Director Laura Terruso on Family & Robert De Niro

Director Laura Terruso on Family & Robert De Niro

ComingSoon Editor-in-Chief Tyler Treese spoke with About My Father director Laura Terruso concerning the Sebastian Maniscalco-led comedy film. The movie is now out there digitally and can be launched on Blu-ray, DVD, and On Demand on August 1, 2023.

“The movie facilities round Sebastian (Maniscalco) who is inspired by his fiancée (Leslie Bibb) to convey his immigrant, hairdresser father, Salvo (De Niro), to a weekend get-together together with her super-rich and exceedingly eccentric household,” reads the synopsis. “The weekend develops into what can solely be described as a tradition conflict, leaving Sebastian and Salvo to find that the beauty of household is every thing about household.”

Tyler Treese: What parts of the script actually grabbed you the primary time you noticed it? What features actually grabbed you and made you need to be part of this?

Laura Terruso: Nicely, once I first learn the script, I used to be instantly drawn to the character of Salvo. I simply felt like he was so well-written and it simply felt so true, as a result of not solely am I Italian, I’m Sicilian American. My mother immigrated from Sicily when she was like 12 years outdated — it was across the identical precise time that Sebastian’s father Salvo immigrated. I’ve two uncles who’re additionally Sicilian. So I simply felt so linked to the character and the world. I felt like I had lived the story in some ways, the place I’ve dated individuals who had been from a extra waspy background, and I’ve my Italian American household. It simply felt so private whereas additionally being this actually enjoyable Hollywood comedy. I referred to as my agent and I used to be like, “I’ve to direct this.” ? I felt like I used to be the right individual for it.

We’ve seen a variety of nice artwork not too long ago about being the kid of that first technology of immigrants that come over. On this film we see that there’s a little bit of a divide between father and son, however finally, he realizes every thing Salvo has carried out for him has been along with his finest curiosity, and we get a very nice story there. Van you converse to that common generational sort of divide there?

Yeah, I imply, one of many issues that actually struck me concerning the script and concerning the character of Salvo was how a lot he’s formed by loss. The lack of his nation and his tradition, the lack of his spouse, and now he seems like he’s shedding his son, and that’s the final piece of his household that he’s obtained. In order that feeling of, “Oh my God, I’m shedding every thing” is what’s driving him all through the movie. Comedy and ache … they’re linked, you understand? There was a lot concerning the character and about that feeling of like, “Oh my God, I’m shedding every thing and now I’m going to lose my son.” So after all, subconsciously, he’s going to behave out and attempt to sabotage him in some ways, and it simply felt so wealthy to me.

Robert De Niro is ideal for the position that needed to be a dream to see that he was connected to it, as a result of I can’t consider anyone higher on this position as he actually will get to point out his full vary right here. He’s nice at being a really unfavorable outdated man, however he’s additionally nice at exhibiting such real emotion all through. Are you able to converse to attending to work with De Niro as an actor and what he dropped at this efficiency?

So once I signed on the movie, De Niro wasn’t connected but. We despatched the script to him. He was the primary actor that we went out to, and two days later I used to be on a Zoom with him, and he was so sort and so heat and simply made me really feel so comfy. I used to be capable of speak him via my imaginative and prescient for the movie and the way I noticed it and the way I plan to direct it and speak with him about how I work as a director. He was like, “Come out to New York, let’s do a desk learn,” which is such an unimaginable reward as a result of with a screenplay, you typically don’t even get to listen to it till it’s all solid up and it helps a lot to listen to a script learn out loud by nice actors.

So Sebastian and I went to New York and we did this desk learn with Bob and some different unimaginable actors. This was all through the pandemic, so we had been like six ft aside on this loft — it was actually weird. However I used to be capable of see Sebastian and Bob side-by-side, and it was simply so clear that this was going to work as a result of they actually felt like father and son, though Sebastian’s Chicago and Bob’s New York, there was some Italian American … like they spoke the identical language, you understand? Their Italian-ness kind of outdated areas. I knew it might work. So afterwards, I spoke with Bob and I mentioned, “That is the a part of the script I need to work on and let’s get this social gathering began.”

And, and he was like, “Yeah, let’s do that. He was such a companion all through the entire course of. He was actually a collaborator from starting to finish, in pre-production main as much as the shoot. He would name me each week, “How’s it going? How’s it occurring places? The place are we with solid?” He needed to learn with each single solid member, which is so uncommon that you simply get the solid not solely to audition, however to learn with the actor that they’re going to be enjoying reverse. So we had been actually capable of check this solid’s chemistry with each other due to Bob. I’m so grateful to him for that as a result of their chemistry is phenomenal and I felt like I gained a lot via working with him and realized a lot within the strategy of working with him.

