Sebastian Maniscalco Says Italian Americans Are Like Dolphins

Sebastian Maniscalco Says Italian Americans Are Like Dolphins

Here’s a fun fact – a Bottlenose Dolphin can hold its breath for up to twenty minutes, which is the same amount of time Sebastian Maniscalco can go without reminding someone that he’s Italian.

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Maniscalco’s screenwriting debut, the culture-clash comedy About My Father co-starring Robert De Niro, is slated to premiere this Friday. The semi-autobiographical script tells the story of Maniscalco meeting his soon-to-be-wife’s WASP-y, wealthy family while stressfully introducing his Italian immigrant father (De Niro) to his in-laws’ unusual dynamic. Drenched in green, white and red, the trailer promises an unending stream of hand gestures, vaguely ethnic slang and pasta jokes loosely based on Maniscalco’s own experience marrying a wife who had “come from a better cut of cloth” and managing his father’s Italian-American idiosyncrasies. 

Speaking to the Crew Call podcast, Maniscalco explained how it was necessary for the creative team of About My Father, including co-writer Austen Earl and director Laura Terruso, to understand the nuances of his family life on a personal level. Maniscalco said that Terruso won the job, in part, because they are both Italian-Americans. Maniscalco said of his and Terruso’s connection, “We’re like dolphins, we have a secret language Italians speak. I knew I would have a shorthand with her.” This may be baseless speculation since I don’t know Maniscalco’s secrets, but I think that language might be Italian.

Also on the podcast, Terruso explained her approach in bringing Maniscalco’s stage presence to the big screen, saying, “This is one of the greatest physical comedians in the world, so wide (shots) are really important because you want to capture that physicality.” Much like dolphins, Maniscalco’s constant, fluid motion is an integral part of his allure, beyond the usual emotive gestures of an Italian-American. 

When asked if his time working with De Niro on The Irishman helped Maniscalco land the movie’s biggest name, the comic denied it, saying, “Yeah, I did The Irishman with him, it’s not like we bonded over cannolis on set.” Maniscalco says that the script was what sold the two-time Oscar winner – besides, if he really wanted to win his Italian co-star over with food, he would have brought a bucket of fish to set.

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