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How Pete Davidson's Real-Life Grandpa Ended Up In The King Of Staten Island

The King of Staten Island Pete Davidson in the firehouse

Co-writer/director Judd Apatow’s latest film, The King of Staten Island, has been praised by critics for its humorous, yet heartfelt story that sees actor/co-writer Pete Davidson playing a character who hits close to home. In this semi-autobiographical narrative, the SNL favorite leaned on a lot of personal experiences to bring his character to life. But his real life grandpa, Stephen, helped out a little as he found his way into the cast of The King of Staten Island.

While speaking with the Herald-Tribune, Judd Apatow was asked whether Stephen Davidson’s role was written into the project by his grandson, and the director cleared up how that happened thusly:

No, Pete didn’t write that one. When Pete was a kid, his mom was a school nurse. She was also an emergency room nurse, simultaneously. So, Pete spent a lot of time with his grandfather, Stephen. And when Stephen was a kid, his dad ran a movie theater, way back in the day. Stephen loves movies, and he was the one who would watch movies with Pete when Pete was a very little kid. So, a lot of Pete’s love for cinema is from his grandfather. It’s very meaningful to Pete that his grandfather is in the movie. I think that was Pete’s happiest day on the set.

Reading the reasons behind Judd Apatow writing Stephen Davidson into The King of Staten Island is particularly beautiful, considering the film’s subject matter. Based partially on Pete Davidson’s own struggles in dealing with the death of his father (a firefighter who died in the line of action on 9/11), there’s already awards season talk about Davidson’s performance in the movie. Which probably means that some of the trademark Apatow intensity shows up, and there’s bound to be tears. So for both the audience’s sake, as well as Pete Davidson’s own good fortune, a killer speech in The King of Staten Island was given to his cinephile grandfather, Stephen.

More importantly, seeing as Stephen and Pete’s own history of going to the movies sort of led to this moment, you can bet the two family members-turned-co-stars were starstruck about starring together in a big Hollywood movie. Should that awards buzz pan out, it’s not that big of a stretch to think that Stephen would be one of the parties that will join Pete Davidson and the rest of The King of Staten Island’s entourage for the big night. As the film has already become a point of family pride, it would be a perfect ending to the film’s overall story, and perhaps more material for Judd Apatow to create a loving family dramedy narrative.

That all depends on how well this weekend’s release of The King of Staten Island goes, as the film will debut on premium VOD, this Friday.

Mike Reyes
Senior Movies Contributor

CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.