The shooting of Steve Buscemi’s indie feature, ‘The Grand Duke,’ is set to begin in January 2024 in Upstate New York. Produced by Grayshack Films, the movie revolves around Nick, a 50-year-old professor at New York University who hopes to make a low-budget film. Suddenly, because of family troubles, he has to rush back home to his weed-smoking, 90-year-old mother. When she learns about his film, she organizes a family reunion to secure a financier among their supposedly wealthy relatives. A part of the narrative is told through flashbacks and psychedelic trips, offering us “a chaotic ride through family ties, 19th century Russia, and legendary parrots.”
Besides Nick and his nonagenarian mother, the film’s eccentric but lovable characters include Nick’s 16-year-old daughter, Lana; Nick’s supportive wife; his mother’s 40-year-old boyfriend; and their wild and presumably rich relatives. A Casting call previously went out in search of suitable actors for four roles. Nick’s Russian relative, Svetlana, is a “squat, quiet, and diminutive woman with a clubfoot” of 35-40 years of age. She is a resident of the Brighton Beach neighborhood in New York City, New York.
Svetlana’s husband Isak is described as 40-60 years old; wiry; weathered; and presumably from wealth, with a building in New York on his name. His “ravaged appearance is more like that of a sixty-year-old drug-addicted ‘Popeye.’” He smokes cigarettes and has a “ragged smile filled with half-missing teeth and terrible breath.”
Svetlana and Isak’s daughter, Maria, is in her 20s. She is curvy and almost always has her pet “Pomeranian pressed into her armpit that matches the faux fur hood” on her tracksuit.” The casting call especially mentions that the character can sing, implying that it will likely play a part in the narrative. Nick’’s daughter, Lana, has “a nose piercing and the face of an angel.” The production team was looking for a biracial actor for the role but was open to other candidates. As the casting call expired in May 2023, we can assume that they have found their actors.
Originally from Brooklyn, New York, Buscemi is one of the most versatile actors of our time. He has appeared in films such as ‘Reservoir Dogs,’ ‘Desperado,’ ‘Big Fish,’ and ‘The Death of Stalin.’ He has collaborated with the Coen brothers in six projects to date: ‘Miller’s Crossing,’ ‘Barton Fink,’ ‘The Hudsucker Proxy,’ ‘Fargo,’ ‘The Big Lebowski,’ and ‘Paris, je t’aime.’ He won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Television Series – Drama in 2011 for the HBO crime-drama series ‘Boardwalk Empire,’ in which he portrays Enoch “Nucky” Thompson, a corrupt political figure and treasurer of Atlantic County. He also plays God and various other roles in TBS’ ‘Miracle Workers.’
Asked whether he liked to be in control on the set, Buscemi told The Talks, “I don’t worry about having control so much. I think as an actor when you go in, you are sort of giving up that control unless you’re directing the film yourself. And I guess I don’t have that much concern about it when I’m working with really good directors. Film is collaboration, and I think all of the really good directors surround themselves with the best people.”
In ‘The Grand Duke,’ Buscemi will work with a “world-renowned independent film pioneer.” The identity of the filmmaker is yet to be revealed. In the coming months, we can expect updates on it, along with plot and casting.
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