Michelle Pfeiffer and Robert De Niro can’t break their Mob habits in Luc Besson’s black comedy ‘The Family.’
Twenty-five years after Michelle Pfeiffer rocked a heavy Long Island accent in 1988’s Married to the Mob, she’s back in the world of organized crime.
“They keep pulling me back in,” Pfeiffer says of her role in the Luc Besson-directed film The Family (out Sept. 20). “There’s something about that world that fascinates me.”
She’s in very good company. Pfeiffer plays a longtime mob wife alongside Robert De Niro, the actor who has played mobsters in everything from The Godfather: Part II to Goodfellas and Analyze This.
Besson compared notes with Tonino Benacquista, who wrote the novel Malavita from which the screenplay is taken, before casting the movie.
“Tonino said it would be so perfect if Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer played the roles,” says Besson. “It was like a dream.”
Besson say the script was an offer even De Niro couldn’t refuse, and the pair quickly jumped into the black comedy. Pfeiffer was especially excited since she has never worked alongside De Niro, even though they have been in different scenes from two recent movies, 2007’s Stardustand 2011’s New Year’s Eve.
“This was a third opportunity to do a film with him and to actually act with him,” says Pfeiffer. “I didn’t want to pass that up. And in this, he’s terrifying and very funny at the same time.”
After ratting out their Mob family, Fred and Maggie Manzoni try to maintain their biological family in the witness protection program. But they’re assigned to live in Normandy, France, and it doesn’t sit well with them. The Brooklynites have trouble with the locals and revert to Mob tactics.
“They have trouble breaking old habits,” says Pfeiffer. “The entire family, including the children, have anger-management issues. The apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree in this case.”
For example, Fred has issues with the local plumber. “If he meets the plumber and the plumber tries to fool with him, then that guy will die,” says Besson. “The whole family is like that. If you contradict them you are in trouble.”
Meanwhile, when Pfeiffer has a run-in with a wife at the grocery story, she burns down her house. The grown son (John D’Leo) and daughter (Dianna Agron) are even worse with the local kids. Even the family dog, Malavita, is “a hard-ass,” says Besson.
Pfeiffer says she had to stop herself from going back to her famous Married to the Mob character, which earned her a Golden Globe nomination.
“I didn’t want Angela de Marco showing up like, ‘Here she is 20 years later.’ ” says Pfeiffer. “I guess there is going to be some crossover. That’s unavoidable.”
Pfeiffer believes Maggie is an alternative reality for de Marco, who tried to break with her husband’s Mob connections.
“If Angela had stayed married to her husband then maybe this could have been her,” she says. “Angela was a lot younger and a lot sweeter and was fighting to get out of the Mob life. For Maggie, this is her life.”
Tommy Lee Jones stars as the FBI agent assigned to keep the family in line and safe from enemies seeking retaliation. The movie also features the input of Goodfellas director Martin Scorsese, who came on board as an executive producer. In Besson’s view, seeing Scorsese laugh while watching the film was the greatest endorsement of all.
“It helps me a lot because it almost gives you an authorization from the sky, from God,” says Besson. “If he thinks it’s correct and funny and great, then I am in pretty good shape.”
Source: USA Today