[AlKHallism: Clicking on the pictures will take you to Nellie Sciutto's IMDB page. Her website, nelliesciutto.com, is still under construction, but hopefully she'll let me know when it's up and running so i can pass the info on to you guys. Should any professional stumble into The Bar None and want to reach her, leave me a comment below and i'll shoot your contact info on to her, k?]
From the juiced-box and the soundtrack of Shutter Island: Dinah Washington with Max Richter – This Bitter Earth
Y’all know about the Silken Butterflies. “Silken Butterflies” is the appellation i coined for those talented women that fly across the silver screen, whose images are as fleeting as they are beautiful. One of my biggest pleasures in the Booze Revooze is uncovering these young starlettes, presenting them to you my patronizers in The Bar None and, when i catch a break, interviewing them.
Nellie Sciutto is exceptional in a couple ways to this rule. Sure, she’s beautiful and talented but her role in Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island cannot be called fleeting and the fact that this is her fourth Scorsese project, in addition to a whole slew of other work, means this young lady is a star who shot passed “up and coming” ages ago.
So it was with great humility and gratitude that i accepted her first class, round-trip ticket from Yeman to St Tropez on the French Riveria, where i met her on her yacht to sip mojitos and talk about her fabulous career.
Al K Hall: Nellie! Nice boat! [i sit down in this comfortable chaise longue next to the gorgeous Nellie Sciutto wearing a sun yellow bikini and a diaphanous white blouse with draw string undone.]This is great. Really. It’s like “Wow Nellie”, you know? i’d say “Wow Nellie” with your last name, but i have no idea how to pronounce it.
Nellie Sciutto: It’s pronounced “shoot-oh”. Like prosciuto. And it means dry.
Al K Hall: As in white wine? Cool!
Nellie: As in dried meat for prosciuto.
Al K Hall: Oh.
Nellie: Not the most romantic meaning… But my brother, who is an ABC newscaster, was just in Italy for work and he found out that in the vernacular, it means “skinny”. I like that better.
Al K Hall: And it suits you! So, the Côte d’Azur, France, Europe… Are these your usual stomping grounds?
Nellie: I was raised in New York. On Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Actually, I wrote and performed a one-woman show that I sold to HBO called Denying Park Avenue and it was about growing up in that area. I moved to LA 12 years ago and have lived in Laurel Canyon ever since. Initially, I lived with a friend I met while in school in Paris. He’s an architect and he’s the one who introduced me to this area. My husband and I bought a house there right before we got married 8 years ago.
Al K Hall: You’re married? Dammit!
Nellie: Yes, I am married. [She smiles a smile that makes the sun pale.] Have been for 8 years and we have a beautiful, charming little boy.
Al K Hall: Sweet! Speaking of sweet, i’m gonna need another one of these. [i shake my empty mojito glass and the rattling ice cubes bring this prim yacht servant in a trim white uniform who runs off to fetch me another drink.] What about you? You got any vices?
Nellie: Laughter. You’ve got to be able to laugh at yourself and find humor in even the most difficult times.
Al K Hall: Words to live by! i’ll drink to that. ‘Course i’ll drink to just about anything. But enough about my problems, let’s talk about you and Shutter Island. How did you get the part of Nurse Marino?
Nellie: It’s my third Martin Scorsese/DiCaprio project and my fourth time working with Martin Scorsese. I met Mr. Scorsese after he saw my one woman show on tape. We’ve had a wonderful working relationship since then and I am so grateful for that.
Al K Hall: So, how do prepare for a role as intense as Nurse Marino?
Nellie: The director had us speak with experts, which was nice, and watch certain films to prepare. And we had some rehearsals. I always prepare for a role. I like to make choices that are interesting.
Al K Hall: What kind of movies did they suggest?
Nellie: I was asked to watch Titicut Follies, a documentary about a mental hospital in Connecticut. It was very interesting and gave me a lot of insight into the ideas behind the film.
Al K Hall: How long was the shoot?
Nellie: The shoot was nearly 5 months long in total, including rehearsals. I wasn’t in the Boston area for all 5 months but was there for most of February, March and April, a bit of May and some of June . We shot all of the hospital scenes in Medfield Hospital in Medfield, Massachusetts. We stayed in Boston proper and were driven there each morning. It was a beautifully designed set that used the actual campus and buildings of the Medfield State Hospital with some structures added in to give it a very eerie feel. Like the entrance to the hospital grounds. That entrance was built by the set designers, and the catwalk that the guards walked on was built as well.
Al K Hall: Was the shoot as freaky on the set as it looked on the screen? More importantly, did the caterer supply any booze?
Nellie: Wow. Good question. Booze would’ve been nice since the set and the extras and the actors, all of us together, did make for a freaky ambiance.
[From the juiced-box and, believe it or not, the kind of music Nellie gets into: Jamie Foxx (feat. T-Pain) - Blame It On The Alcohol]
Al K Hall: This is your fourth project with Scorsese, how did you first get the role as a secretary in The Aviator?
Nellie: As I was saying, I got the role because Mr. Scorsese watched my one woman show, we met, and he took an interest in my career. I was lucky.
Al K Hall: Yeah, lucky like a talented fox. Did he call you himself to offer you the part of Queenan’s Secretary in The Departed?
Nellie: No. Ellen Lewis, the casting person, called me to tell me. She’s wonderful to work with when auditioning. A real professional.
Al K Hall: Everyone knows Scorsese is nervous; is he as nervous when he’s directing? Is there anything about him, other than his freakish eyebrows, that bugs you?
Nellie: Yikes. NO! [She's so cute when she's shocked.] Nothing about him bugs me. He’s not a nervous person at all. He’s full of energy and talks fast.
