When Dennis Staroselsky, a part-time lecturer in Northeastern’s theater department, met Oscar-winning actor Diane Keaton, he told her he loved her work.
“Oh, shut up,” she quipped back. “I’ll be saying the same thing about you one day.”
The two met only briefly during the filming of Love, Weddings & Other Disasters—a romantic comedy in which they both appear. The movie, which was filmed largely in Boston, stars Keaton as a free-spirited blind woman who has been set up on a date with a detail-oriented celebrity caterer, played by Oscar-winner Jeremy Irons. Directed by Dennis Dugan, the film will be released online on Dec. 4.
Staroselsky, who teaches two courses on acting for the camera in the College of Arts, Media and Design, plays Robert Barton, an old-society Boston mayoral candidate whose wedding provides the backdrop for the film’s main plot. (Here’s some movie trivia: Staroselsky says his character’s name is also the name of Dugan’s real-life uncle.)
They started filming in September 2019, often shooting scenes out of order based on the availability of locations and on Keaton’s and Irons’ availability, Staroselsky says.
“Every scene that involved them was shot first; whether or not it was in sequential order didn’t matter,” he says.
Herein lay one of the challenges of acting in film as opposed to the stage, as Staroselsky tells his students. When working in film, actors have to be ready to drop into any point in the plot, and be totally present in that moment, he says.
“An actor on the stage has to be responsible for their character’s journey from A to Z in two hours,” Staroselsky says. “That’s why you rehearse for four weeks: to be able to portray that journey.”
In film, he says, “you have to be really specific, and know what’s happening for your character in each of those moments. You have to really be thinking the thoughts that your character is thinking.”
The cast and crew filmed in a variety of locations in and around Boston, including the historic Trinity Church in the Back Bay, a Duck Boat on the Charles River, Revere Beach in Revere, Massachusetts, and the former Raynham-Taunton Greyhound Park in nearby Raynham, Massachusetts.
Staroselsky says Keaton and Irons also have several scenes in the Boston Public Garden.
Staroselsky says he never filmed any scenes with Keaton or Irons, but met them both briefly during a brunch for the actors.
Keaton was as funny and free-spirited in real life as the character she plays in the film, Staroselsky says—and Irons shared many traits with his character, too. “He was very serious and meticulous about the script, a very detail-oriented actor,” Staroselsky says.
Filming wrapped in the fall of 2019, but production was put on hold shortly thereafter when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down industries across the U.S.
Staroselsky didn’t often think about the project, focused as he was “being a dad and a husband,” and finishing teaching his classes online. Now, he says, he’s been able to use the experience to enhance his course lessons.
“More and more, casting directors are not having people come into their offices, and actors are learning how to make self-tapes instead,” he says. “You have to be prepared for that—get a ring light, have the right background, and understand that if you get a call back, you may have to quarantine in a hotel for 10 days or so first.”
Reflecting on the time since he shot Love, Weddings & Other Disasters, Staroselsky says it feels much longer than a year ago.
“I’m excited for the film to come out,” he says. “Hopefully it’ll make people laugh, and provide a little bit of escapism during this heavy time we’re experiencing.”