• Interviews

Francesca Scorsese on “We Are Who We Are”

Most eight-year-olds don’t have the benefit of a master film class from one of the most renowned filmmakers in cinematic history. But then again, most people’s dad isn’t Academy and Golden Globe-winning director Martin Scorsese. For Francesca Scorsese, that tutelage was accessible in the family living room as she showed her father the movies she had been making. Six years later, the young girl would make a creative shift when the allure of playing characters, to lose herself into inhabiting other people, proved pivotal. Appearances in a few short films over the years led her to an audition for a new series created by Luca Guadagnino (Call Me By Your Name) and the now 21-year-old New Yorker is co-starring in the acclaimed drama We Are Who We Are, the story of a group of military offspring coping with their parent’s deployment in Italy, facing their own struggle with family, self-awareness and burgeoning sexuality.

Francesca Scorsese in We Are Who We Are (2020)



Let’s get really personal right off the bat. How many shades of color do you have running through your hair?

Oh, my God. A lot. It was pretty crazy. There was a lot of pink and a lot of purple. It got very white for a while and even started falling out. And then we had some dark roots (laugh).

Britney is such a free spirit and really owns her sense of self. When we first meet her, we are fascinated by her.

She was a fun character to play. I was not like her growing up and being able to play someone like her, it was nice to let loose.

The show is an examination of the pressures of young people today. How we fit in?

Yeah, I think we see that the most with Fraser. He is so different and that is why Britney was so drawn to that because he was so different. A group of so many friends can be made up of so many different people. They are so drawn to each other because of those differences and they really love each other.

You call Fraser T-shirt for many episodes. Did you ever have a nickname people called you?

On set, Ben, who plays Sam, called me Pinky for a while. When my hair was white, they would call me Stormy. We all had little nicknames.

It must have been such an intrusion in your life to have to film in Italy. How was that experience to immerse yourself in that local culture?

It was amazing. Looking back, it really helped with our situation. We were thrown into what our characters were thrown into. They had to move into this new place and just get by. Luca told us to go out and experience the culture as often as we could. We would hang out in restaurants and we would make friends with random people in the streets. This was pre-Covid. Some of the cast had never even been out of the US before. It was so cool. I feel so lucky to have worked in Italy.

Britney is a bit of a party girl.

Yeah. Definitely got some Britney in me while I was playing her. Didn’t get too crazy but it was a fun experience to feel more free.

When actors go on location, family and friends like to come to visit. I understand when your dad came to set, it somewhat freaked out your director.

Oh my God. My dad was supposed to come a couple of times but The Irishman had just released and he had all this press to do. So finally, he came for the festival scene outside. It was so hot and everyone was dying, Luca was completely terrified because he knew my father would be watching him. I kept telling him its fine. He is just a little old man who happens to be talented (laugh). It’s okay. He only stayed for a little while but it was really nice. It all worked out.

That little old man just happens to be one of the most talented filmmakers ever. But that’s okay. As you were growing up and exploring your own creativity, you started making films as a young girl. Did you understand who your father was in regard to the filmmaking world?

When I was very young and I found out that my dad was famous, I didn’t really understand. I saw him on TV but it didn’t click in my head. His fame was never a huge thing for me. It was just the norm. Since I was little, my dad has shown me over 500 classic films. He has had me in the theater since I was born introducing me to so many classic films. I loved silent films. I remember Sunrise. It really resonated with me. I remember going home and wanting to make my own silent films. I continued making silent films and then started adding sound. I would be in the living room on my mom’s computer. My dad would stand behind and direct me. He knew exactly what I wanted to portray. I shot one scene with me in a grave with this blanket over me. My dad would tell me to bring myself up slower in the frame and I just remember little snippets like that of my dad helping me create these film moments. He would always be impressed when I showed him my work. I was only 8. As an only child, I had so much time on my hands to dive into my film mind.