One among my favourite scenes early on is the flashback sequence once we see Salvo with the ponytail. How was it if you noticed Robert De Niro come out with that entire getup? That needed to be unimaginable.

That was superb. So Sebastian’s dad appeared precisely like that when Sebastian was rising up. For Bob, authenticity is every thing. It’s a very powerful factor there may be if you’re making any murals. It’s no surprise that he typically performs characters which have existed as a result of there’s one thing for him to tug from. So I despatched up a bunch of images of younger Salvo and I used to be like, “Right here’s what we’re considering.” And he’s like, “Sure, ponytail, carried out.” We simply did it.

And at one level there was a dialog about de-aging, and I used to be like, “No,” as a result of if you’re a child, your 40 12 months outdated dad appears 80 to you anyway. It doesn’t make a distinction. It simply labored. It’s so humorous, he simply was fully all-in and when it got here to the hairdressing stuff, he actually needed to make it possible for he was doing that correctly. So we had Sebastian’s dad Salvo truly come to set and train him how you’d spotlight a girl’s hair, how you’d do it. It was like actually, actually cool.

Talking of Sebastian, that is such a private story for him, and we get to see him mix elements of his stand-up act into the film as effectively. How was working with him to mix these two mediums between stand-up and a extra scripted leisure like this?

I imply, Sebastian might be one of many funniest comedians on the planet proper now. I really like that that is the film he selected to make as a result of it’s a love letter to his father. In a method, it’s like much less about … I imply, it’s a love story, proper? In the end, I described this movie as a romantic comedy between a father and a son. Sebastian has such an enormous coronary heart and that is simply such a love letter. Working with him was simply seamless. Plenty of his stand-up, we had been capable of sort of plug and play proper into the film after which we’d speak to him a few scene and he’d have these nice concepts the place he’d be like, “Oh, once I was on the helicopter and I freaked out, my dad gave me a lemon.”

Issues like that, the place we’re like, “Oh, we’re placing it in, we’re placing it in.” So it was actually seamless and I really feel like comedians can do something. It’s arduous to get a dramatic actor typically to be humorous, however I really feel prefer it’s loads simpler to get a comic to carry out dramatically. The moments that I believe I used to be actually most stunned by on set had been the place he actually was like capable of lean into a few of these extra dramatic scenes and get to a extremely true place. And it was simply cool, working with him on that and seeing that aspect of his, as a result of I don’t even suppose he knew it was there, however seeing that aspect of him emerge, that this man’s obtained appearing chops as effectively.

These are a number of the finest moments. One factor I actually beloved was the opening 10 minutes. Are you able to converse to utilizing that narration? There was some actually nice enhancing to speak the histories of each households. Are you able to discuss that opening and including your personal model to that starting?

Yeah, that was within the script from the very starting, and I believe it’s so vital. There’s a lot setup that has to happen with a movie like this, as a result of finally you actually need to get to the assembly, proper? Such as you need to get to the good things, however it’s important to perceive the place Sebastian’s coming from and the place Ellie’s household’s coming from. It was such a extremely enjoyable piece of writing on the prime of the movie. Then when it got here time to place it collectively, I knew we’d be pulling from a number of archival stuff and we shot a few issues right here and there. Like that household portrait of the Collins household the place we sort of pull out from one portrait and so they’re posing for an additional portrait. [Laugh].

I needed to, as a filmmaker, take into consideration, “Okay, what is that this going to appear like? How are we placing this collectively?” It was truly sort of a nightmare as a result of a variety of the archival … there have been photographs and archival footage that we beloved that we couldn’t use due to rights and stuff and authorized causes. So we needed to hold arising with … “Okay, right here’s another that can work. Alright, we’ll do that after which we’ll put him in a on line casino.” It felt like a variety of train in that part [Laughs]. However I’m glad it resonated for you and it’s actually enjoyable and humorous and it units up the entire film. I beloved capturing these flashbacks. De Niro was fully sport and it was superior.

I beloved David Rasche on this — he was nice in Succession. He will get to essentially showcase his comedic expertise right here, and he and Kim’s chemistry’s is so nice. What actually stood out about attending to see him because the patriarch of the wealthier household?

I believe for me too, he was the true shock, as a result of a lot of his greatness on this movie … a variety of it’s improvised. Plenty of these traces that he says which might be simply gold [are] improvised. He’s a Second Metropolis man. He’s been doing comedy for a extremely very long time and this was such a chance to flex his muscle tissue and to play. Everyone was there as a result of they needed to play with Bob. They needed to play with De Niro and get an opportunity to work with him.

I felt like David simply nailed it. He simply killed the project. It’s humorous, in a method that is like his Succession character’s non-public life. [Laugh]. Though Karl appears much more … sort of evil than than Invoice Collins [Laughs]. Invoice Collins looks as if a reasonably candy, good man.


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