Last week I caught up Andy Garcia while he was in London promoting his latest film City Island â a charming dysfunctional family flick that will melt even the coldest heart â I promise you, you’ll leave the cinema with a big fat smile on your face!Â Andy Garcia is an incredibly talented actor that I love seeing in anything, especially in great roles like this one.
What attracted you to City Island? And how did you get involved?
Andy Garcia: The script was sent to me by the director, who was also the writer â Raymond De Felitta, with the offer of playing the part and to produce the film with him if I liked to. I was very charmed by the script, it was easy to fall in love with. First of all it was a part that doesn’t necessarily come my way that often, it wasn’t the type of character I recognise immediately, the humanity in it, the humour, the emotion in it. Also the surprises in the story telling, there were always turns I wasn’t expecting, it was very clever. But then I had to decide if I also wanted to co produce it because I know what that challenge is having done about half a dozen films independently, I know it’s not a vanity title. I guess it can be if the film comes to you already financed. I knew with the climate that we have in today’s international distribution system, that people would most likely recognise the beauty in the script and we’ll be able to cast the movie well with great actors because actors want to play great parts.
It’s a challenge as a producer to get money, you challenge yourself by thinking, you’ve got no money, no one’s interested in your movie, do you abandon it or do you put it on your shoulders and say come on we’ve got to find a way and that’s what we did. It took us two and a half years, so I’m kind of very careful where I say I want to be a producer, I could have just said I love the part, I’d love to play it, you can use my name for whatever and let me know when we start. That would have been easier (laughs).
There’s such a great ensemble feel to the film, with that struggling against the odd’s feeling do you think that added to that feel?
Andy Garcia: Yeah, like I said I knew the film would attract great actors, both Julianna and Emily were friends of mine and people I had worked with before, they were the first people that came to my mind for these parts. In a way the stars had to line up because with Emily when we first called her she wasn’t available, but then when we got the money for the film, the actress that we had had another commitment she had to honour, so the part became available again. Everyone was great, Julianna jumped in with no prep, there was no rehearsal, the movie was shot in 27 days, we had a table read on Sunday, we started shooting on Monday. On Monday we sat around the dining room table and started eating pasta and arguing.
How easy did you find the accent?
Andy Garcia: I worked on it for a while. I had done accent’s from the New York region, but Brooklyn is different from the Bronx, every area is different. I had some time to work on it. It’s an ear that’s fairly familiar to me to some degree because I had gone into that world before, I’m not from New York, I’m not an Italian American even though I would say I’m Italian American by digestion (laughs), at some point I think I completely inherited the Italian culture through the amount of pasta I’ve consumed over the years. I’ve been blessed to play some great parts in that culture. I enjoyed the accent a lot, I enjoyed the character so much, I thought he was so uniquely drawn. I had so many ideas thinking about earning the right to go certain places with him.
What was it like working with your own daughter?
Andy Garcia: She was great, she’s a terrific actress, she was completely prepared and professional, she’s been acting all her life. You always try to personalize things for any part, but the fact that she was there, we were able to exist in our own dynamics that fit this particular movie, then we drew up on those to infuse it. It was very easy, she’s a great actress, very easy going.
I really loved the audition scene, can your remember your first audition?
Andy Garcia: I try not to (laughs)
I thought that scene rounded up the character perfectly, that when it really got down to it, he done his thingâ¦
Andy Garcia: Well it’s a gift from the son, the son is the catalyst for this family to finally get it’s act together, he’s the one that brings everyone together. He gives me the best acting tip, not even Alan Arkin’s character could give me the best acting tip. It was the son who kind of showed him the way. That was the only thing I did, other than some improvisation that you naturally do with the script as your exploring it, it was the only thing I could remember that we really kind of worked on once we got the script. Initially my character had an obsession with all things New York in terms of movies, with Scorsese, De Niro, Pacino, Brando, Coppola, The Godfather’s, Taxi Driver, so he had all these posters in his correctional office and I said to Ray you know this guy is too embarrassed to have anything up anywhere, I said I’d like to change that and just make it one person, I said all those guy’s are like God’s but really there’s only one Zeus and that’s Brando. Brando is the top of the pyramid, he changed the way acting is approached in the eyes of many so I thought it would be better if we could just focus on one guy and then it should be private, he should have thing’s in his draws, the son should discover all the Brando films on VHS and then slowly that should lead to this allergic reaction that he has in the audition, he’s so nervous he doesn’t even realise he imitates Brando. He doesn’t really know how to act so he falls into the fact that this is what acting is. I done this very bad impression of Brando and Ray started laughing and saying that could be very funny, but we have to earn the right to get there, so that when it happens it has to be a natural thing. We had to drill the beats into the story and what’s funny when people see the movie and out of nervousness Brando starts to creep out, you physically see the audience go OH NOOOOOOOOOO (laughs), some of them literally say that out loud, I’ve seen the movie a lot of times now with an audience and they literally are going oh no, ohhh no, oh no, he’s not gonna do that, OH NO, OH MY GOD (laughs). They feel so bad for him, they’re really rooting for this character so much, they really want him to get the part, they want him to fix his life, the poor bloke, they really just want him to do well.
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