ABOVE: James Gandolfini and Kristen Stewart in Welcome to the Rileys. BELOW: James Gandolfini and Melissa Leo in Welcome to the Rileys

When James Gandolfini, Melissa Leo and Kristen Stewart came together for director Jake Scott’s directorial debut, Welcome to the Rileys, it created a perfect-audience trifecta. Emmy, Golden Globe and Sag Award winner Gandolfini delivered Sopranos fans; Leo, coming off last year’s Oscar nomination for Frozen River, attracted independent filmgoers; and Stewart—one of Tinseltown’s current It Kids—brought, well, everyone else. The film (which opened October 29) has already garnered a Grand Jury Prize at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

“I think it’s a film, lo and behold, that teens could go to with their parents and have all kinds of things to talk about,” says Leo of Rileys, which features a husband and wife (Gandolfini and Leo) deeply wounded after their daughter is killed. Stewart plays a wayward teen stripper who the husband takes in on a business trip to New Orleans.

“I thought the script was different from a lot of stuff that I’ve read,” says Gandolfini, who got his film beginnings in True Romance, directed by Jake Scott’s uncle, Tony Scott. (Oscar-nominated director Ridley Scott is Jake’s father.) “Part of what attracted me to [Rileys] was [Jake] was doing something very different from what Ridley and Tony would do, and it was a choice that really surprised me. It showed a lot of balls on his part.”

Stewart also proved her mettle. “To Kristen’s credit, there are a lot of movies she could have done, and she chose this one,” says Gandolfini. “This is a pretty big leap for her, and I think she did an incredible job.”

NYC Favorites

  • James Gandolfini: “There’s a restaurant called Piccolo Angelo that I like going to with my kid. Just Tribeca, the old streets, wandering around at night—I love that place.” 621 Hudson St., 212-229-9177
  • Melissa Leo: “[When I'm not here I miss being] able to get anything you want to eat at almost any hour of the day—[from] your worst hamburger coated in cheese and sloppy mushrooms and onions [to] a healthy vegan whatever.” 
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