Director John Turturro arguably is the only filmmaker who’d ever think of casting actor John Turturro as an attentive escort who's handsomely paid for his sexual favors by exceptionally attractive -- and extremely grateful -- women.
"Fading Gigolo" is the newest addition to his list of directorial credits, an inventory that also includes "Mac" (1992), his affectionate portrait of a workaholic building contractor not unlike Turturro's own dad, and "Passione," which was screened with Turturro in attendance at the 2010 Houston Cinema Arts Festival.
Turturro called a few days ago to discuss his work on both sides of the camera for "Fading Gigolo." The 57-year-old multihyphenate sounded justly proud of the movie's early success during bookings in New York and Los Angeles -- and seemed optimistic that audiences elsewhere also would embrace the film, offbeat casting and all.
Highlights from Joe Leydon's interview with Turturro for Culture Map below. Read the rest of the story here.
Joe Leydon: As a director, you've never been afraid to simply present something as a given, without undue explanation. Like in your first film, Mac, there’s that moment of magical realism where the lead character's father simply sits up at his wake, and complains to his son about the shoddiness of his coffin. In "Fading Gigolo," you have Woody Allen suggest that you should become a gigolo, you think about it just a bit -- and then you’re in business.
John Turturro: Well, I did have more things about the character originally -- even in the stuff we shot. Like, at one point we find out that his dad left his mom, just walked out and never came back, and now he doesn't trust love. But by the time we got to that, in a later scene with Vanessa Paradis, I figured, "Wow. He's already implied that." We already know Fioravante obviously was close with his mother, and he never talks about his father. And I mean, who knows? Maybe he lost his mom when he was very young. We have a couple of hints about that. But like I say, I actually took out a couple of things [in the script] during the shooting, because when the time came to film them, I figured we were already past that.
Joe Leydon: They always say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But there's also another element to consider in movies: You actually have to make an audience believe a character is who he or she is supposed to be. You have to convince the audience.
JT: Well, you know, there are a lot people in movies who are very sexy -- but are not really beautiful. Jeanne Moreau is a great, classic example. And to be honest again: In life, I've had many beautiful girlfriends. I have a beautiful wife. Now, I never felt like a cocky guy. But I've always felt confident. I have lots of friends who are confident in all kinds of ways. We’re all different. In this case, I knew I had to be in good physical shape. And I had my hair cut really nicely.
Joe Leydon: OK, let's address the elephant in the room. Woody Allen recently has been in the papers a lot, for all the wrong reasons. Were you ever afraid audiences would be distracted by that while watching "Fading Gigolo"?
JT: Yeah. Well, audiences aren't, I find. But some of the reviewers are. It's like they’re covering stuff that's on a different page in the newspaper. There's nothing I can do about it. I know she wrote her opinion, he wrote his. Woody is my friend. I've worked with him in the theater and this and that. But I don't know anything about it. I have nothing to say about it. Sure, people are going to write about it. But I watch audiences -- and they just go with the movie.