Jocelin Donahue talks Hyung Rae Shim’s The Last Godfather

Award winning actress and frequent horror ingénue Jocelin Donahue found herself wrestling with a Korean superstar in her latest film outing. 

Taking a turn to the comic side, she plays a Mafia boss’ daughter in The Last Godfather – the first US film for Korean comedian and filmmaker Hyung Rae Shim. 

A master of the physical comedy of Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Jerry Lewis, Hyung gave Donahue the chance to play to her light side and learn stunt work. 

It was a terrific opportunity and change of pace for her to play an authentic, open hearted woman who, despite her family’s criminal background, brings joy to those around her. Especially to Hyung Rae Shim. 

They make an unusual couple who get to know each other when he’s brought to New Jersey from Korea to train to be the mob boss in a rival family plated by Harvey Keitel. 

Monsters and Critics spoke with Donahue from Los Angeles.

M&C: Had you heard of Hyung Rae Shim?  He is a revelation, a master of the vaudevillian style of physical comedy.

Donahue: I hadn’t until I came in for the audition process and learned who he was and what he meant to Korean culture.  He’s beloved there and getting to work with him was wonderful.  Definitely even through he’s a huge Korean star the humor translates so well, especially the physical stuff.  Americans will appreciate it.

M&C: You have tremendous warmth on the screen and great chemistry with Hyung.

Donahue: I think it was really important for the audience to see the affection she had for him and how amused she was by him.  He was being put down by the Italian Mafiosi! It’s important for her and the audience to feel warmth towards him.  She sees him. 

I got to laugh at him.  Everyone did.  He made it so easy, felt affection fish out of water childlike quality.  Her character is a caretaker and I watched d a lot of Audrey Hepburn films for inspiration for the role.  She is one of those women who is maternal and loving and doesn’t buy her father’s hierarchy of the mafia. She sees him as he is. Definitely it was so nice to work on something light-hearted. 

I’ve done a couple of horror movies and then to do something like this that is so broad and slapstick and watching him, he can do anything, was great. He’s like Jerry Lewis.

M&C: Do you get the chance to vamp it up in films?  

Donahue: I do often get cast as the good girl who is fine with me, even in the horror the girl next door, but luckily the girls I played have an edge or intelligence or resourcefulness.  They have substance.  I’m lucky in that regard, I wouldn’t mind going against type sometime, as a bad girl. This film is great because I got to do comedy. 

M&C: Tell me about working with Jon Polito who plays your father, the mob boss.

Donahue: That was just such a treat working with him.  For this man who is in the Coen Brothers movie to play my father is just wonderful. He’s most generous person; he knew everyone’s name after the first day.  He’s so polite, so giving. 

He comes from theatre background so he’s always on, ready to go when the camera’s on.  And he has a million variations, I learned a lot from him, and from Michael Rispoli and Harvey Keitel.

Donahue will soon be seen in Free Samples with Jesse Eisenberg, Live at Foxes’ Den with Jackson Rathbone and in Mark Webber’s Man Without a Head with Michael Cera.

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