Last week, I had a fantastic opportunity to cover the NY premiere of Bleecker Street’s first film release, Danny Collins. I’ve seen the film twice and thought the movie was quite entertaining even if it’s not the most original flick, but what makes it stand out is the incredibly acted ending. I haven’t been that happy with an ending to a movie in a long time and it’s the main reason why I’ve been recommending the film to people.
While covering the red carpet, I had the chance to speak with an adorable and smart young actress named Giselle Eisenberg, writer/director Dan Fogelman, and actor Bobby Cannavale.
First up is Giselle Eisenberg who plays Bobby’s daughter in the film.
Giselle Eisenberg: Well, it’s usually the same every time I make a movie or a TV show. I like meeting everybody, ‘cause they’re all really nice and they find ways to connect with me and play around.
MB: Was there anything really fun that happened on set?
GE: Well Al would always sing “Hey, Baby Doll” to get everybody going and have some fun, ‘cause some people were just doing all this work. So, to get them to have some fun, he would sing that and the whole crew would join in, the actors, the actresses, the people in charge of the lights, the director would even join in.
MB: Oh, wow. What was it like working with Dan Fogelman? It was his first film.
GE: He was really, really nice and when I first met him he took me out to sushi and then he went and took me to this playground that was in the mall in California and we just played around on the monkey bars. He made a joke, he pretended he could swing on the money bars with only one finger on each hand but he was really tall so he was actually walking across and just moving. He was tall enough to reach it while his feet were on the ground.
MB: Was it really fun being able to yell a lot throughout the movie? I saw it and you were great, you got to run around a lot.
GE: Yeah, that was fun, I mean I’ve calmed down over the years but when I was at that age making this movie I was hyperactive, that was not acting at all. Well, it was a little but I’m, in general, hyper.
Up next is the director and screenwriter Dan Fogelman.
Dan Fogelman: Thank you, appreciate it. Oh, thank you so much.
MB: First off the ending, I just want to say it made me really happy. You executed it perfectly, Bobby and Al knocked it out of the park.
DF: Thank you, I’m really proud of it. I know, I didn’t even do a lot, I put a camera on a two-shot with two of our best actors who have been alive in the past 50 years and then I let them act their faces off and be perfect. They’re incredible in that final scene of the film.
MB: They really are. So what prompted the transition from screenwriting to directing?
DF: I felt it was time and, also, I just fell in love with the script and as I was writing it I couldn’t imagine giving it to anybody else to be in charge of it. And then once I got Al, who I had written it for, I was done. I was like, “I have to direct this movie if it kills me” and so that was it, I didn’t really have a choice.
MB: Based on this experience would you direct again?
DF: Yeah, I loved it. I’m a writer first and foremost and always. So I’m hard pressed to think I’d ever direct a movie that I didn’t write right now, but you never know. But yeah, I can imagine with the right film and being attached to it the way I am, I would imagine wanting to write it if I got attached to it.
MB: Do you find it harder to write for live-action versus animation?
DF: Same thing, they’re all movies. They have different challenges that you worry about. Animation you can be more unabashedly sweet, nobody ever bashes an animated film for being too sweet but at the same point, you know, you have to create characters and expressions and trust in that. I don’t have Al Pacino on stage or on screen to do what I need him to do, so they each come with their own challenges, but on the writing level, at the end of the day, you’re just writing a movie no matter whose starring, live or animated.
MB: Is Bradley Cooper going to be directing Honeymoon with Harry?
DF: That’s the rumor. I just finished my first draft of the screenplay which is going to him shortly.
MB: ‘Cause it sounds like a great idea, I like the concept.
DF: It’s a great project, he’ll kill it in any capacity. I’m super excited, I hope he likes it. I’ve literally just finished a draft that he hasn’t even received yet, so it’s all a little premature.
Last up is one of the main stars of the film, Bobby Cannavale, who plays Al Pacino’s son in the film and does a fantastic job doing so.
Bobby Cannavale: Thank you man, thank you so much.
MB: It was really nice to see you depart from the tough guy character, obviously there are elements of that toughness in your role, but what drew you to him exactly and do you think this has opened doors to take on a leading dramatic role or anything like that?
BC: Thanks. I don’t know, I don’t think about that too much. I mean I’m pretty happy with the roles I’m getting now. I don’t think about them in terms of how many lines I have or if they’re a lead or not and, frankly, I always thought the weird best friend was better than the lead role anyway, or the sidekick was always more interesting.
MB: Couldn’t agree more. Was the NY Mets line “the Mets break my heart every year” was that your line? Cause I don’t know many NJ people that support the Mets.
BC: Na, that was Dan’s line and he wouldn’t let me change it to the Yankees because he’s like “the Yankees are awesome” and I’m like “yeah, but I don’t wanna play a Mets fan, dude.” That was the hardest acting to do, to be a Mets fan.
Thanks again to Bleecker Street for having us on the carpet. You can catch Danny Collins in theaters now.