Maude Apatow and Bel Powley are among the brightest stars in young Hollywood. Both became famous as girls, the first one thanks to cameo roles in the comedies directed by the father, Judd Apatow, Very pregnant (2007), Funny people (2009) e These are the 40 (2012); the second in TV series like MI High- School of spies down to the role that gave her success, Diary of a teenager (2015). Since then the two actresses have established themselves on the big screen – Apatow in Assassination Nation (2018), and Powley in Mary Shelley (2017) e Cocaine – The true story of White Boy Rick (2018) – and they appeared in some of the most viewed TV series in 2019: The Morning Show on Apple TV +, in which Powley plays the role of an assistant, and Euphoria of HBO, in which Apatow is a judicious teenager.
Their paths crossed in The king of Staten Island, an irreverent comedy directed by Judd Apatow, starring Pete Davidson (both collaborated on the screenplay with Dave Sirus).
The film tells the story of Scott (Davidson), an aspiring tattoo artist who lives with his family on Staten Island and suffers from the death of his fireman father. When his sister Claire (Maude Apatow) goes to college, his mother (Marisa Tomei) starts dating a man (Bill Burr) and his story with his childhood friend Kelsey (Powley) ends, Scott is forced to grow up and face his demons. Although it’s a fictional story, the film is based in part on the life of Davidson, the son of a fireman who died in the 9/11 attacks. His brilliant monologues mix sadness and hilarity.
© Mary Cybulski / Universal Pictures
On the occasion of the digital release of the film, we spoke on Zoom with Bel Powley and Maude Apatow who told us about the funniest moments on the set, how they became real Staten Island girls and their return to TV.
What was it like working with Pete Davidson on such a personal project for him?
Bel Powley: “Pete and I are friends and when I heard that the film was being made I asked if there was a role for me, and I auditioned. On set we were a very close group. Pete surrounded himself with relatives and friends and also with Judd’s relatives and friends. We all knew each other a lot, and we all respected the fact that we were making a film about tragic events in Pete’s life. We didn’t want to disappoint him, but at the same time on the set there was a cheerful atmosphere “.
Maude Apatow: “My father and Pete started writing together about three years ago. When they started casting, I auditioned with Pete. He always supported me a lot. I can’t imagine how strange it was to see actors who play characters vaguely inspired by people he knows and loves. “
Did you feel under pressure playing the role of real people?
BUT: “Claire’s character is inspired by Pete’s sister, Casey. I didn’t want her to think I was making her imitation, so I tried not to spend too much time with her before filming. I still wanted to make the role mine, so I talked to Pete and Ricky (Velez, it’s Oscar, Editor’s note) about the dynamics between them. After that, Casey and I have seen each other quite a few times, she is a friend, and I love her. “
BP: “Kelsey’s character is not based on a particular person, however. It is a mix of Pete’s ex-girlfriends. By this I don’t mean that he had a lot of girls (laughs), I don’t know, huh! “
What’s the funniest thing that happened on set?
BP: “In one of the first scenes, we are all sitting in the basement and Lou (Wilson, is Richie, Editor’s note), is smoking from this huge bong. He had to redo the scene 5 times. I felt sorry for him because he coughed like a madman and we laughed because the scene had to be funny but it turned out badly. Other than that, all the improvised parts of Scott’s group of friends were fun. Much of the film is improvised and it was a completely new way of working for me. “
© Photography Mary Cybulski / Universal Pictures
BUT: “” Pete and Bill (Burr, Ed) were so funny together, they always made us laugh during the clapperboard. On the last day of filming, we shot a scene where a group of firefighters shoot water with a pump on Pete while he’s in bed (laughs), it was fantastic. ”
Was it strange for you, Maude, to be directed again by your adult father?
BUT: “The last time I worked with him was almost 10 years ago, I was 12 years old and I didn’t take acting seriously like I do now. Since then I have worked for television and independent films and in these projects you never have much time. Instead, my father spends half a day on each scene, which means you can really do it well and take risks without worrying about making mistakes. “
BP: “Judd is one of my favorite directors and one of the most collaborative people I’ve ever worked with. After signing up to make the film, we did two to three months of workshops on our characters. We tried to understand how Kelsey and Scott’s relationship could be when they were kids and we thought about a lot of previous history between them. During these workshops, we decided that Kelsey loves Staten Island and wants to be a state employee. And we also chose our fake tattoos. Kelsey’s was the postcode for Staten Island, but in Roman numerals, which is a lot of fun. “
You turned into perfect Staten Island girls, which for Bel means fake tan, long nails and a very strong accent. How did you feel when you entered the character?
BP: “I actually wanted even more! I wanted to wear these very long extensions, and at one point Judd had to say no to prevent me from becoming a caricature (laughs). I had a lot of fun! I looked at myself a lot of episodes of Made in Staten Island reality TV and I was inspired by the look of this character, the daughter of a Staten Island gangster. The tan, the nails, and the long hair, everything. We shot in the summer, and having to put on so much makeup was difficult, everything melted away. But I liked the end result very much ”.
© Photography Mary Cybulski / Universal Pictures
You both had success on TV – Bel con The Morning Show on Apple TV + and Maude with Euphoria on HBO and with Hollywood on Netflix. Will there be new seasons?
BP: “We had already started shooting the second season of The Morning Show when the pandemic came. We are now on standby and are trying to understand how and when to shoot. I think it will be very complicated to make the set a safe space, but I hope it will happen as soon as possible because I love working in that series and I know that the audience is waiting for new episodes “.
BUT: “For Euphoria we had already done the script readings and shooting tests and we were ready to go. And I think we should have started filming the week they closed everything. I don’t know when we will start shooting again and it will not be easy to understand it because, for example, the last time (for the first season, Editor’s note) we shot for almost nine months, so I think there will be a lot of waiting. “
Aside from the job, what did you do during the lockdown?
BUT: “I have watched all the documentaries on Netflix since Tiger King to How to Fix a Drug Scandal. Bel and I told each other how much we liked each other Normal People is RuPaul’s Drag Race“!
BP: “But I’m very sad about RuPaul’s Drag Race! They were unable to shoot the grand finale because of Covid. They had to compete in playback in front of a screen! All my admiration, of course, but I wanted a real ending. Other than that, I’ve looked at a lot of classics like Roman holidays is Funny girl. I also did gardening and started knitting, in the middle of summer, great idea “! (Laughs).
You both wrote on Instagram on #BlackoutTuesday. How did you feel about the protests spreading around the world, and what should we do to support Black Lives Matter?
BP: “Protest, make donations, sign petitions and get informed. I try to do everything I can. From a cultural point of view it seems that a real change is coming, and I hope it will happen, because it had to happen for a long time ”.
BUT: “I also believe it is important to read everything you can find on the subject, to keep you informed as much as possible, and not only by reading the titles on Twitter, but by reading the articles well. Seeing all those people fighting together for what’s right is a great inspiration. “
Staten Island King is available from June 12, 2020 on Sky Store, Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV, Google Play and other digital platforms.