On Tuesday evening, Edward Burn’s screened his new film “The Fitzgerald Family Christmas.” Hosted by Tribeca Film and American Express the premiere was held at the Tribeca Grand Hotel. From the film: Edward Burns, Dara Coleman, Marsha Dietlein, Caitlin FitzGerald, Anita Gillette, Michael McGlone, Malachy McCourt, Daniella Pineda and John Solo all walked the red carpet.
Additional guests included Tribeca Film’s Jane Rosenthal and Geoff Gilmore, Christy Turlington, Gregg Bello, Pepper Binkley, Christian Campbell & America Olivo, Dennis Christopher, Sasha Cohen, Rachel Dratch, Halley Feiffer, Terry George, Evan Jonigkeit, Pat Kiernan, Louisa Krause, Jill Martin, Heather Matarazzo, Jennifer Missoni, Beth Ostrosky Stern, Phillip Spaeth, Aida Turturro, Brian Williams and Helene Yorke.
The movie is a drama about a working class, Irish-American family that is trying to come together for Christmas, while juggling their own personal problems and deciding whether or not to let their father come home after he left them 20 years ago. There are heavy topics in this movie, but there are also many moments of warmth and happiness. You’ll laugh, but “The Fitzgeral Family Christmas,“ might make you cry, too.
Before the screening, rootshed.com spoke with Edward Burns and some of the cast on the red carpet:
Q:What was it like working with Edward Burns?
John Solo: Once you work with him once, you realize how comfortable he makes the situation. And I also play softball with him. By the time Fitzgeralds came around, I was hanging out with a friend.
Anita Gillete: It was great…He’s one of those guys that you might not see or work with for a while, but it’s just like when you were.. family. And that’s what I feel like – as part of his family.
Q: Tell us about your role?
John Solo: I play Johnny Esposito. I’m a neighbor, in the neighborhood who is pretty much having an affair with one of the older sisters. And that’s my part. I have a lot of fun having an affair.
Marsha Dietlein: I play Dottie, who is one of the older siblings in the family and I’m sort of the slutty sister. She’s the fun one. But it was really great because so many of us already knew each other. We had already played siblings. I played Eddie’s sister before. I played Caitlin Fitzgerald’s sister before, so we all got along really well. There was a really nice camaraderie because we all knew each other. So that made it easy to slip into the family dynamic.
Q: What was your experience on set like?
Anita Gillete: My favorite story is…we shot it so fast it seemed to me. I mean, you do your own makeup, your own hair, your own wardrobe.You know and you go in and it’s exact “We gotta get this in the can today” and you do it. And the first day, after I knew he’d seen some of the dailies, I said “So Eddie, I just have a – I just want to know…” and he said, ”Yeah I know – how was your hair, right?” He said, “Every woman wants to know what their hair looked like.” And you know when I saw the film that’s what I looked for!
Marsha Dietlein: Sometimes we’ll throw each other off by ad-libbing in certain scenes or stuff like that. And I think, Eddie had to control the ad-libbing because we’re so used to going crazy on his set. He had to control it – you know there’s seven of us all trying to throw stuff in. Not so many pranks because we shoot on such a tight schedule and everyone is there and brings their A-game to get through shooting. But we had a great, great time. I mean I did a silly thing, but it’s kind of x-rated, so I’m not gonna say it!
Q: What’s the inspiration for this film? We heard “It’s a Wonderful Life,” but we also heard there’s some personal touches.
Edward Burns: I’ve always loved “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Loved the whole journey, and then, you know, had to sit there in front of my family trying to hold back the tears. And that was definitely the tone I had in mind when I was writing this screenplay. Yeah, I mean I also pulled some, some little moments from my life. Any of the big dramatic moments – things that you know your family saw on screen they would never talk to you again – that didn’t come from my life. So it was more the little things.
Q: This movie is a throwback to your earlier films. How so?
Edward Burns: It’s going back to sort of the world of my first couple of films. Part of it was I wanted to pull from that cast. The other thing is we shot on the same block, different house. We shot in the same church, the same train station. So, I just wanted it to be a little bit of a homecoming of sorts. What I did is I went through every film that I made, ten films, looked at the cast list and we said. “Alright, let’s cast at least one actor from every film.” So we can do the filmmaking family reunion, because this film is about a family reunion. So that was sort of the idea.
Q: Is this movie going to leave feel people feeling sad and depressed at the end? Will it make you cry?
Marsha Dietlein: I don’t know if it all works out. But I think what’s great about this film is there is some drama and there is some sadness. But I think the final moments are sort of beautiful, and kind of being thankful for what you have, and it’s kind of uplifting. It brings me to tears watching it, but they’re kind of bittersweet tears.
Edward Burns: It absolutely will. It won’t make you feel like sh*t. It is a tearjerker. It’s tears of joy. But it is, it will get ya.
Following the screening there was a Christmas-themed party with festively decorated Christmas trees, wreathes and even mistletoe. Baked by Melissa created a huge Christmas tree display out of cupcakes which were available for guests to snack on as well as take home.
“The Fitzgerald Family Christmas” premieres in theatres December 7th and is currently available on demand nationwide.
Additional reporting by Melisa Torres