Russo Brothers Talk 'Pizza Film School,' the 'Extraction' Prequel and 'Cherry' (Exclusive)
By John Boone
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You don't make the biggest movie in the world without knowing a thing or two about movies, and Avengers: Endgame directors the Russo Brothers are passing on some of that wisdom over a slice.
Each week, Anthony and Joe Russo meet up for Pizza Film School, their web series in which they sit down with a special guest to discuss one of their favorite classic films while eating a pie from a local pizzeria. Or, as rapper KYLE puts it in the show's catchy new theme song:
"Who else better to tell me 'bout why certain shots go together than the best ever? / Ant and Joe is like Kobe and Shaq, and Ant is obviously Shaq / But forget who's taller, they're blockbuster ballers / And now let's get ready for class."
Watch ET's exclusive debut of the ooey, gooey, out-there opening above, then scroll on for an interview with Joe Russo talking upcoming projects (like his Extraction follow-up for Chris Hemsworth) and all things Pizza Film School. (This week's movie is No Country for Old Men, with special guest Josh Brolin.)
ET: Give me the origin story of Pizza Film School. What did you want to accomplish with the series and what's been the reception you've seen so far?
Joe Russo: Like a lot of the world right now, Anth and I have been spending inordinate amounts of time during quarantine watching movies with our family. As lifelong film lovers, there's so many classics that have shaped us into the directors we are today, and we’ve always made a point of sharing those films with our kids. One of my daughters thought that quarantine would be a good opportunity to also share our favorites with other film lovers as well. With that in mind, we wanted to develop a program that would not only give people a chance to decompress from the stresses of the pandemic but also support local business, which is why we thought there’d be no better way to watch a movie than with some pizza from your favorite local pizza shop. It’s been a blast getting to unwind every Friday and chat with amazing artists about the films we love.
Who are the dream guests you and Anthony have on each of your lists? Do you have an ultimate movie and guest combination?
Our dream guest was Mark Hamill, talking to him about the most important commercial film during our youth, Empire Strikes Back. We were very fortunate to fulfill our dream on our fourth episode...
Will there be any type of pizza or toppings you absolutely refuse to partake in?
I will not eat pineapple on pizza. It is criminal to put pineapple on pizza. When we spent some time studying in the U.K., one of their favorites is corn and prawn pizza. Needless to say, this is an abomination.
Where do you see Pizza Film School going in the future? Are you hoping to continue this after quarantine ends with an in-person Pizza Film School?
At the heart of Pizza Film School is the opportunity to connect directly with film lovers and geek out on the shared movie-watching experience, so we absolutely want to continue that beyond quarantine. Once we're in a position where people can safely gather again, we would relish the idea of doing something in-person. We love giving people a chance to see and think about movies they would never have considered -- the same way we do with our families. Whether the show continues in its current form or grows into something bigger remains to be seen, but for now, we're just having fun hanging out with Markus and McFeely every week. Having the same arguments about movies that we do when we're all sitting in the writers' room together.
You've had quite a busy quarantine, including the release of Extraction, which was a huge hit with Netflix and is getting a sequel. What do you want to do with the sequel that you didn’t get a chance to do in the first?
I started writing the sequel (prequel?) three weeks ago. It's a great character to write for, with a fantastic performance from Hemsworth. So it makes my job easier. I think the mission is to up the scale on this one, both emotionally and physically.
You're also working on finishing Cherry, starring Tom Holland. What do you think will surprise fans most about Holland’s performance in that? People are already ready to start an awards campaign, sight unseen.
Count me on the list of folks who are ready to start the awards campaign today. I think everyone will be blown away when they get a chance to see the depth and versatility he brings to Cherry. He is a generationally talented actor.
Do you have an update on when we can expect to see Cherry?
It's a complex question, given the circumstances. But we are aiming for late fall.
As you look forward to getting back on set and returning to work, how do you feel like your approach to making movies will change? Have the past few months at all changed the type of stories you want to tell?
Like all industries, the pandemic will transform the way we make movies. New technologies will be accelerated as we look for ways to control and make safe the shooting environment. I think that Anthony and I have been exploring a new chapter in our lives since Endgame. Our only motivation moving forward is finding great stories to tell. Stories that move us, make us think, challenge us and ask questions about the state of the world.
Stream all episodes of Russo Bros. Pizza Film School on YouTube.