EXCLUSIVE: Emmy winner Steve Buscemi (Trees Lounge, Boardwalk Empire) has wrapped production on his latest directorial effort, The Listener, starring Emmy nominee Tessa Thompson (Passing, Westworld), Deadline has learned.
The contained film written by Oscar nominee Alessandro Camon (The Messenger) features only one on-screen role. It tells the story of Beth (Thompson), a helpline volunteer who is part of the small army that gets on the phone every night across America, fielding calls from all kinds of people feeling lonely, broken, hopeless, and worried.
Over the last year, the tide has become a tsunami, and as Beth goes through her shift, the stakes rise: is this the night she will lose someone? Save someone? Put a mind at ease? Make someone smile? Eventually, Beth’s own story comes to light, revealing why she does it. All along we remain with her: listening, comforting, connecting – patching the world back together, one stitch at a time…
The Listener went before cameras in Los Angeles in August and September. Buscemi and Wren Arthur produced under their Olive Productions banner, with Thompson; Oren Moverman for Sight Unseen Pictures; Lauren Hantz for Hantz Motion Pictures; and Sean King O’Grady and Bill Stertz for Atlas Industries.
Kat Barnette and Billy Mulligan co-produced, with Sight Unseen’s Eddie Vaisman and Julia Lebedev exec producing alongside Suzanne Warren and Hantz Motion Pictures’ John Hantz.
Hantz Motion Pictures served as sole financier. Verve is handling domestic sales for the film, which will look to premiere and be shopped for acquisition at a major film festival next year.
Buscemi is an actor, writer, director and producer who has claimed an Emmy, a Golden Globe, a Gotham Tribute Award, a New York Film Critics Circle Award, two Indie Spirit Awards, four SAG Awards, two DGA Award nominations, and many other accolades, over the course of his nearly 30-year screen career. Since 1992, he has directed acclaimed features including Trees Lounge, Animal Factory, Lonesome Jim and Interview, along with episodes of Oz, The Sopranos, Nurse Jackie, 30 Rock, Love, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Portlandia, Miracle Workers and more.
He’s known on the acting side for turns in HBO series Boardwalk Empire, the Coen Brothers’ films Fargo, The Big Lebowski, Miller’s Crossing and Barton Fink, Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs, Martin Scorsese’s New York Stories, Jim Jarmusch’s Coffee and Cigarettes and Mystery Train, Robert Altman’s Kansas City, Miguel Arteta’s Youth in Revolt, and Jerry Bruckheimer Productions’ Con Air and Armageddon, among countless other films and TV series, currently co-starring opposite Daniel Radcliffe in the TBS anthology series, Miracle Workers.
Thompson earned her first Emmy nom this year as the executive producer and star of Eugene Ashe and Amazon’s Outstanding Television Movie contender, Sylvie’s Love, having also own a Gotham Award and an Image Award, among other prizes. The actress is perhaps best known for her turn as Adonis Creed’s (Michael B. Jordan) fiancée Biance Taylor in Warner Bros. boxing franchise Creed—including in the upcoming Creed III—and as Asgardian warrior goddess Valkyrie in Thor: Ragnarok, Avengers: Endgame and the upcoming Thor: Love and Thunder.
Thompson will also soon be seen in Rebecca Hall’s black-and-white Netflix drama Passing, starring alongside Ruth Negga, André Holland and more. She’s also appeared on the film side in Men in Black: International, Little Woods, Annihilation, Sorry to Bother You, Selma and Dear White People, among other titles. Additional TV credits include HBO’s Westworld, Netflix’s series adaptation of Dear White People, Heroes and Veronica Mars.
Buscemi is represented by WME and Gotham Group. Thompson is repped by Mosaic, WME and Jeffrey Bernstein at Jackoway, Austen, Tyerman.