Last Call: Director Paolo Pilladi Talks Cast, Film's Timeless Message

IFC's Last Call is a film near and dear to director Paolo Pilladi's heart. Partnering with co-writer and executive producer Greg Lingo, the tale follows a real estate developer Mick (Jeremy Piven), who returns to his old Philadelphia neighborhood and helps decide its future, not realizing the long-term implications it has to those he grew up with. I spoke with the first-time director on how the project came together, the inspiration behind the story, and working with the cast.

Last Call: Director Paolo Pilladi Talks Cast, Film's Timeless Message
Bruce Dern and Jeremy Piven in Last Call (2021). Image courtesy of IFC Films

Last Call: A Story of Reflection

"So the project was brought to me by the co-writer and executive producer whose name is Greg Lingo," Pilladi said. "He had written the first draft of a script based on the neighborhood he grew up in. Coincidentally, I had grown up in a very similar neighborhood, just about 10, 15 minutes on the opposite side of the border of Philadelphia, West Philly. So I knew the world really well. I knew my neighborhood was a working-class, predominantly Italian, and African-American neighborhood. Greg's was predominantly Irish and Asian American. But, you know, in a way, we were cut from the same area. So I knew it, and I was excited to tell that story, that kind of story that intrigued me: Working-class stories."

Last Call: Taryn Manning Talks Jeremy Piven, Compares Film and TV
Taryn Manning in Last Call (2021). Image courtesy of IFC Films

Last Call provided a casual atmosphere, which was built on the foundation from the stories from Pilladi and Lingo's combined backgrounds. "A lot of it comes from anecdotes and kind of stories you tell around the bar," Pilladi explained. "You know, having some beers or growing up in that kind of environment, you know, and then we went in. [We had] some layered and some other topics like gentrification-type of stuff that is going on around the country and certainly in neighborhoods for plot purposes or whatever. Then it lent itself to a little bit of improvisation, which I'm a big fan of."

All-Star Comedic Cast

Pilladi was fortunate enough to land talented comedic talent who have such organic chemistry on screen. "I would say the meat of it was in the script, right, but all of it, all the flavor was a lot of improvisation," he said. "I was blessed with this cast. I mean, and all of them from Jeremy and Bruce Dern, Jamie [Kennedy], Taryn [Manning] on down to Cheri [Oteri] and Zach [McGowan] have their incredible comedic chops. I would have been silly to kind of not let them go, you know, not let them do their thing, right?!"

The director also credits the actors' natural charisma helping to make the film work. "Yeah, you know, that's the beauty of casting," Pilladi said. "Obviously, actors act, but they all find a piece that they can relate to for Jeremy, I think, who come from the theater world in Chicago. Zach McGowan, who plays his brother Dougal, grew up in an Irish pub family Irish pub in New York City. And, you know, Jamie Kennedy is from the area where it's set in [Philly]. So he knew that world quite intimately. And in a couple, other cast members were kind of local as well. It was really important to have that authentic feel to these characters. This is intentionally a kind of a grimy, unapologetic comedy. Right? It's not a glossy film by any means."

Last Call: Jamie Kennedy on Importance of Telling Stories with Soul
Courtesy of IFC Films

Last Call also stars Jack McGee and Cathy Moriarty. The film is available in theatres, on digital, and on-demand on March 19.

About Tom Chang

I'm a follower of pop culture from gaming, comics, sci-fi, fantasy, film, and TV for over 30 years. I grew up reading magazines like Starlog, Mad, and Fangoria. As a writer for over 10 years, Star Wars was the first sci-fi franchise I fell in love with. I'm a nerd-of-all-trades.