John Turturro, writer-director-and title star of his film "Fading Gigolo", told the Washington Jewish Film Festival audience March 8 that co-star Woody Allen was "a doll to work with" but was a "merciless" critic of the script.
Imagine, writing a role for -- and directing -- Woody Allen. His latest of numerous awards, including four Oscars®, was the Golden Globes' 2013 Cecil B. DeMille® Award honoring lifetime achievement in film.
Allen very rarely acts in anyone else's films, and has not acted in his own movies for years. In "Fading Gigolo", under Turturro's direction, Allen appears far less neurotic, far more sensitive and endearing than usual.
"I asked him to tone it down a bit," Turturro noted about the renowned actor, but acknowledged, "You can err..."
The idea, writing, and title ("I wanted to be humble") were Turturro's.
Having written a key role with Allen in mind, Turturro shared the initial idea with their mutual hair cutter, and the barber/stylist shared it with Allen.
"Woody told him to call me," Turturro explained. "If you have a good hair cutter, it's very important."
And important to have a good script idea, which he summarized like this, "You're a prostitute; Woody's a pimp; and there's a threesome."
"Woody gave me merciless criticism. He was pretty tough on the script," Turturro, the film's fading gigolo, told the sneak peek audience. The film, opening in April, evokes early Allen comedies.
Originally, the trio in the threesome were to be older, "but Woody said that's hard to make funny." Also, Allen encouraged Turturro to make the film "as nuanced and sophisticated as possible."
"I knew Woody liked me and I liked him -- I get a kick out of him," Turturro said. In the middle of their making the film, Allen asked Turturro to direct "Relatively Speaking" -- three one-act plays, one written by Allen, another by Elaine May, and another by Ethan Cohen, that ran on Broadway Sept. 20, 2011-Jan. 29, 2012.
The last questioner at the film festival event asked about "the 900-pound gorilla in the room", the Allen controversy regarding renewed, unproven allegations of decades-old sexual impropriety.
"I won't comment on him. I wouldn't want anyone to comment about me," Turturro responded. "He's a friend. That's all I can say."