Marisa Tomei on ‘King of Staten Island’ and Why She Regrets Shifting to Mom Roles

     June 10, 2020

Marisa Tomei is a major fan favorite right now in the MCU playing Peter Parker’s (Tom  Holland) mother figure, Aunt May, and now she absolutely runs away with the role of Scott’s (Pete Davidson) mother in the new Judd Apatow movie, The King of Staten Island. Her character, Margie Carlin, is in a tough position. She lost her husband when Scott was just seven-years-old, and he’s still having a very tough time putting himself back together. He’s got dreams of becoming a tattoo artist, but can’t seem to get anywhere close to making that a reality and instead, is pretty content with living at home and hanging out with his friends whenever he pleases. At what point does Margie need to lay down the law and insist that Scott make a life for himself?

It’s a difficult position for a loving mother who deeply wants to be there for her son, and the movie doesn’t shy away from tackling the complexities of that situation. Scott’s got a number of relationships in the movie that really make a mark, but the mother-son dynamic is one of the best of the bunch thanks to the chemistry between Tomei and Davidson, and the nuance of Tomei’s performance. When I say Tomei makes the absolute most of this role (quite a few times) in this video interview, I mean it. 

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Image via Universal Pictures

But, of course, we all well know that when you excel at one type of role, Hollywood has a habit of boxing you into it, and that happens quite often with “the mom” role. While it certainly isn’t a hard and fast rule, once you start playing mothers on the big screen, there is this unspoken sense that you’ve moved on to that stage of your career. As someone who’s made a huge impression as Aunt May and delivers a phenomenal performance in The King of Staten Island, I asked Tomei if getting boxed into “mom” roles was ever a concern. Here’s what she said:

“I really regret starting down this road and I really regret starting to do that. I was, you know, talked into it – not this, but I mean just that change – and I really always felt like, ‘Oh, I could play a lot of things.’ Honestly, it’s probably more of a stretch than other things. [Laughs] But, it’s – yeah, I guess I said it all.” 

Admittedly, the blunt honesty here caught me off guard. From my limited perspective, Tomei is crushing it right now. She’s in one of the biggest film franchises out there and is busy celebrating the release of an excellent new film to add to her already extremely impressive body of work. I had also rolled into the question assuming that kind of typecasting just couldn’t be a thing anymore, and it’s disappointing to hear that’s not the case. Tomei continued:

“I think every actor and actress has a lot of dimensions to them and if the scope of what is being written and being made is narrow, and you want to keep working, you do what you can. I mean, I do. I tried it. It was maybe not the right road, but you know, I do try to make the most of it.” 

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Image via Sony Pictures

Again, while I was surprised by Tomei’s blunt honesty when discussing the topic, I also greatly appreciate it because how will things change otherwise? So with that in mind, I followed up by  asking Tomei what types of roles she’s eager to jump into that have yet to come her way. Here’s what she said:

“I mean, even genres that I would love to be in, you know? The femme fatale, and in a noir. I still think there are other aspects of even romantic comedies. I really love them, but you know really at a screwball level. There’s so many, many – the breadth of as much as women are, there’s so many roles.”

For more from Tomei on her experience working on The King of Staten Island, give the full video interview at the top of this article a watch. The movie arrives on VOD on June 12th. I highly recommend checking it out and if you need more convincing, be sure to read Matt’s review of the film right here.

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