About My Father follows Sebastian and his girlfriend Ellie, whose family invites them to spend the weekend at their home. Since Sebastian’s father, Salvo, doesn’t want to spend the holiday weekend alone, Sebastian brings him along despite his hesitation. However, he is quickly embarrassed by Salvo’s judgmental attitude towards Ellie’s wealthy family. Although it starts out bumpy with cultural clashes and hilarious misunderstandings, the two families grow into one stronger unit over the course of the weekend.
About My Father is directed by Laura Terruso and co-written by Austen Earl and star Sebastian Maniscalco. The latter was inspired by his real relationship with his father, Salvo. About My Father includes a star-studded cast led by Maniscalco, Robert De Niro, Lelie Bibb, Anders Holm, David Rasche, Kim Cattrall, and Brett Dier.
Screen Rant spoke with director Laura Terruso about her new movie, About My Father. She discussed working with the legendary De Niro and how collaborative he is as an actor. Terruso also explained why she wanted to direct About My Father from the moment she read the script, describing her pursuit as “dogged.”
Laura Terruso on About My Father
Screen Rant: Laura, amazing job on this film! I immediately called my dad after this movie and talked to him for half an hour. What a fantastic performance with Sebastian and Robert. This film was deeply personal for you and Sebastian, but the themes are universal. What made you want to jump on this project?
Laura Terruso: Exactly those reasons. My agent sent me the script for this as I was finishing up work [on] my last film for Netflix and upon reading, I’ve never done this before, I put down the script, and I was like, “I have to direct this movie.” So I pursued it doggedly. It was just so deeply personal because it’s about Sebastian’s relationship with his father, who’s a Sicilian immigrant. My mother’s a Sicilian immigrant. I just felt so deeply connected to the characters, the world, the tone. It was perfect.
This film is really a love letter to Sebastian’s dad, and also your mother. Can you talk to me about working with Sebastian on this project that he’s so deeply involved with and bringing this story to life?
Laura Terruso: We just immediately connected. I think he interviewed about five directors, and when he hired me, he said, “You were so well-prepared with the pitch.” I really talked him through certain scenes, like the tennis scene, I had this whole vision for it. And he said, “You feel like a sister.” And that meant so much to me. That really felt like our relationship through the whole project where there was just a shorthand between us and such a connection in terms of our cultural heritage. I like to say that we’re very different people, we’re cut from the same cloth, but we’re very different garments. But it worked out really well.
As expected, Robert De Niro’s fantastic in this film. Can you talk to me about what he brought to the role that wasn’t on the page and just working with him? What surprised you about working with him?
Laura Terruso: He is an incredible collaborator, an incredible communicator, just an ally to the filmmaker. We had such a wonderful working relationship. We talked weekly leading up to prep. There was just such great communication, and he had such trust in me. He was like, “What do you want me to do?” He would have done anything and I felt so honored to be able to work with him. He deserves all the accolades. He is a true legend.
You do a great job balancing the comedy and the heartfelt family moments. You really bring this love-first mentality to these characters in this family. Can you talk to me about what your directing style added to this film?
Laura Terruso: I like to really maintain a kind of open collaborative environment on set. I over prepare, so that on the day I can throw everything out and just go from my gut, go from instinct. Work from that place. I started out as a writer, I wrote this film called Hello, My Name is Doris, and so I always approach comedy from a place of we’re writing it as we’re going.
The script was phenomenal, and we just made it even better. There was lots of improv, throwing out alts, and lots of play that took place. Some of the best moments in the film are moments that weren’t scripted, or that we found on the day. When you’re working with a cast at this caliber, it’s just such a pleasure to play with them.
About My Father Details
Sebastian and his girlfriend Ellie are invited to her family home for a holiday weekend in the summer, but much to his chagrin he has to bring his Italian immigrant father Salvo. Sebastian and Salvo contend with culture clashes between themselves and Ellie’s rich family. Over the course of the weekend the two very different families become one.
Check out our other About My Father interviews here: