While Kim Cattrall and Robert De Niro both appeared in the 2001 satirical thriller 15 Minutes, the new Lionsgate comedy About My Father, now in theaters, marks the first time they’ve actually shared scenes together in a film.
The importance of family lies at the heart of the new Laura Terruso-directed comedy and the conflict generated by Cattrall’s character Tigger and husband Bill (David Rasche) as they get to know comedian Sebastian Maniscalco’s father Salvo (De Niro) drives some of the film’s funnier moments.
Timing is everything and Rasche, known most recently for his recurring role in HBO’s Succession, flexes a funnier muscle in About My Father. Terruso presided over a creative affair where improvisation was encouraged and the interplay between Tigger and Bill shines throughout.
“She’s just always there. She’s really fun to work with,” said Rasche of Cattrall earlier this month during a red carpet premiere of About My Father in Chicago. “She’s willing to do anything. Everybody was. It was a total fun fest,” he said of filming the new comedy.
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“I think it really kept it very much alive. Because Laura Terruso, she’s a writer as well as a director,” added Cattrall of the director’s approach. “I felt everyone was relaxed enough and not scared to have a suggestion or add something to the scene whether it was physically or with dialogue. So it felt like a very cooperative experience – which I think is what improv is.”
I spoke with Kim Cattrall on the red carpet at Chicago’s AMC River East prior to a special screening of About My Father on improv, cigars with De Niro, Terruso’s direction and the importance of storytelling. A transcript of our conversation, lightly edited for length and clarity, follows below.
Jim Ryan: Obviously the story here is funny – but it also tugs at the heartstrings a bit in terms of that idea of the importance of family. What was your initial reaction to reading Sebastian’s screenplay and getting into the Tigger character?
Kim Cattrall: Well, they told me it was a comedy with Robert De Niro playing a hairdresser so I said yes. Because I want to see that. So if I want to see that, I think, “Well, maybe other people would want to see it…” And everybody that I’ve told – without going into any detail – people get a chuckle out of just the concept of that.
I love Sebastian. I think he’s brilliant. He’s really funny. And his humor is very much reflected in this film: it’s about family.
Ryan: One of my favorite scenes in the movie involves your character and Robert De Niro’s sharing cigars. How much prep went into that scene?
Cattrall: That was really fun to film. Because I didn’t really know what was going to happen. And then Bob blew a smoke ring. I thought, “Well, I could do that…” So I blew one back. So it had sort of a life of its own!
Ryan: I’ve heard you say that working with Laura was not only an enjoyable experience but also allowed for a bit of improvisation. What was it like working with her on this film?
Cattrall: I think it really kept it very much alive. Because Laura Terruso, she’s a writer as well as a director. So she would yell things out – sometimes in Italian to Bob and he would repeat them. So sometimes I didn’t know what the heck was going on. But it was fun!
I felt everyone was relaxed enough and not scared to have a suggestion or add something to the scene whether it was physically or with dialogue. So it felt like a very cooperative experience – which I think is what improv is.
Ryan: Today, we see everything geared toward the summer tent poles and the Marvel movies and a lot of times storytelling takes a backseat to the visuals. But this movie is really story-driven. How important is that idea to great film making?
Cattrall: Yeah, it is. I think it’s important to an audience. Because I think it’s more satisfying. It’s not just rooting for one character, it’s rooting for all of the characters – if it’s well done. Every character, other than a day player with a few lines, has part of that story to tell.
In this case, I don’t think there’s a weak link. It’s a strong cast.