagious. … You want him to be 100 percent happy with what you’ve done and what you deliver to him. And it’s not easy. But because such an incredibly talented director, it really pushes you to do every time better, if you know what I mean. So it’s a special one.”

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