The process of making the film has been therapeutic. Esposito claims she spent a large portion of her life battling unexplained wrath. “I had partners who would always tell me, ‘You’re so angry,'” she claims. “I would say, ‘I’m not angry. But I was. There was anger and rage”
Jennifer Esposito. Pic/AFP
Actor Jennifer Esposito, who is known for being part of ‘Summer of Sam’, ‘Don’t Say a Word’, ‘Welcome to Collinwood’, among others, recalls getting multiple requests to try out for ‘The Sopranos’. She always said no. “I chose to not go up for it when they would call me in because it was like, ‘I can’t relive this,'” Esposito recalls. “The only thing that used to make me crazy about the show when I did watch it was the character of Meadow because she was very nice. The girls I grew up around wanted to kill me, wanted to kill me every day. So it was PTSD,” Variety reported.
On Staten Island, Esposito was raised amidst organised crime. The 50-year-old actor, whose work includes the Oscar-winning ‘Crash’ and television’s ‘Spin City’ and ‘Blue Bloods,’ claims that Staten Island is still the same place that it was when she left at the age of 18. “It’s still the same place. You need to understand that nothing leaves this island. It’s a very strange time warp of a place.”
As per Variety, but now art imitates life for Esposito. She makes her writing and directorial debut with ‘Fresh Kills’, an indie drama set in the late 1980s and early 1990s about two sisters (Odessa A’zion and Emily Bader) whose mother (Esposito) tries to hold the family together when the girls’ mafia boss father (Domenick Lombardozzi) goes to prison. It’s a script that had been “percolating and marinating” since Esposito was 16, she says.
“And then I just got so frustrated with where my career had gone and where it was supposed to go — the way I feel it should have — and I thought, ‘Instead of complaining about the stuff that you’re not getting and not seeing, I can’t complain anymore,'” she says. “It was like you’re either quitting or you’re going to do something about it. I would say, without being dramatic, ‘I don’t think I’d be able to die unless I do this.’ It was something that needed to be done.” ‘Fresh Kills’ premieres during Tribeca Film Festival on June 16.
The process of making the film has been therapeutic. Esposito claims she spent a large portion of her life battling unexplained wrath. “I had partners who would always tell me, ‘You’re so angry,'” she claims. “I would say, ‘I’m not angry. But I was. There was anger and rage.”
She makes reference to the violence and dread that plagued her upbringing, feelings that are acted out in a specific scene in the film when the sisters engage in a brutal brawl with a few other neighborhood girls after they disrespect their dad. The brutal battle leaves victims with bloodied faces from being struck with shattered bottles and slammed against brick and concrete walls.
“I don’t think people understand unless you lived it. That’s what I saw. And they were in their Catholic school uniforms, and they’d pull a girl on a table in a diner and beat the hell out of her till her face is off,” Esposito says. “It’s that kind of stuff. I wanted to capture that. It’s unleashing a rage that they can’t acknowledge where it’s coming from, because as soon as you touch that button of the father, it’s a match — don’t touch it.”
According to Variety, she understands now that ‘The Sopranos’ was only depicting a slice of Italian-American life. “They wanted me to come in a few times for certain things, and I was like, ‘No. The way you’re portraying Italian culture? Oh, get over yourself. Really?'” Esposito says. “It was an amazing show. But you’re a kid. You don’t see that. Of course, I look back, and it’s like, ‘That was stupid.'”
Nevertheless, this encouraged Esposito to pursue her career as a director, a choice she knew was ideal for her the minute she first yelled, “Action!” “I could cry now. It was nerve-wracking and beautiful, but I knew I was right where I was supposed to be,” Esposito says. “I have to say, I feel so at home in this position. I don’t even care if I’m ever in front of the camera again. This? Every angle is me. Every piece of clothing, every lighting, every music cue, every sound is me. This movie is my heart.”
She is eagerly anticipating the premiere party. Rainbow cookies and zeppolis, fried donut balls that are a speciality of New York Italian bakeries and street fairs, are two items she hopes are on the menu. Esposito adds, “I want the party to smell like Aqua Net and zeppolis.”
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