Judd Apatow has shown a skill for crafting vehicles for offbeat comic personalities that channel elements of their lives and the things that make them so appealing. After doing this with Steve Carell, Seth Rogen, Lena Dunham and Amy Schumer, Apatow channeled the slacker charm and energy of Pete Davidson, the Saturday Night Live cast member who as a child lost his firefighter father in 9/11.
Davidson’s character in Universal’s The King of Staten Island, Scott Carlin, can’t seem to get launched. He is frozen in his ambition and unable to connect to his girlfriend played by Bel Powley, or anyone else for that matter. He’s faced with a catalyst for change when his mother kicks him out of his house, a move that leads him to bunking in a local firehouse where Scott’s father, who was killed in a fire, was a local legend. After seeing his father turned into almost a deity by family members and his mother, Scott hears stories of excess that somehow humanize a father whose heroic exploits intimidated him, something Davidson says during the film’s panel at Deadline’s Contenders Film awards-season event happened also to him.
Apatow surrounded Davidson with a terrific cast that includes Marisa Tomei, Steve Buscemi and Bill Burr for a movie that smartly infuses Staten Island and firefighter culture. In the panel, Apatow discusses how the experience of working with Davidson in the Schumer comedy Trainwreck made him want to craft something specific for him. Being asked by Apatow to collaborate in a movie, Davidson says, was like Eminem being approached by Dr. Dre to work together on a hip-hop album. The result was one of few memorable original comedy films of 2020.
Check out the panel video above.
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