While he’s carefully crafted a hilarious onstage persona, storytelling lies at the heart of comedian Sebastian Maniscalco’s ever-evolving work.
Although he remained focused on the art of live performance, Maniscalco has also turned his attention to acting, appearing in a small but well-received role in the 2018 Academy Award-winning comedy-drama green book.
Working in irishthe Martin Scorsese-directed gangster epic, followed a year later, marking the moment he first met legendary Oscar-winning actor Robert De Niro (who once portrayed neo-comedian Robert Pupkin in 1982). King of Comedy).
The year 2022 brought a bigger role in Irish It co-starred Ray Romano’s directorial debut Somewhere in Queens. But all along, Maniscalco has been hard at work at his starring role, enlisting De Niro to portray his father, Salvatore Maniscalco, in the new comedy Lionsgate. About my fathernow in theatres.
Maniscalco co-wrote the screenplay, in which he plays himself, with Austin Earle, a script that precedes the 2018 movie trailer, a labor of love for the comedy that finally found an audience in theaters post-pandemic.
Maniscalco is the son of Italian immigrants, whose parents left Sicily to raise the comedian in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, where he was born.
Directed by Laura Terruso, the film centers on a classroom conflict as Maniscalco and his father Salvo head off for a country club vacation with Sebastian’s fiancé Ellie (Leslie Bibb), her parents Tigger and Belle (Kim Cattrall and David Rush), and her siblings Lucky and Doug (Anders Holm, Brett Dyer) .
Themes such as the importance of both acceptance and family emerge at a time when middle-class and white-collar cultures clash.
“I absolutely loved it. I read it and immediately jumped out of my seat and said, ‘I have to direct this!’” Teruso said of the first reading of Maniscalco’s script. It concerns Sebastian’s relationship with his father, a Sicilian immigrant. My mother is a Sicilian immigrant. And immediately I felt this closeness to the characters and the world and the story. And I knew I could be the perfect director for her,” she said.
Earlier this month during a red carpet homecoming event at AMC River East in Chicago, Maniscalco was joined by his wife and parents for a special screening of the film based on the events in his life, a somewhat disturbing experience for a comedian usually capable of spinning in time. Actual audience reaction.
“With stand-up comedy, you can really change the pace. You’re making a joke and if it doesn’t land, it’s like, ‘Okay. Let’s try something else,'” the comedian explained. “With this, it looks like you’re sitting there like, ‘Oh my God. he’s there. You can’t change anything now! That was the biggest hurdle for me,” Maniscalco admitted. “With standing up, it’s really immediate. But, with a movie, you don’t know if it’s going to play funny or not until people actually watch it.”
While the movie is relationship-driven, the most important is that of Sebastian and his father Salvo, a hairdresser.
For De Niro, authenticity is mythically crucial. With the difficulty level rising amid the pandemic, De Niro has had to approach his character in somewhat unconventional ways.
“It was crazy. We grew up watching De Niro in all of these movies. He plays my dad,” Maniscalco said during a separate conversation at the end of 2021. He wanted to get all the nuances of my dad. So he zooms in with him, calling out to him. My dad went to Oklahoma to spend the weekend with him in this house he rented there while he was shooting a movie. Then he came to the group. Until we witness this…” the comedian mused, faltering. “I was kind of sitting there watching my dad teach De Niro how to do it [hair] Highlights, “Wow…”
“I loved Salvo,” De Niro said in Chicago. “When you’re as close as Sebastian and his dad are, he’s in one way. He reacts to any little thing his dad does. I meet him in another way – in a social way. I loved him so much,” he explained. “He was very helpful with me in what I was doing filming him. He’s a nice guy. We can talk about things. We can talk about the text. And he was very helpful. That’s it “.
In the new film, De Niro’s interactions as the straight man, wisecracking during humorous interactions with both Ellie’s parents and siblings, provide recurring comic relief.
“It’s not what you think it’s going to be,” said Holm (Workaholic), which depicts Ellie wearing a polo shirt, piloting a helicopter, Lucky’s younger brother, and from working with De Niro. “You think it’s going to be scary — and it is. But then you meet him and he’s so simple and inviting and collaborative that you forget you’re this iconic. And you can just do your job, try to be funny and try to make him laugh.”
The approach to the character was, How do I make him whimsical yet grounded—and childish and loving at the same time? Dyer said (How do I do all that?Jane the Virgin) from his take on Ellie’s quirky brother Doug. “Bob is really grounded too. Seeing how touched he is, it’s amazing. I learned a lot from Bob,” he said of working alongside De Niro. “I love my character because he’s so cool — but also kind of loving and adorable. And so weird!” Dyer said with a knowing laugh. “I like the weird—because I’m weird. The weird is good.”
In one of the film’s sweetest moments – albeit a short one – De Niro and Cattrall steal the scene while puffing together on a cigar, Salvo doing some styling for Tigger.
“It was really fun shooting,” Cattrall admitted of the scene. “Because I didn’t really know what was going to happen. Then Bob blew out a smoke ring. And I thought, ‘Well, I can do that…’ So I fended off one. So it kind of had a life of its own!”
Alongside Tigger is Rasche, who is most recently known for his recurring role on HBO Successionis particularly funny in his role as Eli’s father, and the interaction between him and Cattrall shines throughout the movie.
“There are two people in my life – rich people – and I always remember them! That’s what I did,” said Rush with a laugh, indicating his readiness for the role of Bill. “She’s always there,” he continued, praising Cattrall. “She’s really fun to work with. And she’s willing to do anything. Everyone was. It was a total fun fiesta.”
key to success About my father is the relatable nature of the story itself, and the family hustle and bustle that anyone can relate to.
“It’s a tightly written script that’s funny and familiar — but it’s not formulaic,” Holm said. “So you get to see all of this stuff in the movie and it feels real — but it doesn’t feel like tropes or caricatures. I jumped at the chance to be a part of it.”
In an age of motion pictures, where storytelling and narrative often take a backseat to the visuals of any summer blockbuster, Maniscalco and Terruso doubled down on the idea, working together to create a story-driven, family-friendly movie.
“I wanted to make a movie that was a bit like the movies that made me want to be a director,” said Terruso. “Those ’90s movies: directors like Mike Nichols and Penny Marshall — those great, character-driven stories. I’m so grateful we were able to get this movie out in theaters and I hope people come out to see something the whole family can watch together,” she said.
“I love stories. I love movies that have a story,” added Maniscalco. “We all love big slick movies, John Weeks from the world or Guardians of the Galaxy. But when you have a movie like this that has some heart? It’s about the family! “Everyone has a family here and they can relate to this in some way, shape or form,” the comedian said. “So, I like that this movie is in theaters. People can go see it with their family — and laugh as a unit. Everything is so fragmented nowadays. The son is going to see an action movie. The daughter is going to see a rom-com. Nobody has a movie they can watch together.” Hopefully this will be one of those movies.”