ShockYa recently had the opportunity to talk to the stars of the new movie The Family. Robert De Niro plays a mobster in the Witness Protection Program living in France with his family – his wife, played by Michelle Pfeiffer, and his children, played by Dianna Agron and John D’Leo. Enjoy some of the best questions and answers from a press conference with all four Family members as well as a more intimate chat with rising star D’Leo.
Q: What appeals about this film?
Robert De Niro: Everyone’s always interested in a dark theme.
Dianna Agron: Escapism, Almost no one will say that they relate to this movie.
John D’Leo: There are lots of different elements. It’s going to be a good package.
Michelle Pfeiffer: It’s about what’s taboo. In civilized societies, we spend our lifetimes trying to become what’s socially acceptable. Watching this movie, you’ll be horrified and laughing at the same time, ashamed that you’re laughing at this horror in front of you.
Q: What are the elements that turn a dark comedy into a classic?
De Niro: The human element is a part of it. There has to be a grounding in reality.
Pfeiffer: Covering new territory and a good story are both very important.
Q: Is this movie similar at all to Married to the Mob?
Pfeiffer: They’re both stories of motherhood, whether you’re a mob wife or not. The only real connection is that both of my characters are married to mobsters. I was a little nervous that people would make comparisons between the two characters, but they really are different.
Q: Does Hollywood have its own mafia?
De Niro: Like any profession, business, community, it has its groups that work together.
Q: What was it like working with these actors?
D’Leo: De Niro certainly has the resume to prove that he’s a reference for young actors, he’s good. It was really fun to witness them professionally on the set, and it made my time on set more enjoyable. As far as Dianna is concerned, I’m not a Gleek. I don’t really watch it that much. But she’s the most photogenic person I know. She looks great on camera.
Agron: I have seen everything that De Niro and Pfeiffer and director Luc Besson have done. It’s obviously what you can aspire to be. Looking at all the strokes painted on the canvas and seeing what they do with these characters was the biggest learning curve.
Pfeiffer: It doesn’t really get much better than working with De Niro. The third time was the charm – it took three movies to actually be on screen with him. We had only ever met on the red carpet. I was so relieved to see how generous he was as actors with us. My only regret is that we didn’t have more scenes together. The “young uns” had been filming a few weeks before, and they had already found their groove by the time we started. The freshness was intimidating, and we had to make constant effort to keep things fresh. It’s always invigorating and rejuvenating to work with young blood.
De Niro: They were terrific. We had a lot of fun.
Q: Do you plan to slow down acting?
De Niro: What, die? I don’t do as many movies as you think. They’re spread out more these days.
Q: If you had to flee in real life, what is one thing wouldn’t leave behind?
Agron: My dog.
D’Leo: My real family.
Pfeiffer: The living things inside the home: animals, children, husbands – not in that order.
Q: What are the similarities between your on-screen families and your real families?
Agron: Unconditional love. We would do anything for each other.
Pfeiffer: The familial bond. I also have one son and one daughter.
De Niro: Both Michelle and I have experience with family, and we were able to move into these roles easily.
Q: John, what’s most exciting about turning eighteen?
D’Leo: I got my license. Driving around is a lot of fun. My brother jokes that my parents will let me go on auditions by myself.
Q: Coming in to this film, what were you most looking forward to?
D’Leo: With this one character, I got to do so many different things on so many different levels that most actors don’t get to do in several films. This is not just a normal mob movie. It’s a fish-out-of-water story. All the people I got to work with obviously, and filming in France for three months was unreal. It was my first time out of the country. I had to get my passport and everything.
Q: Did anything surprise you about French culture?
D’Leo: The cream sauces. It was amazing. I had this sauce that was a curry cream sauce about four times.
Q: How do you think friends of yours from school would react to you in this role?
D’Leo: I think that kids my age wouldn’t have any idea what to say. I get lots of positive feedback from kids in school.
Q: What are you doing next?
D’Leo: Lots of auditioning, lots of studying. Nothing solid or on paper yet. What would I like to do? I feel like I’ve satisfied a lot of my career needs in this one movie. A Western would be great. I’d really like to try to be on Hawaii Five-O. I’d like to take my mom to Hawaii; that would be a great trip. The biggest step I could do to next would be working with Martin Scorsese or Steven Spielberg, Robert Downey Jr., and Johnny Depp.
Written by Abe Fried-Tanzer