Married couple Theodore Melfi and Kimberly Quinn both have producer credits in the much-buzzed-about film St. Vincent, opening in theaters October 17. Both also follow a plant-based diet. Here, the two answer questions about eating vegan, as well as about the film, which Melfi wrote and directed, and in which Quinn has a co-starring role.
St. Vincent is being called a “dramedy.” What does that mean?
MELFI: The film is a hybrid, really. It’s a drama with some realistic funny moments. I guess “dramedy” means that the drama is grounded and honest, just as the comedy is.
Bill Murray and Melissa McCarthy—both noted scene-stealers—have roles in the film. What was it like working with them?
MELFI: Working with actors as talented as Bill and Melissa—or Naomi [Watts] and Kim [wife Kimberly Quinn] or Chris O’Dowd, for that matter—is an awe-inspiring process. They’re all collectively so smart and real and funny and truthful that the work is getting everyone on the same page, making the same movie. Bill is the most “in-the-moment” person I’ve ever met. He doesn’t manipulate or push or try; he allows the comedy and the drama to come naturally from within. And so you have to be on your toes, ready to capture whatever he’s going to do at the time. The camera needs to be ready, and the other actors need to be ready, because his inspiration is spontaneous and unpredictable, and it won’t happen again exactly the same way. That’s the genius of Bill. Melissa is very similar. She’s an improv deity and has no boundaries, so the same principle applies: be ready. The difference in St. Vincent is that Melissa is playing a dramatic role. She’s the straight character: a struggling single mom trying to hold it together and forced to leave her kid with Bill Murray—the last person you’d want as a babysitter.
Were you both vegan when you met?
MELFI: No. Kim became vegan before me, and eventually there was just nothing in the fridge for me to eat, so I made the switch as an act of survival. The good news is that I was never a red-meat eater, so it wasn’t hard. I love eating this way, I feel like everything that goes into my body belongs there.
Which of you is the cook in the family? Do you cook together? Any tips for kitchen harmony?
MELFI: I used to cook a lot more than I do now. That’s mostly because I’m working so much and on the road a lot. Kim does a lot more of the cooking now. After 18 years of marriage we’ve finally figured out how to work together in the kitchen: I am the sous chef and handle cleaning and cutting and prepping and supporting, and Kim does the actual stove work. So I’m chopping and prepping for her and cleaning up after her as we go, and by the end we have a great meal and a clean kitchen. This makes us both happy and helps with my OCD issues.
QUINN: What he said is right, although I do miss the cooking he used to do. He had a knack for whipping anything together without a recipe, and it was always delicious! I tend to go in and out of “cooking frenzies” because my schedule is so erratic. But because I’ve had chunks of time that have allowed me to really enjoy cooking, when I am busy, I just go for an old recipe.
What’s your favorite home-cooked meal?
QUINN: When I found [Liddon’s] cookbook, I felt like my life was given back to me! I know that sounds dramatic, but it’s true. It may be how I grew up and the food I ate as a kid, but when this woman gave me back my tuna sandwich, let’s just say, I will forever be grateful. One of my favorites is her tomato cream sauce pasta and her “rolos” for dessert. And then there is her avocado cream pasta—but the enchiladas are to die for!