Kieran Culkin has had one busy week: along with winning a 2024 Emmy Award for his devastating work as Roman Roy in the fourth and final season of Succession and further making headlines for his funny "feud" with Pedro Pascal, the actor also had his new film debut at the Sundance Film Festival this past weekend: A Real Pain.
In the upcoming dramedy, Culkin stars as Benji Kaplan, who joins his cousin David— played by The Social Network cast lead Jesse Eisenberg, who also wrote and directed the feature—as they travel to Poland after their grandmother's death to see where they came from and end up joining a Holocaust tour, which pulls in characters played by Jennifer Grey, Kurt Egyiawan (Beasts of No Nation) and Daniel Oreskes (Only Murders in the Building).
The road-trip drama is one of the most-anticipated 2024 movies to come out this year's festival, having been snatched up by Searchlight Picture in a huge $10 million deal, per Variety. But despite that success, Culkin revealed that he did have some difficult making the film: getting notes from his fellow actor and director. As he joked during A Real Pain's Sundance presentation on January 20, per a video from Twitter user @brokebackstan:
Yeah, that was a first for me – doing a scene with somebody [who’s directing]. It felt like, you know, there’s a pretty good rapport right away. But then, right after the first scene, he’ll be like, ‘Cut’ and start giving me notes. And my first thought was like, ‘Bitch, I’ve got notes for you, too.’ I don’t want to be noted by an actor. So that was an adjustment.
In the clip, you can hear not only the screening audience cracking up at Culkin's quips, but also Eisenberg himself:
The 2024 film is not the directorial debut of the Oscar-nominated actor—he also made the cringe-y yet captivating comedy When You Finish Saving the World, which also debuted at Sundance back in 2022. Along with A Real Pain, Eisenberg has a second acting project premiering at this year's Sundance, the absurdist Bigfoot comedy Sasquatch Sunset, co-starring Riley Keough and Nathan Zellner.
The movie is the first collaboration between Eisenberg and Culkin, the latter of whom recently revealed to TheWrap while at Sundance that he initially tried to pull out of the film because he wanted to "be home with the kids," but it was the humor of Eisenberg's script that pulled him back to the project:
I did try to pull out of the film. I had just finished a long job…something you may have heard of, it was called 'SUCK-cession'...I remember thinking, ‘Why am I doing this? Why am I going for five weeks?’ I just wanted to be home with the kids, and just have time and wanted a reason to say no. So I re-read the script and just started laughing my ass off. I went to my wife and said, ‘Sorry, honey, I think we’re going to have to go to Poland and…work…’
Luckily, Culkin managed to fit in the film before he gets busy trying to add even more kids to his family's roster: he jokingly announced to his wife during his Emmy's acceptance speech that he wants more children. We're glad he did—we're going to keep a look out on the old 2024 movie schedule for when we'll be able to see Kieran Culkin and Jesse Eisenberg onscreen together in A Real Pain.