Weekly Wire
Weekly Alibi Rhode Island Scholars

By Devin D. O'Leary

SEPTEMBER 7, 1999:  Beginning this week, audiences will get to see the infamous Farrelly brothers (There's Something About Mary, Dumb & Dumber) in a whole new light. Sweet, nostalgic, poignant -- those aren't exactly words that have been used to describe the boys who put the Dippity in Cameron Diaz's Do. The release of their newest film, Outside Providence, may just change all that.

Based on a novel by Peter Farrelly and drawn loosely from the screenwriting siblings' childhood growing up in Rhode Island, Outside Providence tells a hilarious but surprisingly heartfelt coming-of-age tale. Working-class teen Tim Dunphy (Shawn Hatosy) lives in the depressed industrial backwater of Pawtucket, R.I., and is saddled with a grumpy dad (Alec Baldwin), a three-legged dog (lest you forget entirely that this is a Farrelly film) and a pack of troublesome pals. After crashing into a parked car one drug-addled night, Tim finds himself shipped off to a snooty prep school. Severely outclassed, outnumbered and out of place, Tim nonetheless lands himself an upscale sweetheart (Amy Smart) and manages to do a little growing up.

Weekly Alibi recently chatted with the film's hot young stars Shawn Hatosy (The Faculty, In & Out, Inventing the Abbots) and Amy Smart (Varsity Blues, Starship Troopers, The Last Time I Committed Suicide).

When you guys first heard about this project, did you know it was a Farrelly brothers film?

Amy: Actually, we didn't. It didn't read exactly like a Farrelly brothers film.

Shawn: This was also before There's Something About Mary. They were still the Farrelly brothers, but they weren't the Farrelly brothers that they are now. Their name's on the script, but I just didn't even pay attention.

How did the success of Mary affect your film?

Shawn: Well, then it was, like, "Wow! We're working with the Farrelly brothers!"

Amy: Exactly.

Do you think this film will come as a surprise to people because it's so different from their previous work?

Shawn: It really is. That's what's so nice about it. It's a new kind of venture for them. It just shows that they can be normal -- because they are pretty normal guys. They're real nice and kinda family-oriented.

Where did you guys grow up?

Amy: I grew up in Los Angeles.

Shawn: I'm from Maryland.

Did you guys get to spend a lot of time in Providence?

Amy: Yeah, we shot the whole thing right in Providence.

So you were actually hanging out in the same places that the book was written about.

Amy: Yeah, pretty much.

Shawn: It makes it a lot easier to feel -- I mean if you're gonna do a movie about New York, you should do it in New York. [The Providence area] sort of plays its own character in the movie. And the director, Michael Corrente, knows that area so well. Not only that, but it also helps me with the accent.

Did you get to hang out with the locals?

Amy: Definitely.

Shawn: That was my preparation. That was what they told us to do.

Was that scary, or -- being from back East -- was it familiar to you?

Shawn: It was pretty familiar, and I was with Michael [Corrente]. Michael in that town is like the Godfather, in a way. Because it's such a small city, everybody knows everybody. With him taking me around, it was like the president or the mayor hanging around with me. No, I wasn't threatened at all. But there were some seedy characters.

What about you, Amy? You came from a pretty different locale.

Amy: It was a lot different. In Providence they have fall. And every season in L.A. it's pretty much sunny. It definitely helped being in Providence feeling that whole vibe. Obviously my character wasn't from Providence. But I did have friends who went to boarding school and who helped me with that character a little. It was a fun place to be.

This film takes place a little bit before your time -- the 1970s. How did you latch onto your characters? Do you see growing up in the '70s as wildly different from growing up in the '90s?

Shawn: I don't think so. I see too many similar things going on. As far as relationships with the father and the friends and the girl -- that's all the same. The only thing we deal with that's different is the wardrobe.

Amy: And the music we like anyway, the classic rock. So that wasn't too much of a stretch from our own personalities.

One of the things that always strikes me as strange about being a young actor is that you spend a lot of time on screen dealing with things that the average young person would be dealing with in real life -- coming of age, falling in love. Is that weird?

Shawn: Yeah, but that was the big draw to it. To be able to actually do the things that [Tim] Dunphy does and to portray it to other people. Even for older people, because they can sit back and say, "Wow, I remember what that was like." And then for younger people to see it and say, "Whoa. I get to look forward to that." It is very truthful.

Nowadays, Hollywood seems to want to lump a bunch of hot young actors together in a big ensemble, but this film is more of a showcase for the two of you.

Amy: This sort of came before all the huge hype of teenage films. I think we were really lucky, because it looks like an independent film. It has a real-life feel to it, as opposed to this over-the-top, wacky, commercial-type movie.

Shawn: Right. And we didn't have anybody telling us the formula of making a teen movie. We didn't have a studio behind us saying, "Well, it's gotta be like this -- that's what the demographic tells us." We got to make an independent film. We didn't have anybody breathing down our necks. Except for the Farrelly brothers.

Have you had a premiere for this film yet?

Amy: No. We're doing one in Rhode Island.

That should be interesting. How do you think the locals will react?

Amy: I think they're gonna love it.

Shawn: Oh, I think they're gonna really love it.

You think they have a decent sense of humor about where they're from?

Shawn: Yeah, they do. ... How could they not?

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