| USA TODAY
Francesca Scorsese was shooting HBO’s “We Are Who We Are” in northern Italy early last fall when her famous dad, director Martin Scorsese, popped by for a visit.
His mob epic “The Irishman” was closing the BFI London Film Festival, and he wanted to see how his daughter was getting along on the set of her first TV project. The series’ director, Luca Guadagnino (“Call Me By Your Name”), was petrified.
“I remember him coming up to me like, ‘Oh, my God, I don’t know if I can function today, I’m so nervous,’ ” Francesca Scorsese says. “I was like, ‘It’s OK!’ Everyone has this huge perception of my dad, being who he is, but he’s not something to be very stressed about. He’s just a funny little old man who’s quite talented.”
“We Are Who We Are” (Mondays, 10 EDT/PDT), is an eight-episode coming-of-age drama set on a U.S. army base in Italy, following two young teens named Fraser (Jack Dylan Grazer) and Caitlin (Jordan Kristine Seamón) as they come to terms with their sexuality. Scorsese, 20, plays their free-spirited yet vulnerable friend Britney, who leads the group in a night of drunken house-party revelry in Monday’s wild fourth episode.
“She’s confident, flirtatious and cares so much about her friends, which really drew me in,” Scorsese says. “I was kind of like that when I was 14, and thought that would be a fun character to play and to revisit that part of my life.”
Here’s what else you need to know about the fledgling actress/filmmaker, a junior at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts (her dad’s alma mater).
The next Timothée Chalamet?: Get to know Jack Dylan Grazer, star of HBO’s ‘We Are Who We Are’
Fall TV preview: ‘Deaf U,’ 6 more new TV shows you should watch
This isn’t her first time on screen.
As a young girl, Scorsese briefly appeared in a slew of her dad’s films, including 2004’s “The Aviator,” 2006’s “The Departed” and 2011’s “Hugo.” She’s wanted to be a director since she was 7, when she started making “hilarious and very cringe-worthy” home movies that her father was “obsessed with.” But she didn’t catch the acting bug until she was about 13.
“I was going through a rough period, and became fascinated with stepping into somebody else’s shoes and forgetting about your problems,” Scorsese says. She attended some theater camps in high school but was always too quiet and nervous on stage, and says she prefers film and TV (“I’m much more subtle in my acting style”).
‘We Are Who We Are’ is her first major acting role.
A casting director for “We Are Who We Are” found Scorsese on Instagram and contacted her about auditioning for the role of Britney. Her only previous acting experience was in short films, so she was shocked when Guadagnino called her in the middle of a college class to let her know she got the part.
“I ran out of class and hid in a room with my computer and Skyped him,” Scorsese says. “I really couldn’t fathom the fact I had gotten the role. I was like, ‘As an actress? Or do you want me to be a (production assistant)?’ I genuinely couldn’t comprehend it.”
Although she’s studying filmmaking at NYU, she started having acting “withdrawals” after shooting “We Are Who We Are.” “That’s the dilemma of my life right now: What do I want to do more?” she says.
She and her dad are always joking.
Scorsese calls her dad one of her best friends, and sometimes goes viral with her Instagram posts about him. She recently shared a series of Dubsmash lip-sync videos they recorded in honor of Father’s Day. (“He’d be like, ‘Don’t put this anywhere’ and of course I did.”) And last Christmas, she trolled him by packing his gifts in Marvel wrapping paper, after his comments that comic-book movies aren’t “cinema” caused a small firestorm among filmmakers and superhero fans.
“I personally agreed with him, but I didn’t think it was such a serious thing,” Scorsese says. “Since everyone was going so crazy, I thought it’d be hilarious, so I went out to CVS and bought some Marvel wrapping paper. I was joking with him about it at first, and he was like, ‘I’m gonna disown you.’ But I did it and he kinda glared at me, and then just opened it anyway.”
She was ‘afraid’ of Leonardo DiCaprio growing up.
Because of her dad’s work, Scorsese was raised on movie sets and A-listers were always around the house. Cate Blanchett’s kids were her playmates growing up, and she still sees her godfather, Robert De Niro, often.
“It never felt like, ‘Oh, my God, these are famous people and they’re here in my living room,’ ” Scorsese says. “It was just like, ‘This is Uncle Bob. This is Uncle Leo.’ ”
Uncle Leo is, of course, Leonardo DiCaprio, another of her dad’s close friends and collaborators from films including “Gangs of New York” and “The Wolf of Wall Street.” But it took her a while to warm up to him.
“When I was very little, I used to be afraid of Leo because I hated attention,” Scorsese says. “I vividly remember hiding under the table and seeing his feet walking around, and him going, ‘Francesca!’ He always picked me up and threw me in the air, and I hated it so much. But as I got older, I was like, ‘OK, this is fine. I don’t really care.’ ”