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Interview with SENIOR MOMENT director Giorgio Serafini

March 22, 2021


Today William Shatner boldly goes where he has never gone before, by turning 90 years old. It’s hard to believe it, but then again it does feel like the prolific larger-than-life Canadian actor, writer, producer, director, and singer, has graced various stages, television shows and movies forever. On some projects, like his Priceline advertisements or his role as Grand Pear on the animated television series “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic”, all we hear is his inimitable voice. Apparently, working with Shatner is like magic, which is what I gathered when I spoke with Giorgio Serafini last week. He directed Shatner for his latest movie, “Senior Moment”, a romantic comedy which will be released in theaters and on VOD as of March 26th.

In “Senior Moment”, Shatner plays Victor Martin, a retired NASA test pilot who speeds around Palm Springs in his vintage Porsche convertible until he and his best pal, Sal Spinelli (Christopher Lloyd), get pulled over and Victor’s license is revoked and his car impounded. His life is upended when he’s forced to take public transportation for the first time, which is how he meets his polar opposite Caroline Summers (Jean Smart) and learns to navigate love and life again as he goes up against the state’s new DA to get back his license and car. The movie also stars Esai Morales, Katrina Bowden, Don McManus, Carlos Miranda, Joe Estevez, and Beth Littleford.

Playing a romantic lead in a movie is something different for Shatner and to be able to mix things up at this point in his career is probably what keeps the actor going. Directing a romantic comedy is also something different for “Senior Moment” director Serafini, who has primarily made action movies with the likes of Dolph Lundgren, Sean Patrick Flannery, Vinnie Jones, Eric Balfour, and Wesley Snipes, and therefore offers something new for him as well.

In the phone interview below, Serafini talks about how he became attached to the project and what it was like working with Shatner, as well as Christopher Lloyd (who was in “Star Trek III: The Search for Spock” with Shatner) and Jean Smart (who shared the small screen with Shatner on the short-lived American sitcom, “$#*! My Dad Says”). Towards the end, I mention “The Truth About La Dolce Vita”, an intriguing documentary that Serafini co-wrote, which delves into fascinating insight between famed Italian director Frederico Fellini, his producer, and his distributor. It premiered last year at the Venice Film Festival and will hopefully be available here in the States soon.

Without further ado, please enjoy my chat with the gracious Giorgio Serafini…





David J. Fowlie: Giorgio! It’s nice to meet you.

Griorgio Serafini: Nice to meet you, David. How are you doing?

DJF: Doing good. I’m calling you on a cold and windy day here in Chicago. How are you doing?

GS: I’m doing great. Thank you. You know, it’s funny, because the first time I talked to Bill Shatner about this movie, I was in this same room and he was in Chicago.

DJF: Oh really?

GS: Yeah! (both laugh)

DJF: So, you were in Chicago when you first approached Shatner…

GS: No, I was in L.A. and he was in Chicago.

DJF: Oh! Was he here for a convention or a speaking appearance?

GS: I suppose so. I have no idea.

DJF: That’s funny. I’m glad to be talking to you today about “Senior Moment”, which I enjoyed. It was fun and light. You know, I feel like watching a movie during a pandemic (hopefully as its winding down here), it’s nice to watch something that’s not so heavy.

GS: Absolutely.


Giorgio Serafini and William Shatner take a break on the set of “Senior Moment”


DJF: I know that this came to you long before the pandemic, but I was wondering if the light tone was something that attracted you to the story and can you talk about how you got attached to “Senior Moment”?

GS: The story of “Senior Moment” is kind of a magical story, because I was with producer Gina Goff and we were pitching another project and during lunch time she received a call from William Shatner, saying he was interested in doing the film. I had no idea that Gina gave the script to him. I actually didn’t know the script at the time. So, Gina asked me point blank, “Well, would you like to do a comedy with William Shatner?”, and I answered right away, “Of course. I would love to do a comedy with William Shatner, but Gina, I want to be honest, I’ve never done a comedy before. And she trusted me and I have to give it to her, she opened a brand new door in my career. I loved the process. Since then I did another comedy in Italy in Italian. So, I just loved doing that.

Now, about the script and about the whole lightness of this film…from the beginning, I thought this film was, in a deliciously wicked way, a little bit old fashioned – and I’m not talking about the age of the actors. I’m just talking about the fact that this is a comedy without swear words, this is a comedy very very clean, and it reminded me a little bit – I mean, I hope I’m not sounding pretentious by saying that, but of those great Nora Ephron comedies from the 90s.

DJF: I can totally see that. So, it resonated with you in that way and you could tell that just by reading the script?

GS: That resonated to me. The script was a little bit more racy than what the film is and the great thing about the process is that Bill and I had a couple of months to talk about the script and do some adjustments and that was really very helpful for our relationship on the set, because once we were on set there was really very little to talk about. You know, Bill is also a very good writer, but on this film, he gave me some amazing notes in preproduction. He’s a very very careful editor. I loved the process. I mean, probably the party scene was a little bit more racy than what we shot, but I wanted to give a very bright, colorful, Americana kind of Shangri-La. You know, some kind idea of a beautiful place that maybe, I don’t know if really exists, but, it’s in the film. And Palm Springs is pretty close, in a way. People live in that kind of dimension.

DJF: Well, yes. Having been to Palm Springs myself, I can attest it’s almost like a different world altogether. What I appreciated about that party scene is that this isn’t necessarily a senior citizen who is some kind of party animal or man-child. He is young in his mind, but his body tells him otherwise. So, what I appreciated about that party scene is that right away, even the way you shot it, you can tell he shouldn’t be there.

