John Turturro talks Woody Allen, 'Fading Gigolo,' Rosedale and more

John Turturro in "Fading Gigolo." John Turturro in "Fading Gigolo." Photo Credit: AP / JoJo Whilden

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Would John Turturro and Woody Allen make a great screen team? Only their hairdresser knew for sure.

"Woody and I share the same haircutter," says Turturro, who grew up in Rosedale. "Anthony, who cuts our hair said, 'You'd be great together.' Then one day it hit me, and I said, wow, it would be interesting to see if together as a duo we could have good chemistry together."

Now audiences can find out as their new movie "Fading Gigolo," in which Allen plays the owner of a failing bookstore who pimps out his Don Juan pal (Turturro), opens on Long Island. Turturro, 57, who also wrote and directed the movie, will be on hand for a sold-out screening at Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington Friday. He shared some back stories on the making of the movie.

How did you come up with the idea for "Fading Gigolo"?

A friend of mine was losing his bookstore, and he's Woody's age and he's got a young girlfriend and all these kids he takes care of. I thought, what's going to happen to them. And then I thought, what if he reinvented himself and got into the sex business? Woody loved that idea. . . . I didn't want to explore the really sordid side of it. I'm using it as a metaphor for people's need for human contact.

How much input did Woody have in the script?

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I would write it and Woody would give me his feedback. Originally he thought it was too broad and too bawdy, and he was right. He would say, there are some delicate things in the script, why don't you do more research and develop those things, because I would rather be involved with something more sophisticated, and so would I.

Woody rarely acts in movies other than his own. How was he to direct?

He was the easiest actor to work with. He came prepared, he was on time. I asked him to improvise, because he likes to go off the script sometimes, and he always comes up with something interesting.

As you were writing the screenplay, were you concerned if people would believe you playing this great lover?

In Woody's movies when he was younger, he was a romantic lead, and people bought it. Each one of us has sexuality in our lives. In the movie, my character does say, "I'm not a beautiful man. I'm too old," but Woody's character says "you've been successful with women." And I'm very comfortable with women, and I haven't been unsuccessful with women. It's like when Woody's character says, "Look at Mick Jagger, people think he's sexy." He's a rock and roller and he's famous obviously, but I liked that idea of it.

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I was also impressed with your dancing skills in the movie.

I'm one of the world's greatest dancers -- in my fantasies. I studied dancing and I've danced in a lot of movies if you think about it, from "O, Brother Where Art Thou," to "The Luzhin Defence." When I was younger if you wanted to date a girl, you'd go dancing. I enjoy dancing. And none of those dances in the movie were choreographed. We'd put the music on, and when we started we said let's see what happens. I do think that's revealing when people dance. ... I wonder what the first dances were around the fire.

What was the most challenging scene for you to shoot?

We didn't have eight weeks to shoot. We had six weeks plus a couple of second-unit days. The schedule was always daunting. I wish we had more time for the ménage] scene involving Sofia [Vergara], Sharon Stone] and me. We tried to find a way to do it to leave something to the imagination, too, so that it wouldn't be pornographic.

That does seem like it had to be tricky making this movie to try and do it without it coming across as smarmy or sordid.

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There is a tone that eventually emerged. Woody encouraged me. He said there's nothing wrong with implying things. He didn't say that exactly, but eventually I wound up implying things. I shot a little more for the movie and then decided I didn't really need it. ... I never thought the guy I play as a smarmy guy. He doesn't even see himself in that position. Woody sees that he's a confident guy, but not a cocky guy, and the difference between that is huge. A cocky guy just thinks, 'I'm going to do it.' A confident person, who's also aware of the other person and is a good listener, understands where they are at that moment. I thought making the guy a gentleman would help.

Earlier you mentioned that you shot more than you needed for the movie. What did you leave out?

I explained my character's background a little bit more, like how his dad left his mom. But you didn't need it. The guy's obviously had relationships with women, he's good with women, he was close to his mother. He says my mom never got the breaks in life. Something obviously happened, but I preferred to keep it more private.

There was also a nice scene between me and Sharon where we're lying in bed and talking about how sex and being naked is the great equalizer, and Sharon was wonderful in it. It just seemed to slow the movie down too much.

You and I have something in common. We both grew up in Rosedale.

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Really! ... For years I never met anyone from Rosedale, and lately I've been meeting a lot. We moved there from Hollis when I was about 6. My father built houses on the south side of Sunrise [Highway]. I visited there a lot when my mom was still alive. Up until she died in 2005 she still lived there. I shot "Romance and Cigarettes" there. I want to go back, but it's been hard for me since she died.

What other projects do you have coming up?

I have a couple of movies coming out. I did a film for Nanni Moretti ["Mia Madre] that's in Italian. I'm in "Exodus" and I'm in "God's Pocket" with Philip Seymour Hoffman. I hope to direct another movie, or at least set it up, by the end of this year.

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