One thing everyone could agree on at Sept. 10′s world premiere of Relativity’s mob comedy “The Family”: No one at Gotham’s Lincoln Square could single out just one of Robert De Niro’s many tough guys as their favorite.
“Honestly it’s too much,” said writer-director Luc Besson as he rattled off a list. “’Taxi Driver,’ ‘Raging Bull,’ ‘Mean Streets,’ ‘Godfather.’”
“It’s ‘Casino.’ I love the three-hour arc and the way the characters pull in different directions throughout the whole film. And ‘Goodfellas.’ What else do you have to say, it’s ‘Goodfellas,’” said 18-year-old John D’Leo who plays De Niro’s loan-sharking son, adding, “It was amazing, I became the ultimate bad ass.”
“For me, my two De Niro favorites are ‘Taxi Driver’ and ‘The Deer Hunter,’ although they’re vastly different,” said Dianna Agron, who plays De Niro’s murderously violent daughter. This film was a departure from her times at “Glee.” “I’ve never really gotten to show the anger I do in this. Interestingly enough because I grew up studying dance, fight choreography is similar to learning a dance so it’s really easy for me. This is the second time I’ve done stunt work in a film and because I’m blonde and in a dress they think I’m not going to be good at this and it makes me kind of proud that I am.
Playing a mob wife led Michelle Pfeiffer to examine violence and comedy. The way “Family” mines laughs from violence, she said, “is because it’s one of those things where the violence is over the top. I saw ‘Matilda’ here (on Broadway) where there are some very dark themes in that play and there were children in the audience and I was kind of worried. But because it’s done in such a broad ridiculous way it becomes funny, humorous and only a tiny bit frightening.”
That’s true for “Family,” Pfeiffer said, calling it, “Very unusual, edgy and quirky.”
Pfeiffer’s spouse David E. Kelley laughed at being married to the mob, at least for one movie night, but allowed that his wife is drawn to the dark side.
“She made an exception when she married me. I’m afraid of criminals, I tend to avoid them.”
De Niro’s bad guys were iconic, but Kelley preferred the good guys. “There were a lot of influential people in television shows but they weren’t the gangsters, they were on the right side of the law. Hence I wrote about lawyers,” he said. “Perry Mason would have been first for me.”
Following the screening, the party continued at the Plaza Hotel’s Oak Room.