Watch the trailer HERE.
New York-set drama The Wannabe takes place in the early 1990s as crime boss John Gotti’s trial is coming to a close. The film also marks Patricia Arquette’s first to come out since she won her Oscar forBoyhood. (Watch the trailer exclusively above.) In The Wannabe, Arquette plays Rose, a misguided woman in a predominantly Italian-American neighborhood who falls into a dodgy, drug-addled romance with a much younger man named Thomas (Vincent Piazza, Jersey Boys,Boardwalk Empire). Based on a true story, The Wannabe becomes something of a modern-day Bonnie-and-Clyde tale, with the impulsive couple embarking on an ill-considered crime spree.
The film is written and directed by, and co-stars Nick Sandow — best known for playing dejected women’s prison supervisor Joe Caputo in the hit Netflix seriesOrange Is the New Black — and executive produced by Oscar winner Martin Scorsese. Sandow, who grew up in the Bronx, told Yahoo Movies in a recent interview that The Wannabe represents a blend of his own experiences and real news events. “The bar and restaurant they go to in the film, Marianne’s, that was a place I used to go to as a kid,” he said. “You would go to that place and John Gotti would be there… and Robert DeNiro would be there.” Sandow even wrote a scene in the film depicting Eric Roberts walking into the restaurant — something he really witnessed.
Writer-director Nick Sandow, left, and Vincent Piazza (Photo: Courtesy of Deadline)
Sandow’s lead characters, Thomas and Rose, did exist. As depected in the movie, Thomas Uva really was a New York mobster fanboy; he really did attend Gotti’s trial; and he robbed local mafia social clubs with his girlfriend Rosemarie. “I was just fascinated with this couple,” said Sandow.
The Wannabe finished filming less than two years ago, just before Arquette completed the final leg of the 12-year Boyhood production. “When we were shooting, we carved out some time early in the schedule to get to her because she was doing this little independent film that she does for two weeks every year for the past 10 years,” Sandow said with a laugh. “I was overjoyed for her,” he said of her eventual Oscar win for the Richard Linklater film. “Of course, I knew it was great for our movie, too.”
Growing up in the predominantly Italian-American Bronx borough, Sandow had a bird’s-eye view into the mob’s local influence. “Nobody ever said ‘the mob’ or ‘the mafia,’” he pointed out. “People made money and nobody asked questions. It was very normal. It was in and around me. There was great potential to be a part of it and sometimes difficult not to be a part of it.” When asked to relay a specific, perhaps self-incriminating story, Sandow said with a laugh, “Of course I can’t!”
The Wannabe, also with Michael Imperioli (The Sopranos), Domenick Lombardozzi (The Wire), and David Zayas (Dexter), opens in theaters and is available on VOD Dec. 4.