The actor talks We Are Who We Are and finding her own path in the film industry.
Dress by MARA HOFFMAN, rings by CARTIER, earrings by DEMARSON and necklace by LEGIER.
Taken from the Winter 2020 issue. Order your copy now.
Francesca Scorsese grew up immersed in the make-believe. While most of us were propped up in front of X Factor every Saturday night, she was taking in everything from the classics to obscure foreign films and silent movies, observing life through the lenses of the greatest directors in the history of cinema.
With one of those directors being her father, Martin Scorsese, she grew up peering behind the veil of the camera too, watching how he brought these worlds of make-believe alive. From experiencing a brawling 1846 Manhattan on the set of Gangs of New York when she was a child to her first acting experience alongside Sacha Baron Cohen in Hugo, it’s no wonder the 20-year-old has been drawn to acting and directing.
Whilst studying filmmaking at NYU, Scorsese is currently riding the wave of her breakout role as Britney in Luca Guadagnino’s We Are Who We Are earlier this year, a hypnotic coming-of-age story set at a US military base in an Italian seaside town. Here, she reflects on what the show taught her and what she hopes we’ll learn, dealing with negativity around her family’s fame, and why she’s ready to make her own mark.
Bodysuit by DIESEL, coat by ASOS, shoes by PINKO and earrings by MACHETE.
What was it like working with such an esteemed cast on We Are Who We Are?
Being able to watch these incredible actors and actresses like Alice Braga, Chloë Sevigny, Kid Cudi and our director Luca Guadagnino in their element felt like an honour to me. I honestly didn’t feel like I was worthy enough to even be in the same room as them while they were creating such art. In the end we all became like a little family, especially us kids.
What were some of the biggest challenges of playing Britney?
I think that the biggest challenge of playing Britney, while also being the most fun thing about playing her, was her confidence. At the time, I really wasn’t confident in my own skin and really cared about what other people thought of me. Getting used to playing someone who was the opposite took a lot out of me; it very much felt like I was going outside of my comfort zone on the daily. But eventually, I think I got used to it and it quickly became something that I enjoyed.
Why do you think it has resonated with so many people?
The show focuses a lot on sexuality and coming of age. I hope that teenagers who are struggling with their own identity, or trying to discover themselves in different ways, are able to connect with at least one of our characters in the show. I certainly feel like each character is someone you can identify with. I know that if I had a show like this out when I was trying to come to terms with myself, I would have felt rather at ease that I was not alone in my struggles, and that someone I looked up to on television was experiencing and going through the same things that I was.
You’re also at school for filmmaking, are you looking to go into directing now too?
The big question of my life is whether I want to be an actress or a filmmaker. Everyone always wants to know, and honestly, so do I! I find so much happiness and excitement from doing both, so I figure why not do both? I don’t want to restrict myself by only doing one thing.
How have you found navigating the industry as a young woman and the pressures of being in the public eye?
It’s been an emotional rollercoaster. I get a lot of hate, but at the same time I have so many wonderful fans who totally outweigh that nastiness. I would say the pressures of being in the public eye are pretty profound. I have to be especially conscious of what I do and put out into the world, because if anything bad happened it wouldn’t only come down on me, but also potentially my dad.
Having such a respected father in the industry, do you ever struggle with the idea that you have to prove yourself more than other people?
It’s funny, because as long as I can remember people have asked me if I was going to ‘follow in his footsteps’, and tell me that I have to because it is ‘in my blood’. Automatically that is rather pressuring for me, but I would say that, especially when studying filmmaking, people have held me to higher standards. Not only is that not fair to others, but it’s also not very fair to me as I am still learning and have nowhere near as much experience as my father in the film world. Originally, when I got the role of Britney in We Are Who We Are I was both extremely honoured and happy, but also a bit upset because I automatically thought that I had gotten it because of my last name. When I met Luca, he actually told me the opposite: that he had no idea what my last name was until he had cast me.
Has anyone in your family or in the industry given you advice about this?
My dad has always had great advice about this, given that he has most definitely experienced a lot of it in his life. Whenever I encounter hate or get harassed on social media, he constantly reminds me: ‘Don’t pay attention to those people, do what you love, and don’t let them stop you from doing it’. Right before the show aired, I was really worried about how people would perceive me and about how I looked. My dad’s advice always reaches very deeply into my soul and always seems to cure my every worry almost magically. I wrote down what he told me in response to my concerns: ‘You’ve got to stand proud. What you did emotionally is genuine. It doesn’t matter what you look like. Stand proud’. And I am.
Hair & Makeup
Gianpaolo Ceciliato at Tracey Mattingley
Diego Benduzu, Conor Monaghan and Calvin Stark
Storm Monteiro Tyler
Nathalie Akiya at Kranky Productions