More local flavor for 'Silver Linings Playbook'

Too much sauce: Anne Cappelletti said cursing in "Silver Linings Playbook" was not to her taste.
Too much sauce: Anne Cappelletti said cursing in "Silver Linings Playbook" was not to her taste. (   JOSEPH KACZMAREK)
Posted: February 24, 2013

The last time Anne Cappelletti handicapped national awards, she was certain her son John wasn't going to win the 1973 Heisman Trophy.

"Bill Lyon was at our house the night before," Cappelletti, 86, recalled Friday, referring to the former Inquirer columnist. "I said, 'Bill, what do you think?' He said, 'He doesn't have a chance.' "

John Cappelletti, of course, did win the Heisman - "We were shocked," said his mother - and the Penn State back's stirring acceptance speech about a younger brother dying of leukemia resulted in the family's first brush with Hollywood, the 1977 made-for-TV film Something for Joey.

Now, 40 years later, Cappelletti is equally pessimistic when asked to rate the Academy Award chances Sunday of best-picture nominee Silver Linings Playbook, parts of which were filmed on her Upper Darby block and in which she, reluctantly, played a small part.

"I don't think it's going to get it," she said. "I thought it was great. But the cursing was terrible. Too much."

Director David O. Russell asked Cappelletti to appear in the film after she cooked a homemade Italian meal for him and most of the cast and crew that, for nearly three months last year, were stationed on Madison Avenue in the Highland Park neighborhood where she and her late husband raised their family.

During her scene, she's among neighbors gathered on the sidewalk when Bradley Cooper's character, followed by his frantic movie parents, Jacki Weaver and Robert De Niro, runs from the house two doors from Cappelletti's.

"I heard Robert De Niro curse twice while I was standing there," she said. "I told the director, 'Wait a minute. I really don't want to be in this movie.' I was in Faith magazine stating that I don't go to movies with cursing. I thought if people see me in this movie and hear all this cursing, how will it look? They'll think I'm an idiot.

"But he said, 'We want you in it.' So I have a small part. You can just about see me, thank God. John hasn't seen it yet. I told him it was good but don't take the kids. Too much cursing."

Nonetheless, Cappelletti will be watching the Oscars with her niece. She befriended many of the actors and crew, and the bond grew after she served them homemade spaghetti, braciola, meatballs, sausage, salad, bread, two icebox cakes, and six bottles of wine.

"My neighbor across the street loves my homemades. She told someone, and the director asked if I'd do it for them," she said.

But while De Niro and Cooper posed for pictures and kidded often with her, they didn't show up.

"They claim they didn't know about it," she said. "I can't believe nobody told those two that they were going to the Cappellettis' for dinner. The director thought maybe they thought a lot of neighbors would be in the house, and they didn't want that.

"But I still like Bradley. He had his arm around me, and the kids wanted to know what he said. I said he asked how old I was, and I told him 70. My son said, 'You lied. You taught us not to lie.' I said, 'What chance would I have with Bradley Cooper if I said 86?' "

The spaghetti was such a hit that Russell borrowed for his film her term for the pasta she's been making since she was a girl in South Philadelphia, "homemades."

The whole episode was far different from what she experienced during "our movie," the poignant Something for Joey.

"I was out in Hollywood when they made our movie," she said. "We were there a week, met Mary Tyler Moore, Betty White, Ed Asner. It was wonderful. That was a great movie. No cursing."


Contact Frank Fitzpatrick at 215-854-5068, ffitzpatrick@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @philafitz. Read his blog, "Giving 'Em Fitz," at www.philly.com/fitz

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