Newspaper article The Canadian Press

John Turturro Directs Woody Allen after Chance Meeting through Barber

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

John Turturro Directs Woody Allen after Chance Meeting through Barber

Article excerpt

Turturro casts Woody Allen through barber

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TORONTO - In "Fading Gigolo," Woody Allen plays an unlikely pimp to John Turturro's rather unlikely sex worker.

The story behind the film coming together is perhaps equally unlikely.

"The guy who cuts my hair was always telling me that Woody liked me," relayed a chatty Turturro in a recent interview. "One day I just thought: 'Wow, that would be an interesting coupling, us together.' And it would especially be interesting if it we were an unlikely duo in the world of streetwalkers since there's been so many films about it.

"I was sketching some ideas out and then I blabbed it to the guy who cuts our hair, and he actually shared it with Woody ... and Woody loved it."

From there, Turturro began working on the script that would become "Fading Gigolo," which the Golden Globe-nominated star of "The Big Lebowski," the "Transformers" franchise and "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" also directed.

He also portrays Fioravante, a reserved florist who dips his toes into the world of sex work to generate money for his friend Murray (Allen), a bookstore owner mired in financial strife.

Among his conquests? A sexually frustrated dermatologist played by Sharon Stone who wants to include a friend (played by Sofia Vergara) in her dalliance with Fioravante. Another potential love interest is Avigal (Vanessa Paradis), the widow of a Hasidic Rabbi, though their relationship is more complex.

Turturro researched the script diligently, ultimately coming away determined to depict the grey areas of an industry typically treated in morally absolute terms. The long gestation period also gave him the chance to grow closer to Allen, who offered up feedback throughout the process.

Principally, Turturro said the four-time Oscar winner steered him toward a "more believable ... more nuanced direction."

"He certainly added some funny lines, sprinkled here and there," offered Turturro, 57. "When he gave me feedback, he gave it much more in a structural way.

"Sometimes," he added, "a person can say one thing and that's a lot."

Allen's character came easily to Turturro, but he spent more time fleshing out his own.

Ultimately, he says, Fioravante is "confident but not cocky," someone who doesn't necessarily trust the longevity of romance but has a gentle charm all the same.

"He likes women -- lots of men, I think, don't like women," Turturro said. "In a lot of Latin cultures, they have that line: 'I want a man, but not too pretty.'

"And I like that. 'Not too pretty,' that could have been the title."

Here, Turturro smoothly segues into a discussion of beauty, and how it's represented onscreen.

"I've worked with a lot of beautiful people, and they're not that sexy," he said. "The reason they're not sexy is that a lot of times they're so used to getting the attention .. …

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