Francesca Scorsese Will Have a Spaghetti Fight if That’s What it Takes

Francesca Scorsese plays Britney in “We Are Who We Are” on HBO. Photo: HBO

Francesca Scorsese grew up around film. Every Saturday, she and her dad, Martin Scorsese (ever heard of him?), would watch classic movies together, and she clocked her 10,000 hours on set before most. Now 20, with her roles as “Little Girl” in The Aviator, The Departed, and Boardwalk Empire behind her, she’s stepping into her own as Britney, a self-assured, super-social character with pink hair in Luca Guadagnino’s gorgeous, angsty coming-of-age series We Are Who We Are, which premiered on HBO last month.

The part, which she inhabits seamlessly, helped Francesca become “more comfortable and confident” in herself, she said one afternoon this fall. She was calling from her apartment in New York City, where she’s been taking film classes at NYU Tisch remotely since the start of the semester. Below, she talks Italian classic movies, what she learned being on set with Guadagnino, and, finally, answers our burning question about how she’s helping her dad with Instagram.

What have you been doing to keep yourself busy during the pandemic?
Hm, what have I been doing? I’ve been watching a lot of movies and TV. I also have two dogs, so I’ve been hanging out with them. I have a miniature schnauzer named Oscar, and a micro-Pomeranian named Yeti, like the abominable snowman. He’s smaller than a teacup; it’s crazy.

What are you watching?
I’ve been taking an Italian cinema class for school at NYU Tisch, so I’ve watched several old Italian classics: I Vitelloni, Umberto D., Il Posto … I’ve seen the majority of them, actually. When I was younger, my dad and I would watch a movie every Saturday. It was our little family gathering. It was all usually classic or original films. So, by the time that I turned 20, I’d seen over 500 classic films. But there are still a good few that I haven’t seen, which I’m surprised by.

Can you tell me about spending five months on set for WAWWA in Italy? 
It was amazing — definitely different from what I’m used to. Everyone there is so nice. You can strike up a conversation with a random person in the middle of the street — compared to New York, where everyone is rude. I mean, I’m no different. But, anyway, Padua was beautiful. It felt like we were in a little summer camp, because it was all of us kids. They wanted us to immerse ourselves in the culture, so they told us to go out at night and go to restaurants. So we did, and definitely found ourselves fully immersed.

Did you become close with your costars?
In the end, we were like a little family. We were together in a completely new environment. A lot of them hadn’t been to Italy before, or even outside of the US. I met a lot of them for the first time in the Italian class that we took, and we all bonded so quickly. We made a little group chat called “WAWWA Kids.” Jack [Dylan Grazer, who plays Fraser] came later on, and at first they didn’t want us to include him, because they wanted it to be as real as possible. (Jack is the outsider in the beginning of the show, and the rest of the characters are already a friend group.) So they told us to go out without him. But eventually we were like, No! We want to hang out with Jack too!

Do you feel like you grew at all as a person during that time?
I really immersed myself in my character. Brittany is superconfident, and she values friendship. When I left Italy, I was definitely much more comfortable and confident in myself. Also, knowing the fact that I could do what I did in Italy — I was pushed out of my comfort zone a lot. Willingly, but I had to sing; I’m terrified of heights and I had to zip line multiple times. So I was really proud of myself in the end for doing all of these things that I probably wouldn’t have done normally.

You’ve been on sets before, but what was it like working with Luca Guadagnino?
It was really interesting because I’m so used to seeing how my dad works. Being put on someone else’s set, I was super intrigued by how he was going to go about it. He was really focused on us actors. He constantly wanted to make sure that we were comfortable with what we were doing. But he also wasn’t afraid to speak his mind. Like if he didn’t like something, he’d be like, ‘No, I don’t like it.’ He’d say, ‘You have it in you; do it again.’ And then when you got it, he’d say, ‘Perfect.’ He says, ‘Divine’ all the time.

Do you feel like you grew as an actor as well?
I really learned to trust myself and my instincts. I learned a lot on set. There was a scene where Jack and I have a spaghetti fight, and it actually wasn’t scripted. Jack just decided to throw spaghetti at me, and Luca loved it. He loved it. After he did that, I was furious. I was covered in spaghetti, and it was in places that it shouldn’t be. But I realized that it added so much to the scene.

This is unrelated to WAWWA, but I’m under the impression that you help your dad with his Instagram. Is that correct? If so, I just want to say that you’ve been doing an incredible job! It’s one of my favorite accounts to follow.  
Oh my god, that’s so funny. Yeah! A long time ago, I was like, ‘Dad, you have to get an Instagram.’ And he was like, ‘Ugh, I don’t want to do that.’ I was like, ‘Pleeeease!’ I love Instagram. I use it as a little photo journal of my life. So he let me make it for him. Obviously, people didn’t believe it was his, so I filmed a video of him being like, “Instagram, this is my Instagram.” Like so bad. [Laughs.] I like showing the more normal aspects of his life. People compare him to God sometimes, and I’m like, Jesus! He’s just a little old man with a family. He’s very talented, but I also think people might benefit from seeing the other side of his life. He’s an incredible father and very, very sweet. He loves his dogs.

So are you basically his social-media manager now?
Gosh, no! I couldn’t keep up with that. I post a lot of the family stuff. He also has it on his phone, so he does it with me. He chooses what the captions are. But I actually share the account with Paramount and Netflix for anything he has to do. Like if he has a project or something, other people will log on and post. I was like, I can’t keep doing this. I have school, and I’m also working. But I try!

Francesca Scorsese Is Down For a Spaghetti Fight