Francesca Scorsese Was Born to Do It
The 21-year-one old on her new film with Luca Guadagnino, classes at NYU and finding yourself.
The 21-year-one old on her new film with Luca Guadagnino, classes at NYU and finding yourself.
Francesca Scorsese has had a whirlwind summer. Besides the expected summer activities of a twentysomething – basking in the sun, lounging by the pool and working on personal film projects – Scorsese also spent the past few months starring in Luca Guadagnino’s next feature, Bones & All, which happens to star everyone’s favorite love interest, Timothée Chalamet. While this may be the first time Scorsese has worked with Chalamet, it is not the first time she has joined forces with Guadagnino. In 2020, Scorsese played the confident – at times, feisty teen Britney, in Guadagnino’s coming-of-age drama, We Are Who We Are. It was here in the Veneto province of Italy while she was honing her acting skills that she was also actively learning how to direct. “I'd only ever really been on my dad's film sets,” Scorsese says from her apartment in New York City, speaking of her dad Martin Scorsese. “So it was really special to be able to see another incredible filmmaker pursue his passion and work.” She absorbed Guadagnino’s almost intrinsic ability to create a comfortable set environment while still pushing each actor’s creative abilities. And even a year out, she still finds ways to connect the experiences of the series to her daily life. Scorsese was recently featured in the latest Calvin Klein campaign, “The Language of Calvin Klein,” alongside Dominic Fike and Kaia Gerber. Seen in Calvin Klein’s trademark bralette and underwear, Scorsese felt empowered. “I feel like it almost paid an homage to my character in We Are Who We Are because she's so confident and doesn't care about what other people think of her,” Scorsese elaborates.
Now, after a whirlwind couple of months, she’s re-adjusting to the life of a full-time student. Currently, Scorsese is a senior at New York University where she studies filmmaking – a major she developed a passion for it early on. On Saturday nights, while she was still living with her family, you could find Scorsese watching classic films with her father. There’d be pizza, ginger ale, and plenty to talk about once the credits started rolling. Films like Citizen Kane, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and the 1955 Indian drama Pather Panchali would be meticulously selected by her father to reflect some aspect of her life at the time – a historical event she was studying in class or a personal struggle she was going through. “I found myself putting myself in certain characters shoes to get away from my own issues,” she shared.
When asked where she wants to be in a decade, Scorsese laughed and responded simply: “I just want to be happy.” At the moment, the young multi-hyphenate is focused on the present, hitting the books and creating short films with her friends. And while she doesn’t have a definite plan for after college (which 21-year-old does?), she knows one thing for sure – she wants to keep creating. “I want to continue putting out positive messages and just seeing where life takes me.”
Read our full interview with the Francesca below!
V MAGAZINE: Thanks for chatting with us Francesca! What was it like shooting for the magazine? What were some of your favorite moments from the shoot?
FRANCESCA SCORSESE: For me, it was really chill like the whole environment. Everyone was really relaxed and really easy to be around. They left it sort of open for me to do really whatever I was comfortable with. It was all about playing around and seeing what looks good. It was just a really great experience and everyone was really awesome.
V: Nice, that sounds super fun. And I also want to talk a little bit about your acting experience. You're this multi-hyphenate, where you have this gift for acting, but you also have this passion for directing and film. If you could speak to how that manifested and how those passions came together.
FS: I always grew up knowing I wanted to do something in the film industry. I was surrounded by it, I practically grew up on film sets. I've always seen that side of life – it started with my dad. And I don't know, as I got older, there was a moment in time where I wasn't doing so well and so I became really invested in watching as many shows and films as I possibly could. And I found myself putting myself in certain characters' shoes almost to get away from my own issues. And like, almost wishing that I could become these characters and step out of my life and just watch their life. But I think that's when I realized I wanted to act. I started reciting their monologues and looking up scripts and talking to myself in the mirror or on a camera. And then I went to like this intensive, summer acting camp or whatever and that's when I really found some tools and different ways I could express myself through acting. And I started to really just love it. And I signed up on Backstage and Actors Access and I was able to be in a few short films. Of course, my own films and my friends' films and stuff. But at the same time, I was still making my own short films and aspiring to go to NYU where I'm at now. I’m just sort of seeing where life takes me and where my passions take me.
V: And you spoke a little bit before about how you were exposed to this industry from a very young age. With your father being a film legend, what did he think? Did he give you any advice on breaking into the industry?
FS: I think he also knew as I got older that filmmaking is what I wanted to do because he showed me constantly old classic films from literally when I was born to the age I am now. Every weekend, we would watch films, and he'd show me certain films based on my age, based on what I was learning at school, certain life lessons. And, like, I mean, I kept a whole list of every single film he has ever shown me, and what age I was. And as I was watching these films, I was also growing and developing. I'm constantly thinking and like trying to be creative and I think that, as I was watching these films, they really influenced me. And I started making my own films, especially when my dad started showing me silent films, I was really drawn to them and I started making my own, trying to piece together whatever was going on in my mind. It would just be me, my mom's MacBook Pro, my living room, and my dogs, and those were the characters and I would play each character. And put music over it and put titles for my dialogue. He saw me doing all that. He saw all my films, and he even helped me with some of them. And it was just sort of a really fun, creative space that he created for me. That's how I basically spent my time was filming and filming, and filming and editing. But then as I wanted to get into acting, originally, he was like, 'I don't know.' But when he saw that, I was able to work with Luca Guadagnino, he actually was very excited and really encouraged me to do it. And my mom would read my scripts and they were both were constantly on me. I don't know, advice that he's given me in terms of filming is just to create, to be true to who I am, and not let anyone influence me otherwise. If I really want to do something, I have to put my mind to it. And just do it.
