King of Staten Island: “There is comedy in the most difficult situations”

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Judd Apatow (center) and Pete Davidson (left) first worked together on Trainwreck


Director Judd Apatow has never been afraid to make fun of serious subjects.

In Knocked-Up, he found the humor of an unwanted pregnancy overnight. In This is 40, he made us laugh at a couple who were going through a midlife crisis. And in the 40-year-old Virgin, he addressed … well, you know.

For his latest project, The King of Staten Island, the director has teamed up with American comedy star Pete Davidson to recount the effects of September 11’s own tragedy.

Davidson, seven, lost his father Scott, who died while working as a firefighter, helping to cope with the aftermath of the 2001 plane attacks on New York. His father was one of 2,977 people to have lost my life.

“I always think that there is comedy in the most difficult situations,” said Apatow, through a virtual movie threesome junket.

“This is why we love Dr. Strangelove [Stanley Kubrik and Peter Sellers’ dark comedy about nuclear war]. You cannot have a more difficult situation than that. So that’s the goal that I’ve always seen it all.

“I think as a child I was very hostile, I didn’t feel like the world was fair. But I liked comedy movies and comedians and I liked that they made fun of the world, and they helped me try to understand IT out.

“So I don’t think anything is out of reach, if your heart is in the right place, you can really explore everything. “

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Steve Buscemi (right) plays as a firefighter who helps the character of Pete Davidson learn more about what his late father was like.


In the film, Davidson embodies a “75% true” version of himself – a 20-year-old unmanned, mourning stoner named Scott, who has behavior problems, and lives with his mother and sister in the least in the fashion of the five arrondissements.

Everything should be rich in material.

“I had similar experiences growing up like Judd, where I I didn’t think the world was fair and I had people like Adam Sandler and Jim Carey and Eddie Murphy and Bill Burr to report these things to me and make them humorous, “he said.

Burr, in this case, was able to help Davidson directly, playing on Scott’s widowed mother Margie’s new love interest; played by Marisa Tomei. As if having a new man in the house isn’t problematic enough, Ray, the character of Burr, happens to be another firefighter, and of course, the comedy ensues.

What started as “90 pages of toilet humor”, written by Davidson and his writing buddy Dave Cyrus, was, with the help of Apatow, turned into a “beautiful script,” full of ” emotion and reach ”.

“Put this part of my life behind me”

Besides being a “love letter” to his mother, Davidson, who also has executive producer credit, hopes the feature will allow him to draw a line on many of the mental health issues that plague him, very publicly , For years .

In December 2018, police checked the sometimes controversial stand-up star of SNL after alarming fans by posting on social media that he “didn’t want to be on this earth anymore” shortly after his high- rupture of the profile of ex-fiancée Ariana Grande.

“I had a lot of previous problems and a lot of things that I was dealing with personally that I wanted to bring to the fore so that I could not only make a film but also grow as a person,” says Davidson, who has borderline personality, as well as Crohn’s disease.

“Maybe what I wanted to do was that after doing that, I could put this part of my life behind me and, don’t forget it, but go ahead and have a new vision of life. “

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Scott with his longtime friend and secret lover Kelsey, played by British actress Bel Powley


Apatow thinks the main character, who dreams of one day running a tattoo restaurant, is a good reflection of what Pete’s life might be like now if he hadn’t found his comedy to call.

The couple first worked together on another Apatow film – Trainwreck in 2015, and he describes Davidson as “a funny, brilliant, and fascinating person.”

This film gave another actor and comic writer, Amy Schumer, his big movie break, and other stars like Steve Carell, Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill and Kristen Wiig all benefited in the same way from his direction from the start .

“Something positive”

Now, without a movie release, due to the closure of the Covid-19 virus cinemas, and in the context of the mass protests of Black Lives Matter, after the death of George Floyd, Davidson admits that it is “a strange moment for turn something off. ”

“It’s nice to put something positive in the world, so I hope people will enjoy it,” he said.

Making movies, Apatow points out, is “one of the most difficult professions to secure” because it involves “being close to each other, touching each other and being in very small spaces”.

The director also hopes that the protests, for those who “have been ignored for a very long time”, will “ultimately” lead to significant change “, and he urges people to vote for it in the November US elections.

“I just hope people will be nicer to each other in the future,” adds Davidson.

The thing they miss the most in the old pre-coronavirus world is the ability to just hang out with friends at comedy clubs, where Apatow also started his career, as a stand-up. The 52 year old jokes, they will both mark the online release of their film by simultaneously pressing play on iPad from their respective beds!

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Pete Davidson recommends “a fun trip” on the ferry from Staten Island, his hometown (and the Wu-Tang Clan) to New York


The King of Staten Island is a film about trauma, loss and the healing qualities of opening your heart to love and laughter again.

What could Davidson’s father have done with it?

“I think if my father was around, he would kick him,” said the head man. “It would be like,” sacred shit, man, this is crazy! ”

“My father was a big comedy fan, so I think he would just be delighted.”

In addition to being there in spirit, the real Scott is made flesh on the screen not only by his son, but also by his own father Stephen, who does a scene flying cameo as a grandfather.

Apatow says, “The truth is Pete, we never talked about it … your grandfather would be called, you can see him as a regular at Seinfeld. He could have been that guy. ”

“Oh yeah, he’s going to find work,” nods his slightly more famous grandson. For now, at least.

The King of Staten Island is now available on various platforms


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