Why Alessandro Nivola and Emily Mortimer Are 'Green with Envy' Over Their Kids' Next Big Movie Gig

"They've upgraded their parents to Adam Driver and Greta Gerwig," Alessandro Nivola jokes to PEOPLE about son Sam and daughter May acting in Noah Baumbach's new film

Emily Mortimer, Samuel John Nivola, May Rose Nivola and Alessandro Nivola on the blue carpet at the 2021 US Open, Friday, Sep. 10, 2021 in Flushing, NY.
Photo: Allison Joseph/USTA

Alessandro Nivola's kids just scored some enviable acting roles.

The Many Saints of Newark actor, 49, shares two children with his actress wife Emily Mortimer, and the siblings are following in their parents' Hollywood footsteps in a major way.

Sam, 18 later this month, and 11-year-old May Rose will appear in Marriage Story writer/director Noah Baumbach's upcoming film White Noise, playing the children of Adam Driver and Greta Gerwig's characters.

"It definitely wasn't something we were encouraging," Nivola tells PEOPLE at the US Open in New York City on Friday about his son and daughter pursuing acting.

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He explains, "Noah went to their school when he was looking to cast the kids for his film. He called up the school and asked who they had, and they offered up a handful of people that they thought were talented, and then he got excited about them."

"At that point it felt cruel to tell them they couldn't do it because it was such a high-class project," Nivola continues. "Not only are they doing this project that's made me and my wife green with envy, but they've upgraded their parents to Adam Driver and Greta Gerwig!"

So did Sam and May come to Mom and Dad for acting tips? "No way," says Nivola with a laugh. "They never come to me for advice for anything. They haven't even asked me once to read through a scene with them," he adds.

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The family of four enjoyed the tennis match at Arthur Ashe Stadium in Queens Friday, with Nivola telling PEOPLE that the sport is something they all bond over — even if he is typically the most competitive when they play together.

Tennis itself has seen a boost in popularity of late: 4 million new recreational players picked up the sport during the pandemic, according to the U.S. Tennis Association.

"For me, it's always been the psychological battle that has been the most fascinating," Nivola shares of his passion for tennis. "I love watching how different personalities of these different players handle those kinds of pressure points. The whole way that the scoring system works in tennis, it's designed to make certain points more important than others. There's certain moments in a match where the pressure builds to that particular moment, and it's how you perform in that moment that counts."

"It's so similar to acting in a movie," he explains, "where you know there are certain scenes that are crucial to get the emotion across in order for the story to make sense and the arc of your character. If you're not able to deliver in those key moments, then the whole performance is wasted. It feels like a real parallel to the game."

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