Toronto gets its “fotocamera da vicino” (close-up) in the new romantic comedy,Little Italy.
Shot entirely on location in the city’s famed Italian district the film stars homegrown actor Hayden Christensen (Star Wars prequel trilogy) and Emma Roberts as Leo and Nikki, a young couple who are forced to navigate a blossoming romance amidst a war between their families' competing pizza restaurants.
The film begins when we meet best friends Sal and Vince, who pool their talents and secret family recipes to give Little Italy its most storied pizza. However, pizza is not the be-all and end all when it comes to their happy union. One day a terrible fight breaks out between the two. No one knows why. But Little Italy is never the same again and neither is its pizza.
Nikki, a budding chef studying in London comes home for a few weeks and rekindles a relationship with her childhood romantic crush Leo. All is not fair in love and pizza and the two struggle to find happiness amidst their father’s feuds.
The film also stars veteran actors Danny Aiello as Leo’s grandfather and Andrea Martin as Nikki’s “Nonna.” The two have a secret relationship going of their own which adds more tension to the pizza wars.
Hayden Christensen who was born in Vancouver but raised in Markham, Ontario was not only thrilled not only with getting to shoot a movie where he grew up, but also having the chance to act opposite Danny Aiello. “We were so lucky to have Danny in this movie,” Hayden told us during our interview. “He brought so much to the film and for me getting to work so closely with him being such a huge fan was extremely meaningful.”
Aiello, who has shot several movies in Toronto, told us he felt Toronto’s identity crisis as an all-purpose location troubled him. “Toronto doubled for New York in Moonstruck, and that was something that always bothered me,” he says. “I’m so happy that this film was not only shot in Toronto’s Little Italy in Toronto but it doesn’t hide that fact.”
As for working with Andrea Martin, Danny Aiello was enamoured. Not just because of her hilarious comic timing, but by their so-called ‘love scenes.’ “We had a love scene where we were under the covers and I was dressed in a suit,” he recalls. “I had all of my clothes on and I am not quite sure what Andrea had on but there was no touching. I remember her saying under the covers, next time can you please take off your shirt?”
As for how much pizza that was consumed during the making of this film, let’s just say nobody starved on this set.
Our Bonnie Laufer sat down with stars Danny Aiello & Hayden Christensen and Director Donald Petrie (Mystic Pizza) and Producer Vinay Virmani (Dr. Cabbie) to find out more about what it was like to work on this movie and most importantly, how much pizza was actually consumed!