Even yesterday’s epic snow storm in Park City couldn’t stifle the dreams of aspiring rapper Patti Cake$. Geremy Jasper’s so-titled musical odyssey about a Jersey girl chasing hip-hop superstardom premiered on the snowiest and most inhospitable day of the festival in years, but still managed to trigger an overnight bidding war that looks set to land the film at Fox Searchlight for $10.5 million.
Danielle MacDonald plays Patricia Dombrowski, aka Patti Cake$, aka Killa P, aka any number of other monikers. She spits rhymes on the harsh streets of New Jersey, with only her pharmacist best friend Jheri aka Jheromeo (aka first-time actor Siddharth Dhananjay, now owed a huge career) to believe in her. She works double time at a bar frequented by her hard-drinking mom (Bridget Everett) and at a catering company to pay off her beloved Nana’s (Cathy Moriarty) medical bills.
It’s only when she meets Basterd, the Antichrist (The Get Down‘s Mamoudou Athie) – a mysterious musician who lives in an abandoned cabin with all the equipment necessary to produce a polished demo – that her dreams have one shot, one opportunity to become a reality.
The entire cast joined Jasper at Deadline’s Sundance Studio to discuss the movie – serving up one of the more riotous interviews of our week. Jasper, who started as a musician, told me that he put the 15-song soundtrack together in pre-production. “Each member of the group would come in, and everyone had at least one song, or multiple songs,” he said. “The great thing for me was I got to sing those songs first and kind of feel like the character, and then the character would come in. Everybody made every song to the next level. I didn’t even know it could get that good.”
For MacDonald, who’d never rapped before, there was a learning curve. “There were some uncomfortable things to do,” she admitted. “But Geremy just made us feel all comfortable, and that’s how it turned into a family.“
MacDonald is a revelation, heading a pitch-perfect ensemble of actors who all get to take part in the movie’s music. Mom is a dive bar karaoke queen, attempting to re-live her glory days as Barb Wire, whose record deal never materialized. Even Nana gets her moment to shine, joining Patti, Jheromeo and Basterd to form the rap supergroup PBNJ. Said Jasper: “It comes from my childhood and my high school years, and my love of hip-hop, and it’s kind of a valentine to the women that raised me.”
Nana is “the voice of reason, which I have none,” joked Moriarty. And mom “used to wear a lot of leather,” laughed Everett. “If you like boobs you’re going to love it.”
Check out more from the cast and Jasper in our exclusive video interview above.
Actors, directors, filmmakers and special guests visiting the Deadline Studio at Sundance 2017 enjoyed sweet and savory treats, custom cocktails and more at Applegate’s REEL FOOD CAFE. Find out more about Applegate and their mission to change the meat we eat at www.applegate.com.