Star-studded cast brings heart to new film 'Ezra'

It’s been said that 90% of directing is just getting the casting right — and it’s safe to say in his latest film "Ezra," director Tony Goldwyn got it 100% right.

The family dramedy from Bleecker Street stars Bobby Cannavale and Rose Byrne as the parents of a young boy with autism, both fighting to do what’s best for their son. Acting legend Robert De Niro also stars in the film, but it’s newcomer William Fitzgerald who steals the show as the title character.

"If I’m being perfectly honest, I really wanted to make sure that we got Bob De Niro," laughs Cannavale. "And then the search was on to get the right neurodiverse actor to play the part [of Ezra]. And we saw over a hundred kids, and they were wonderful…but we just weren’t finding the right kid. And then we saw this tape, this kid, this late tape came in from New Jersey — right across the river — and we were blown away."

"William’s parents are terrific," adds Byrne. "They were really helpful. I had so many questions, and they were really open and accessible and candid about just details of day-to-day stuff of parenting a child on the spectrum, and what that looks like. And those things that an actor loves, you know?"

Rounding out the star-studded cast are Vera Farmiga, Rainn Wilson, and Whoopi Goldberg — the latter of whom goes back a long way with director (and "Scandal" star) Goldwyn.

"Bobby and I were talking about Whoopi as the perfect person to play his manager," Goldwyn recalls. "And I knew Whoopi from ‘Ghost.’ So, I’ve seen her a lot over the years, and just sent her an email and said, ‘Would you be interested in doing this?’ And she said yes without even reading the script."

"Ezra" opened in theaters nationwide on May 31 — for more information on the film, click here.