‘About My Father’ Director on Why Comedy Is Best Seen With An Audience
May 25, 2023
We already know that About My Father is a personal film for Sebastian Maniscalco, and it serves as a love letter to his father Salvo Maniscalco, who in the film is played by Robert de Niro, but what I also found extremely fascinating while doing my research for the film was just how personal the film was to its director, Laura Terruso, who looks at the film as a love-letter to her own Silician mother. Knowing this, it’s now incredibly easy to see why Maniscalco entrusted Terruso with directing his first film as a leading man.
Comedies don’t come around on the big screen very often anymore, especially in the post-COVID era, but this summer looks to have a variety of promising titles alongside About My Father including No Hard Feelings, Strays, The Machine, and Joy Ride. Teruso previously directed the Netflix comedy Work It as well as the indie films Good Girls Get High and Fits and Starts, but About My Father will mark her first comedy to receive a wide release in theaters. About My Father opens in theaters on Memorial Day weekend and is a surefire crowd pleaser much in the vein of comedy hits like My Big Fat Greek Wedding and Meet the Parents, and also stars comedy queens like Kim Cattrall and Leslie Bibb.
COLLIDER VIDEO OF THE DAYSCROLL TO CONTINUE WITH CONTENT
I was fortunate enough to sit down and talk with Terruso, and we talked about why comedy movies are always best seen on the big screen if there were ever alternate cuts of the film, what kind of movie she’d want to do next, and which actress she’d want to see play her mother in a film.
COLLIDER: First of all, I love the movie and I love comedies, and it’s not so often that we see them on the big screen anymore. I know you’ve done some TV and streaming stuff, and there’s been a lot of talk about directing something for streaming versus doing a comedy for the theater, so what was that like?
LAURA TERRUSO: It’s such a dream come true to be able to make a comedy that will screen in theaters because, you know, comedy is best viewed with an audience. It’s infectious when people start laughing in a theater, it’s contagious, and it catches on. We had a test screening for the film, and it was just so cool to see all those moments that we built work and people laugh, and people even cry and get teary-eyed towards the end. There’s nothing better.
Speaking of test screenings, I know a lot of like comedies go through different cuts and aim for different ratings. Was there ever a different cut of this one? This is a good movie I can watch with my parents, and I was on the phone with them, like, “I can’t wait to show you this!”
TERRUSO: Oh, that makes me so happy to hear. What is ending up in theaters is pretty much the director’s cut. We never did reshoots. I mean, this is the movie that was scripted, and it’s what ended up on screen. There was a lot of fun that we had on the day and improv that made it into the film, but this cut, it’s really like my first cut of the film.
Image via Lionsgate
That’s awesome! It’s so amusing that Sebastian gets De Niro as his dad, and it’s always a cool concept, talking with my coworkers or friends, like, “Oh, what celebrity would I want to play my parent?” And I know you said this is like a love letter to your relationship with your mother, so I was curious, who would you cast as your mother?
TERRUSO: Oh my God, that’s such a good question! Patti LuPone? She’s strong, I think she could do Sicilian [laughs].
I just saw Beau Is Afraid, so I’m almost terrified of her.
TERRUSO: [Laughs] That’s hilarious! I can’t wait to see that. I need to check that out.
So I know you’re talking about wanting to do comedies with different genre because I know you’re more interested in working in the comedy realm. Do you have any idea of what you want to do next, or what you’re aiming to do?
TERRUSO: I mean, I will always make heartfelt comedies, that’s kind of what I love, character-driven stories. And I love experimenting with genre, so my last film before this was a dance movie, this is sort of a family movie. I would love to do an action-comedy, that seems like it’d be a really fun next challenge. So that’s what I’m thinking.
Image via Lionsgate
How did you come in contact with Sebastian? Were you a fan beforehand or did he come to you?
TERRUSO: So I was finishing up work, and we were in post on that when my agent sent me the screenplay for the script. It was an open directing assignment, and I just immediately was like, “I have to direct this movie,” and that had never happened in the four years that I’ve been getting scripts sent to me, that I leapt out of my chair and said, “This is for me!” Usually, I read a script, and I’m like, “Oh, what’s wrong with it? How am I gonna–?” This one was just so– It was as though it was, like, perfect for me because my mother is Sicilian and it’s about Sebastian’s relationship with his Sicilian father. I just immediately felt such a personal connection to the materials and the character and the world, and felt like I had to direct it.
I had known of Sebastian beforehand, I’m Italian American, I mean, my family is obsessed with him. But in reading it, I fell more in love with him because it’s such a kind comedy, and those are so rare these days. It’s not raunchy. It’s kind of a throwback to those films of the ‘90s that I grew up with that made me want to do this, and working with him made me love him even more.
About My Father opens exclusively in movie theaters on May 26. Below you can check out my interview with Kim Cattrall and Leslie Bibb below.
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