Film lover John Turturro talks about Fading Gigolo

We caught up with John Turturro at this year’s Camerimage Festival where he was promoting his new film Fading Gigolo. It looks set for release in the spring and stars himself, Woody Allen, Vanessa ParadisSharon Stone and Sophìa Vergara; who are determined to, ‘do the menage’.

John, tell us what your film is all about?

My film is Fading Gigolo and it will probably be coming out in the spring. It’s about a relationship between these two fellas, one guy is older, his name is Murray and he is played by Woody Allen, and I play the younger guy Fioravante who works in his book shop and also works part time in a flower shop. It’s about these little worlds, these old establishments that are going out of business in many places especially in big cities. This guy is losing his book store and he eventually comes up with this crazy scheme to try to get me to work as a gigolo and for him to be my pimp for his doctor and her friends and of course the character resists and they go into business together. My character thinks he’s a very an unlikely candidate to do that, but he lives alone and he has a series of girlfriends but he’s a person that has never committed. There are men who are comfortable around women and in women’s worlds, but they never made that commitment and sometimes you can get a little long in the tooth and you become, that’s how you are; anyway, it’s a film that is really about people looking to connect and how sometimes difficult that is and how people can be lonely, even within a marriage. It’s a delicate comedy about people looking for a human connection. We get into trouble during the course of it because we get involved in a religious community.

What was it like to Direct Woody Allen and who else stars in the film?

Vanessa Paradis is in it, she plays an acidic widow, Sharon Stone plays a dermatologist and Sofìa Vergara plays Sharon Stone’s friend who is interested to ‘be involved’. Liev Schreiber plays Vanesa Paradis’s suitor. Woody liked the premise and so when I would write it, Woody would give me his unmitigated merciless feedback. I worked with Woody also in the theatre and that helped, so we know each other and I have a great respect for him and a lot of affection for him. It actually was a really wonderful experience for me because I’m not 25 and to work with someone older than you and who is really experienced, even if you don’t always agree, it’s a real privilege to do that, he’s very smart and very funny. I’ld work with him again in a split second. I think some of our relationship is in the film in a way.


What were your objectives when making the film? 

I wanted to make a film that had some density to it and had different levels, even though when you look at the cover, you could say ‘oh this is just like a little a comedy’, but sometimes a human comedy can actually reveal some deep things. Simplicity is a hard thing to achieve, simplicity that actually has complexity within it and I think that is what Woody was encouraging me to do.

Where did you find inspiration to create the look of the film? 

We looked at a lot of different paintings, photographs by various photographers including Saul Leiter who I really love. We looked at a lot of Morandi paintings, we looked different films including some Bergman films. So we had a color scheme with my production designer Lester Cohen and my costume designer Donna Zakowska, so we all worked together on creating. There were a lot of images of flowers because the guy works in a flower store.


What medium did you decide to shoot on? 

Eventually we decided to shoot on film, we did tests with the ARRI, but we thought it was more flattering to women’s skin to use film. We chose lenses that we thought were appropriate to the old feeling of the world that we were trying to get, we even used 8mm for the credits, I bought an 8mm camera and it was interesting to develop that because there are only a few places who develop that now. So it was a very nice collaboration, with Technicolor and the colorist Tim Stipan, who did a great job. I was involved in all of those elements and I like to be involved, because a cinematographer can be brilliant, but if the production design isn’t there and the costume isn’t there then that can, one little thing can kill a film. Also when you’re within limited means, every film works within their own budget and their own means, then you have to be more specific and more adventurous and more industrious, it’s part of the gig. I really enjoyed doing it, and I like to do it again very quickly.