V: How do you navigate that world and forging your own path? Have you found it hard?
FS: It's really hard. I don't know, I'm still learning. I mean, I'm just trying to audition as much as I can. I am working with him on a couple of other projects, but they were my idea and they're not actually acting-related or film-related. But I don't know I'm still in school and I'm still trying to find my way. I think it's hard because I'm very, very close with him like, we're best friends. I'm just constantly auditioning – I get things, I don't get things and he doesn't have any influence over it, you know?
V: And moving on to We Are Who We Are, where you played Brittany. How did you go about developing the character?
FS: For me, I think it was a lot about visually getting into character. And then once I was dressed as her and I looked like her, I was like, 'Okay.' I actually started to become her. I originally read, she had platinum blonde hair. And then when I got there, they tried to put pink highlights in my hair. And then suddenly, one day, they were like, 'You know what, we're just gonna bleach your entire head. We're gonna dye it pink.' And I was like, 'What!' I've never dyed my hair before. And so the next day, I drove out to Milan, like a long time in the car, several hours, and then I stayed in this chair for hours and bleached the life out of my hair, dyed it pink, sort of purpley hue. I've never seen myself with pink hair before and I think when I looked in the mirror, it was sort of like silvery, I like, I was like, so confused. I was like, 'Who is this person?' But then I really started to love it and I became really confident. Again, I think confidence is a huge part of my character. And I would play around with it – little things like her necklaces, she had a B necklace and that was something that I loved. The second I put it on, I was Brittany.
V: And do you have a favorite moment working with the team that you'll remember for the rest of your life?
FS: Just literally every day. Honestly, I don't even know anymore. Everyone asked me that and in the beginning, I could pinpoint little moments. But now I'm just like, I don't even know. I think that the nights and the days that we all hung out and went out in town and actually spent time together off of set or even on set when we were waiting for lighting change or camera or whatever. We all became like a little family and I think that the connections that we all had are very special, and definitely something that's going to last forever because I see them all on occasion.
V: And as a rising director, did Luca offer any insight into the filmmaking process for you? did you observe his creative process during this time, as well?
FS: I did. I'd only ever really been on my dad's film set so it was really special to be able to see another incredible filmmaker pursue his passion and work and be very in his own world of creating. I think that I was able to see different directing styles, both my dad and him are great with actors. And I know with Luca, he really tried to make us feel comfortable with what we were doing. But he also pushed us, there were some things that I would have never done that I ended up doing because he helped me go out of my comfort zone. It was just really great to be able to see the two different directing styles and with Luca be a part of it.
V: How has it been transitioning back to the life of a student? Do you have to flip a switch in your brain or do you feel like you're creating in the same way on set?
FS: I think I do flick a bit of a switch. I'm trying to be as normal as possible. This first week of school, it's been a little bit stressful. I just had a class this morning, I literally fell asleep in class. It was really bad because I'm so sleep-deprived. I want to finish off my senior year strong and then, of course, I'm thinking about what am I going to do with the future. But I also have all these projects and things happening and coming out. I don't know, my brain is really jumbled right now. I don't know I do flip a bit of a switch – back to just being student me, it's definitely different for when I'm on set. If I'm on set I'm in my creative headspace. Here, I'm actually trying to absorb this information.
V: You have partnered with Calvin Klein, and the campaign that’s all about body positivity - will be released in November. What was that experience like working with them? What does body positivity mean to you?
FS: It's been insane and amazing. I feel like it almost paid an homage to my character in We Are Who We Are because she's so confident and doesn't care about what other people think of her versus me, I care. Like, I might seem confident, I'm not. I'm constantly hyper-aware of what I look like, my body. But I don't know, I think that the fact that I was chosen to give this message of body positivity. I think that's absolutely amazing. It was definitely, really validating for me. And I want to try to accept myself more. And I think that everyone should just love themselves. And I think that this campaign definitely helped me and I hope it helps other people.
V: Is there anything you are hoping to accomplish by the end of 2021?
FS: I want to graduate. I definitely want to continue acting, keep putting myself out there. And I definitely want to make more films. I feel like I've made films, but because of COVID, I feel like I sort of stopped. I made home films like archival footage stuff, but I want to be able to go out there and put myself to work. You know what I mean?
V: And the last question that we had for you is Where do you see yourself like In the future, say 10-20 years down the line? What do you want to do?
FS: I just want to be happy. I want to be creating constantly because that's what literally puts my mind at ease all the time. Yeah, I want to be happy. I want to continue putting out positive messages and making art and just seeing where life takes me.
Makeup Christyna Kay (Art Department), Hair Erol Karadag (Saint Luke Artists), Manicure Nori (SEE Management), Production Chloê Brinklow