Comedy drama from Vertical Entertainment Repair of small engines, which is based on the play of the same name, is now coming to theaters. The leading roles are played by Jon Bernthal, John Pollono and Shea Whigham.
“Frankie (John Pollono), Swaino (Jon Bernthal) and Packie (Shea Whigham) are lifelong friends who share a love for the Red Sox, noisy bars and Frankie’s teenage daughter Crystal (Ciara Bravo). But when Frankie takes his pals over for a whiskey-laden evening and asks them to do the saucy young woman they all love a favor, things spiral out of control. Based on Pollono’s award-winning play, Small Engine Repair is a pitch black comedic drama with a wicked twist and a powerful exploration of brotherhood, class struggle, and modern masculinity.
ComingSoon editor-in-chief Tyler Treese spoke with Repair of small engines Stars Jon Bernthal, John Pollono and Shea Whigham on the film adaptation of the successful piece.
Tyler Treese: First off, Jon Bernthal, I’d like to ask you about the timing of this movie and bring this character back to life after so many years. Since then you’ve been a father for so many years, has that really shaped this role and how was it for you to return to this character?
Jon Bernthal: Wow man. See, being a father, I think it kind of informs everything. The interesting thing is when I met John right after I got married and I think my wife was pregnant with our first son when we did the play. John came into my life and I knew immediately that he was very special. I read this play, read his work, and just knew he was one of the best American playwrights of all time. It just wasn’t a question. No question for me. No wonder that he has now become one of the most sought-after and sought-after authors in Hollywood.
What we achieved with this piece was something very special. There are no words for it. On those nights when LA was impossible to get in, it was this humble little 40-seat show. It was so electric, it was so dangerous and yet all kinds of people were there. You had cops, you had fighters, you had theatergoers, all of these people came together to really just have this amazing roller coaster ride of a show. It has always been our dream to turn it into a film. John did it and he did it in a really nice way. I think he opened it perfectly and captured what was so electrifying and dangerous about the piece and so human about the piece. He just emphasizes, I think, with the movie and with the addition of Shea and how that just changes everything. I think we just feel tremendously blessed for all the growth we’ve had in our lives since then, our families, and the growth in that way and for this movie.
John Pollono, who took this from a play to a movie, were there any challenges for certain scenes? Feel like some things work better for the movie than the play itself? Tell me about it.
Johannes Pollono: Yes. The film expands the world a lot. It opens it. There weren’t any female characters in the play and they steal every scene they are in the movie and have that presence. The film is more grounded, deeper, in some ways more dangerous, more provocative. I mean, late-night theatergoers are particularly provoked in the theater. You want to have a conversation. You want to be shocked. You want to be stirred up. You want to feel something. In movies it’s more of an entertainment medium so you bypass that line and how far what are the expectations. It’s harder to shock a movie audience, and all of that had to be taken into account. Total. I think the story got more grounded and darker and certainly deeper in translation.
Then Shea, was I really curious about what drew you to this movie and what about the role of Packie really made you want to immerse yourself in this character?
Shea Whigham: Well, working with these two guys was the first. I think I’ll take the challenge because it was a piece that was played so often and I wanted to see if I could. You are always looking for something. I was looking for something like that back then. Jon Bernthal was approaching, Jon and I had done Wolf of Wall Street. We didn’t cross, but we knew each other and I knew Pollono’s work. So I took the chance. I mean, it was difficult, but so rewarding in the end that it worked out so nicely.
Then for Jon Bernthal, I love that you use your own dogs for both the original play and the film. It just shows how personal this is to you. Can you talk about finally getting to the end of this project and finally getting it out?
Bernthal: Oh, man, look, this thing has so much heart. If you know John, if you know Shea, you know it is us [passionate] People. All of our families were involved in this. Families were on the set. The kids in that thing were family. People have played the roles in plays and various productions, all of them have roles in the film. Yes, my boss, my best dog I’ve ever had, he was with every rehearsal of this piece. He was backstage every night. We had an idea he was the old dog on the piece. Back then, my puppy was playing Bam Bam in flashbacks. There was so much heart here, and I believe that if you lead with your heart, you can’t really fail. John, if anything, is all heart.