In the new movie Danny Collins, Al Pacino plays an aging rock star who receives a letter from John Lennon 40 years after it was sent. Pacino’s eponymous character, whom he said he viewed as the “love child of Rod Stewart and Barry Manilow,” has an epiphany and starts to take stock of his life after reading the letter, which urged Collins to be true to himself. As part of his journey, he goes to New Jersey to try to get to know his grown son (Bobby Cannavale) and his family.
But what about the film’s star-studded cast, including Cannavale and Jennifer Garner, and writer-director Dan Fogelman, making his directorial debut? Have they received any letters that motivated them in their careers?
Garner, who plays Collins’ daughter-in-law and Cannavale’s character’s wife, talked to The Hollywood Reporter about a note that she received from Bill Irwin, who was directing a play at the Roundabout Theater that both she and Kristin Chenoweth auditioned for.
“I was way inexperienced. I had not done anything professionally in New York, and I didn’t get the role. But Bill wrote me a letter and told me how much he enjoyed the process of my audition and that I should keep going,” Garner recalled on the red carpet at Danny Collins’ New York premiere Wednesday night. “I lost the letter in a cab, the night that I got it, because I was taking it somewhere to show someone because I was so thrilled. But the letter itself has always stuck with me, and I’ve always been grateful to him for those words of encouragement.”
Fogelman, meanwhile, received one of his most treasured letters from Pacino after the actor saw Danny Collins for the first time.
“My big thing I cared about was, when Al saw it, what he thought. And Al sees every movie by himself for the first time just in an empty screening room,” the write-director said. “He wrote me a letter, saying it was one of if not the first times he got emotional watching one of his movies. And I kept the letter and it’s literally, like, my house goes on fire, it’s one of the first things I would hypothetically grab.”