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John Turturro interview – 'I had a threesome back in the 70s. I was young. It was awkward'
By SP_COP on May 19, 2014 | From www.theguardian.com
John Turturro is much less tortured than I was expecting. One doesn't like to get performers too mixed up with their roles, but I can't get the image of him as Barton Fink, the tortured playwright caught in a long dark night of the soul in the Coen brothers' Palme d'Or-winning comedy of 1991, out of my head. Of all the Coens' patsies, Turturro played put-upon best, and in roles for Spike Lee and Robert Redford he seemed to specialise in the kind of guys – embattled, tightly wound, thin-skinned – who draw injury from the universe like lightning. That high-rise 'fro seemed frazzled with bad karma.

The curls are speckled with salt and pepper, these days. A wiry 57, he arrives for lunch at Bar Pitti on Sixth Avenue, New York City, looking debonair in a cashmere Canali sports jacket. Posing for a photo with a fan on the way in, he is guided to a corner table of the restaurant by its owners, who greet him on first-name terms. "If I come here I know what I can get with the kind of cooking it is," he says as a waiter arrives bearing a blackboard of specials. Turturro likes his neighborhood joints. He gets his coffee from the same Puerto Rican coffee house on Park Slope, Brooklyn, every morning, and gives money to his favourite downtown cinema, Film Forum.

He's a little nervous: his latest movie, Fading Gigolo, which he wrote, directed and stars in, has just added 100 cinemas to its release in the US. "I was on the phone all day yesterday saying, 'That's too much,'" he says. "But all the theatres want it. People are enjoying the movie so much. I'll have the plate of asparagus please."

Turturro plays a middle-aged Brooklyn florist who is pressed into service as a gigolo by his friend, a bookseller played by Woody Allen. You read that right: Woody Allen is John Turturro's pimp. The two find a wonderful comic rhythm together, with Allen mounting one of his speediest displays of shtick in years – arm waving, stammering, eyebrows a-pogo – while Turturro plays it straight, his character a zen-master sensualist, bringing his healing powers to the lives of the women he touches: Vanessa Paradis, Sharon Stone, Sofía Vergara. Maybe it's his Italian side – his family are originally from Sicily and in 2010 he made a terrific documentary about the music of Naples – but Turturro turns out to be an unexpected cheerleader for abbondanza and passione.

"Everybody has their own individual sexuality, sensuality," he says. "There are people like Jeanne Moreau or Judi Dench who have this fascinating sexuality to them. They are not beauties, really, but sometimes people who are really beautiful do not actually have that much sexuality. I am not saying I do, by the way. The title of this film could have been Not Too Pretty, easily. I'm just saying that sometimes they are so used to receiving attention and not giving it or listening or holding it. I do not see a lot of movies that have sensuality. I can go to a Wes Anderson film and appreciate it, but it is completely sexless."

Has he ever been in a threesome? It's not the sort of question one asks movie stars usually, but talking about one of the scenes in the film, a faltering encounter between him, Stone and Vergara, he sounds so knowledgeable that it just sort of pops out. "Once, back in the 70s," he replies, matter-of-factly. "I was a certain age in the 70s, people were trying all kinds of stuff, it was before Aids. I was younger. It was awkward. People do that, they say, 'Let's have a threesome,' and your brain is going 'yeah yeah', and then they go, 'Dude, this is a *** disaster… This is not what I thought it was going to be.' People get jealous, this and that."...
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