Pete Davidson’s The King of Staten Island hits, well, your streaming devices later this week. It’s a far cry from the intended release of the SNL regular’s feature-length work with director Judd Apatow, which was supposed to premiere at SXSW and instead opted for an all-digital release in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Despite the major adjustments to its release, the film is still getting a lot of hype. It’s a passion project for Davidson in particular, as it’s loosely based on his life in the New York City borough. It’s also a movie where Davidson was able to bring a member of his own family into the world of Hollywood: his grandfather.
In an interview with the Daily News’ Ed Symkus, Apatow explained why Davidson’s grandfather, Stephen, appeared in the movie to give an impassioned speech. The director said he, not Davidson, wrote what he was going to say, but noted it was by far Davidson’s “happiest” day on set while filming a very personal movie.
Pete spent a lot of time with his grandfather, Stephen. And when Stephen was a kid, his dad ran a movie theater, way back in the day. Stephen loves movies, and he was the one who would watch movies with Pete when Pete was a very little kid. So, a lot of Pete’s love for cinema is from his grandfather. It’s very meaningful to Pete that his grandfather is in the movie. I think that was Pete’s happiest day on the set.
It’s a lovely touch to a film that, while not outright biographical, includes a lot of details from Davidson’s life. In many ways it’s a potential look at an alternate reality of what Davidson’s life could have been, and thankfully both realities include a cinephile grandfather.