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John Turturro 'Fading Gigolo' interview

At this time of year people are talking about the newest summer blockbusters being released. However, if you take a look around, there are also some great independent gems to be found too. One of them is "Fading Gigolo" the new film by writer, director and star, John Turturro that also co-stars Woody Allen. The two play old friends who form an unusual business as Turturro's character becomes a gigolo and Woody Allen is his pimp.

John Turturro at the MIFF 31 red carpet
Steven Lebowitz

The movie is playing really well and that is no surprise as "Fading Gigolo" won the Audience Award for Best Picture at the 31st Annual Miami International Film Festival a couple of months ago. I was able to sit down with the multitalented John Turturro while he was in Miami. He loved when I asked about my favorite shot in the movie and how long had he been impersonating Woody Allen too.

So how long have you been doing that spot on Woody Allen impersonation? How long have I been doing it?

Yes. I guess since I started working with him. Lots of people imitate Woody.

Yours is dead on. Yeah. I spent a lot of time with him talking about the script. When we did "Relatively Speaking" on Broadway, that was three one acts. He asked me to direct the plays written by him, Elaine May and Ethan Coen, so I spent a lot of time with him auditioning, rehearsing and then all the previews. So you get to know someone. Hopefully that comes across in "Fading Gigolo" too. I've been doing it for a couple of years.

It's very good. (answering doing a perfect Woody Allen) Well, thank you.

I don't know if you storyboarded this ahead of time or not, my favorite shot in the film is the close up shot of Avigal's (Vanessa Paradis) feet during the kiss. Thank you! Oh, I love that! I'm so glad. I added that shot because I loved her stockings and I loved her feet. She is so small and I saw her going like this (pantomimes leaning up) because I'm much taller than her. I had the shot of the wig, of course and the hair, but when I saw her do that motion I said, "Let's do that pick up of her feet." It's like Dorothy in "The Wizard of Oz" or something. You feet, backs and backs of heads are so expressive in paintings and photographs, but in movies, we go so used to the close up. Which used to be used to really emphasize something. I think you can gain a lot by that. So thanks for mentioning that. I like that shot too.

Like I said, it's my favorite shot in the film. I thought it showed and said a lot in a few seconds of her feet. That's right! Because you see those shoes and you see those stockings. Those stockings are really restrictive.

Can you share the genesis of when the desire to direct films began to swell inside you? It started with "Mac" because I had a story I wanted to tell and none of the directors I wanted were available. Then I started thinking maybe I should try do a short and see how I feel. I'm a middle child and I'm the person who kind of organizes things, takes care of everybody so it's part of my nature and I like exercising that part of my nature. I'd like to do it more, especially if I can work with some of the people I got to work with on this movie. I was offered a lot of movies after "Mac" to direct and I didn't want to do something that didn't generate from me somehow, a book I loved or something. All the things I've done I've been involved with on an emotional level and that's what I like to do.

"Fading Gigolo" is now playing at select theaters around South Florida.

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