Al K Hall: What do you think it is that makes him such a great director?
Nellie: What I appreciate about him as a director is his vast knowledge and creativity. He has this uncanny ability to see the whole picture and to create an atmosphere of true creativity on a film. And I love that he continues to reinvent himself at all times. That’s what I admire most.
Al K Hall: Be honest, though, don’t his eyebrows scare you a little sometimes?
Nellie: They’re his trademark. They’re original.
Al K Hall: Yeah, that’s what people say about my technicolor burps… Back to Marty—wait, you do call him “Marty”, don’t you? Tell me what you really think of him.
Nellie: I do call him “Marty”. I don’t know if I ever asked him if that was okay, but I tend to be very open with people and that’s always been my approach. To me, he’s an amazing director. A true artist. But he’s also a very funny person.
Al K Hall: OK, now i’m getting jealous. Enough about Marty. You’ve done a lot of other work in the cinema and on TV—for example a recent role in Entourage—but the most intriguing was “Woman screaming” in The Key To Reserva. What did you use for motivation for the scream?
Nellie: Oh I’m good at letting out a scream. Even in real life.
Al K Hall: And here i was sure it was Marty’s eyebrows. Just kidding! Moving right along, what can you tell us about your next movie, Bluegrass Run?
Nellie: We’re in rewrites right now. I’m really looking forward to shooting this film. It’s a film about love and life’s struggles in the horse racing world in Kentucky. My role is a saucy best friend.
Al K Hall: Ooh, saucy. Anything else in the works i should know about?
Nellie: I always have about 10 irons in the fire at a given point. That’s how you continue to work in this business: by coming up with your own ideas and tapping the right people to compliment your own ideas.
Al K Hall: So tell about some of your irons…
Nellie: I love writing. I’m always writing; I’ve written several TV shows and screenplays. I like to have my hands in all areas of my business because they inform one another. For example, I directed a movie called Fixing Rhonda and there’s also Haunted Echoes in which I play a very annoying real estate agent. It’s being released today on DVD. It isn’t a big role, but it’s the kind of character that I like to play. A little….nutty.
Al K Hall: So what’s your ultimate goal as an actress?
Nellie: My ultimate goal is the same as it always has been: to be a good and reliable character actor who continues to reinvent myself.
Al K Hall: About that… The Bar None recently held the bArCADEMY AwkWARDS, or the Alkies, for outstanding alcoholic achievement in a motion picture. Have you ever played a drunk woman? Would you recommend to young actors that they actually get drunk for a role that required being drunk?
Nellie: I directed and starred in Fixing Rhonda. In it, I play a drug addict and as an actor, one does not have to be under the influence to play wasted. I have played drunk as well. Of course, sense memory does come into play so you do draw from your own experiences.
Al K Hall: Hell, you’re lucky your senses remember it! Here’s to sense memory and experience building. [After we toast, i finish my mojito and wave the barboy over to get me another.] What would you like to say to your many fans?
Nellie: I would like to thank all of my fans (assuming I have some!) for just taking an interest in my work and in who I am. [Another flash of that sweet smile.]
Al K Hall: Babe! i’m sure you have tons of fans! i’m here, aren’t i?
[Another musical interlude... From the juiced-box and Nellie's playlist: CunninLynguists - Beautiful Girl]
Al K Hall: Time for the requisite Bar None Questionnaire, where the answers are like i.d.’s: if you don’t have a good one, you have to fake it. What’s your favorite alcoholic drink?
Nellie: Red wine.
Al K Hall: When was the last time you had a hangover?
Nellie: A few years ago. Not something I enjoy, but I guess we pay for all the fun!
Al K Hall: You said it, babe. Just be glad your bill isn’t as ‘high’ as mine! Do you smoke?
Nellie: I’ve never been a smoker. I’m sounding really boring, aren’t I?
Al K Hall: No way! Miss Demeanor doesn’t smoke and she’s the most exciting woman ever. Present company excluded, of course… What’s your favorite swear word?
Nellie: The ‘F’ word just does wonders when expressing anger or frustration. As long as you don’t do it so often that it loses its bite.
Al K Hall: Finally, what’s your favorite thing about me, Al K Hall?
Nellie: My favorite thing about you? Hmmm. You’re a good interviewer… I think we need to go out and get loaded so that I can really get to know you. Next time I’m in Yeman I’ll take you and your fiancée out. Promise.
Al K Hall: And i’ll hold you to that!
Of course, Nellie and i never really met. Goes without saying, i know, but here i am sayin’ it anyway. She (pro’lly) doesn’t have a yacht anchored off St Tropez and she sent me no tickets: the whole interview was conducted through e-mail. i added a lot of stuff to make transitions smoother and make it seem like we’d met face to face, but i didn’t change any of her answers. Again, i’ve never had the pleasure of actually meeting her; though i’m hoping to meet her (and her entourage) should they ever breeze through Yeman.
i would like to thank her so much for opening up to me, for taking the time to answer all my questions and for putting up with all my insanity. She’s been a true pleasure to work with, professional and charming, and i’m sure these attributes (in addition to her amazing gifts for writing, acting and directing) will mean that we’ll be seeing more of her in the future. i’m just hoping she remembers all of us little people back at The Bar None when we see her on our nicotine stained TV screen winning an Oscar.
Finally, and ’cause i’m sure Martin Scorsese is going to read this at one point in my life, i’d like to officially go on record (and my knees in an “i’m not worthy” pose of veneration) and apologize for the easy shots i took at him. Hell, i’m a drinker and easy shots are hard to turn down. No real disrespect was ever intended.
If y’all are interested in the other The Booze Talkin’: Exclusive Interviews, just click on the link.