Pete Davidson is the well-known 26-year-old comedian whose work on television’s Saturday Night Live has given him a high profile and whose brief engagement to singer Ariana Grande gave him as even higher profile. His dedicated young fan-base love him for his use and advocacy of marijuana and the way he takes his real-life mental health challenges and dysfunction as the subject of his comedy. The fact that his father was firefighter who died at the World Trade Centre during 9/11 has often been part of his confessional style of stand-up.
This and other elements of Davidson’s actual life story have been woven into KING OF STATEN ISLAND the new movie directed by comedy godfather Judd Apatow. Apatow has a knack for collaborating with certain comedians and bringing out the best in them, as he did with Amy Schumer in TRAINWRECK.
Apatow wrote the screenplay with Davidson and Dave Sirius. The story is as follows: Scott (Davidson) has been a case of arrested development ever since his firefighter father died when he was seven. He’s now reached his mid-20s having achieved little, chasing a dream of becoming a tattoo artist that seems far out of reach. Scott is still living with his exhausted ER nurse mother (Marisa Tomei) and spends his days smoking weed, hanging with the guys—Oscar (Ricky Velez), Igor (Moises Arias) and Richie (Lou Wilson)—and secretly hooking up with his childhood friend Kelsey (Bel Powley). But when his mother starts dating a loudmouth firefighter named Ray (Bill Burr), it sets off a chain of events that will force Scott to grapple with his grief and take his first tentative steps toward moving forward in life.
Judd Apatow has given Davidson an opportunity to branch out beyond his personalised stoner comedy by allowing him to dramatise certain aspects of the young man’s life. But it is fictional. Apatow describes it as a version of what Davidson’s life might have been had he not found comedy. The development of the movie seems to hook in with numerous public pronouncements that Davidson has made about changing direction professionally and his life generally. He calls the film a love-letter to his mother and an attempt to bring closure to the experience of losing his father.
THE KING OF STATEN ISLAND will be available on demand for June 12 in the US and will be in cinemas in Australia (dates to be announced).