Pete Davidson stars in the semi-autobiographical movie, out on digital June 12

By Ale Russian
June 05, 2020 10:25 AM
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Pete Davidson went through a cathartic experience while writing and filming the semi-autobiographical The King of Staten Island.

The movie, out on digital June 12, follows Scott, a tattoo-obsessed Staten Island resident who is still struggling with the death of his father. The character is loosely based on Davidson, whose own dad Scott died while working as a firefighter in the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York City.

In a new interview with the New York Times, Davidson said he saw the movie as an opportunity to “just really lay it all out there and be able to heal and move on from it, instead of, every day, feeling sorry for myself. Now we can put that in the past.”

Davidson collaborated with director Judd Apatow, who he met after briefly appearing in 2015's Trainwreck. Apatow joined Davidson in the interview and admitted to feeling hesitant over Davidson having to share such personal details.

“Collaborating on this was fraught with the possibility of failure, and I didn’t want to hurt Pete,” Apatow said. “You’d hate to ask Pete to share something so personal and make the worst movie ever. That was scary, but in a way, it was the motor behind the whole thing: Can we figure out how to be funny and authentic and explore these issues?”

"It was really hard because it’s stuff I would share with my therapist," Davidson added. "But Judd really cares, and the hard work that he was doing to find out about my life made me feel so comfortable. He was like, [Judd voice] 'I’m going to need pictures of your dad.' I’m like, oh, no."

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In the end, the movie ended up being a love letter to his mom and his upbringing.

"It was really emotional. She was in tears the entire time. But she’s the best," Davidson said. "She’s just like, 'If you need something, I’m here.' Never once has she ever done anything out of character. That was another motivation for me, to make this movie — to give her some sort of a gift, to express myself in a way that I couldn’t show before. That lady’s No. 1. My mom’s definitely a big hero of mine, just like my dad."

In a behind-the-scenes look at the movie previously shared by PEOPLE, Davidson's family and the filmmaking team discussed the emotional journey that led to the finished film, which he co-wrote with director Judd Apatow.

"When you see someone like Pete, you know there's a lot going on but you really don't know what it is," said Apatow in the clip. "I think people are interested in his struggle; they want to know, 'How are you doing? What happened to you?'"

He added: "King of Staten Island is an opportunity for Pete to tell you about himself, and to tell you about his feelings and his journey."

WATCH: The King of Staten Island: Who Is Pete?

"It was really so hard for him to recover, and I would even say that it's just been recently that he's finding his way and being okay," his mother Amy said of Davidson's devastation.

"The movie is like my love letter to my mom, and trying to end that part of my life," said Davidson. "I feel like we finally got to a place where we could let go a little bit."

The King of Staten Island will be available to rent online on June 12.