Articles: Director John Turturro Explores Prostitution in ‘Fading Gigolo’




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By Samantha Ofole-Prince
Photos courtesy of Millennium Entertainment

John Fioravante

John Turturro admits he has a fascination with prostitution. “It’s a profession, and like any profession, there are people who do it well,” says Turturro who explores the topic in his film “Fading Gigolo.”

Starring Turturro, Woody Allen, Sharon Stone, Vanessa Paradis, Liev Schreiber and Sofia Vergara, the film follows an ageing florist who joins the world’s oldest profession, and ends up finding something he didn’t know he was looking for.
“I have a lot of women close friends and I liked the idea of a guy who is a physical person and an unambitious person, which you don’t’ see in movies, but he is also a very competent person. I thought it could be interesting to explore his relationships with women,” shares the actor/director.

John Turturro and Woody Allen

In “Fading Gigolo,” Turturro plays a character called Fioravante — a modest middle aged man who leads an unambitious life working in a New York City floral shop. Down on his luck, he’s convinced by his best buddy Murray (Allen) to utilize his charm and looks and ends up becoming a high-end male prostitute.
“Fioravente’s appeal doesn’t just emanate from his looks but rather from his extraordinary gift for understanding women and his ability to hold their attention,” Turturro states.  “Fioravante’s willing to listen to them, to be a human being with them, and to be very tender with them.”

A charming comedy also written by Turturro, Sharon Stone plays a client who hires him for a ménage à trois with best pal Selima (Vergara).  Paradis plays Avigal, an Orthodox Chasidic widow and one of Fioravante’s reluctant clients while Schreiber rounds off the cast as a Chasidic man who is in love with Avigal.
“Sex is a big part of life. It’s a longing that people have, even those who are in relationships. I don’t think that longing ever ends and that desire is what has made people seek out prostitutes throughout time,” adds Turturro, who has starred in several Spike Lee films from “Do the Right Thing,” Girl 6,”  “Jungle Fever,” “Clockers” to “Mo’ Better Blues.”

John Turturro in Fading Gigolot

For Turturro who has performed in over 60 films, the idea for the movie first surfaced in a playful improvisation he did for a friend’s amusement over lunch. It was only afterwards that he started to think the concept might be something worth exploring further. He talked it over with a few friends, including his barber, who mentioned it to another of his customers who happened to be Woody Allen. Allen loved the idea so much he, in turn, reached out to John.

“He was very generous with his time,” shares Turturro, “but he was also merciless, and if someone like Woody Allen takes the time to do that, I felt that there must be something there. I think Woody encouraged me in his own way to go deep, and by the end, I wound up with much more of a nuanced film than a silly comedy.”

Rated R for some sexual content, language and brief nudity “Fading Gigolo” is out in selected theaters.

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