GS: (both laugh) …and I think he knows it! You know, Bill is unbelievable. What you see on screen is what you get in real life. He is in constant motion. Constantly works. He constantly has something going on and I’m amazed. I thought I was a workaholic. I’m nothing compared to him. So, you know, there are no real stunts in the film, but that is really him jumping into the pool. That’s really him as you can see very well. He’s really on all fours on gravel. And by the way, that’s him driving the fast BMW on the track. That was him…even when you don’t see it, that’s him driving.

DJF: That’s crazy! (both laugh)

GS: He would not get out from behind the wheel!

DJF: So, you were a little bit on edge yourself then, watching all that happen.

GS: Well, you know, I really love the guy. I have a brand new appreciation for him as a person that goes beyond the actor. So, you know, you forget his age when you meet him.

I asked him one morning – this is actually a good story – my mother calls me from Europe. And, you know, God bless her soul, she was complaining about all kinds of problems, you know, health problems. And, after a little bit, I go on the set and I meet Bill and I say, “Bill, because of you, I almost insulted my mother this morning,” and he goes, “What?” I said, “Yeah, she calls me complaining about her health and I said, mom, come on, stop it. I’m working with someone who is fifteen years older than you and he jumps in the pool and (laughs) chases women…” and he said, “Oh, okay. I get it.” Bill is the first one to say that he has no idea how that happened. He has no idea. And my idea about how healthy and dynamic he is that he never stops. He always works.

DJF: Well, it’s just amazing that he’s turning 90 next week!

GS: Unbelievable.


Jean Smart, Christopher Lloyd, and William Shatner, in a scene from “Senior Moment”


DJF: Talk about the rest of the cast really quick here, because it is a fantastic cast. I know that Bill has worked with some of them in the past. Christopher Lloyd is such a great right hand man to Shatner’s character and Jean Smart and Shatner have such fantastic chemistry. Can you talk about landing those two and what it ?

GS: Yes, absolutely. Jean and I have a fun story because we were friends before we started working together. Strangely enough, we actually met on a train going from San Diego to Los Angeles. Our two kids starting playing together and then we started talking and became very good friends with both of our families. The interesting thing about Jean is that she doesn’t talk about her work when she’s at home. So, we never never said, “Oh, it would be great one day to find a project to do together.” It’s just when this script came along, it was inevitable. I asked her if she wanted to do it and we did it. You know, I don’t even know, I cannot remember if the rest of the crew or the other actors knew we were friends, because it was a very – first of all, all of us were friends. It was a full of easy and fun to work with people. So, there was really no difference between Jean and I and the rest of the cast. But, you know, we kept it very professional. And what I will say about the chemistry between Bill and Jean is that it was very interesting as a director to see them work together because they have a very different approach to the material, even the way they develop their characters and finally they meet at the right point. On screen it looks absolutely effortless and it’s a blessing.

Now, Christopher Lloyd is another story. Christopher Lloyd is a fantastic answer. You know, he was always at the top of my list for this role. I wasn’t sure if he would accept because, you know, it’s not like he had that many lines. It’s a nice character and all, but it’s not a huge part, at least on paper. What I didn’t realize is how good Christopher is in finding his place inside of a scene even when he doesn’t have lines. It’s a real art form what he does. It’s not stealing the scene. It’s not trying to overpower the rest of the cast. He just finds his right space inside of the scene. And that is such a pleasure to watch that happen.

DJF: Yeah, knowing his body of work, I can totally see that and agree with you. I think my favorite scene with Lloyd is that courtroom scene when he was on the stand. I didn’t expect it to be poignant and touching.

GS: Yeah, it was very good. Honestly, he’s just so good. It was very good. It’s true. It is a fun scene, but is also an emotional scene and it’s great.

DF: Yeah. And he’s so good at balancing both comedy and drama. Can you talk about how the movie changed at all with the setting taking place in Palm Springs. I know the script originally had the story taking place in Florida and your producer chose Palm Springs, which is a fitting location for it. Did the geography change the feel of the movie at all?

GS: Well, it did a lot. This is the thing. Obviously, having such a great cast, my job was incredibly easy, in terms of directing actors. Not only because they obviously knew what they were doing, but also because they were at the same time, very very respectful. I mean, we were all very respectful of each other and that’s one of the blessings of doing this film. So, my main job was to frame the storytelling in a way that will enhance the fun parts or the abilities of these actors. And Palm Springs was the perfect setting. It’s a real magical place. It brings a dimension that is so modern and at the same time so 50s. It’s like this kind of weird mix between this beautiful architecture from the 50s and the 60s and then this very colorful kind of people who live there…it’s a magical place. I loved to shoot there and I tried my best to make it a character of it’s own.

DJF: I think you did just that. You nailed it. Really quick as we close…how will I be able to see “The Truth About La Dolce Vita?”

GS: Oh! I hope soon here in the States. That was a very nice project to work on, because a friend of mine, who is also the director, had a bunch of letters written between Fellini, the producer, and the distributor, and I have to tell ya – I have the letters in my garage, and I co-wrote the script with the director, Giuseppe Pedersoli – and that exchange of letters is, at the same time, gut-wrenching and extremely fun. Like (laughs), the producer said to Fellini, “Frederico, the film has to cost 400 million lira!” and Frederico Fellino goes, “Absolutely! Don’t worry!” The film cost 800 million lira. It’s like the distributer goes, “You guys are crazy! The film is 4 hours long!” and Fellini says, “Oh yeah. Don’t worry. I’ll cut it down.” And he cut only 7 minutes (both laugh).

DJF: Well, I am very curious and very interested in seeing it. So, I’ll be on the lookout for it. Giorgio, thank you so much for talking to me today. I know that “Senior Moment” was shot back in 2017, so congratulations on finally getting a release date. I wish you well.

GS: Thank you so much. It was a pleasure talking to you.


Giorgio Serafini (left) alongside producer Gina Goff, on the set of “Senior Moment”



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