TCS’s Evening with De Niro and Pfeiffer: Behind the Scenes of The Family

Osaseri Guobadia 21 November 2013

Featuring Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer and Glee’s Dianna Agron (who were in London to promote the film), The Family, a dark comedy about a mob family placed in the Witness Protection Program in a tiny village in Normandy, France. TCS bring to you the best bits from the press conference.

What was your research process for this, since I’m guessing you couldn’t just call up the FBI and talk to some families in Witness Protection already?

Pfeiffer: We had the book as a reference which was really valuable. For me, I focused a bit more on family and personal life, which was obviously Maggie’s role in it, to protect her family at any cost.
De Niro: I had some experience before with Henry Hill doing Goodfellas, so every time I had a question, I would call, well, I’d get word to him that I needed to talk to him and he’d call me on set. And honestly, this story, it is what it is, it’s not about accuracy in the WPP, the fine details would be interesting, but I think there were a lot of details that were good as is. How’s that for an answer.
Agron: It’s a dark comedy and something that Luc does very well. Like Robert and Michelle said, it was on the page, it was with Luc’s direction. And I think that because it’s a little more fun, this isn’t a very serious in depth study of what it would be like, so it just gave us room to play.

When you’re shooting abroad do you have time to explore, see the local area and be a tourist?

Agron: I went to a livestock fair with Tommy Lee Jones, which is one of the most comical things that has ever happened to me in my life. One, because they don’t know who Tommy Lee Jones is in Normandy, so Tommy’s having the time of his life because he’s very much…
Pfeiffer: He’s a cowboy.
Agron: He’s a cowboy, yeah. So he’s in his element and Normandy is very untouched, you feel like you’re in the 80’s, people are walking round town as your filming peeking their heads out of windows. So yeah we’re checking out the livestock fair, there’s smoke plumes in the corner and huge tractors for sale, and the most enormous rabbits you’ve ever seen.
Pfeiffer: It’s so scary that stepping back in time for Dianna is the 80’s.

Would you say you learnt any lessons on set working with them that you’ll take with you through your career?

Agron: I would say that it’s very different now, only from observation. I think that these two people have made such wonderful choices with the characters that they’ve played in interesting movies. My learning experience was from watching them create a new character in front of me. As far as my career goes, I’m not afraid not to work, and I think that could be my greatest strength. I think that a lot of people want to work back to back to back for fear that it'll go away. I think that if I'm to honour what I've seen Michelle and Bob do, it’s to make smart choices and do things that you really believe in, because that when you have the most fun.


The Family is on wide general release on 22 November.