In his new black comedy Applesauce (out now on VOD, digital platforms, DVD, and Blu-ray), writer-director Onur Tukel plays a teacher who starts receiving human body parts in the mail after revealing that he once accidentally caused someone to lose a couple of fingers. You can’t make this stuff up! No, seriously, you can’t.
“It’s actually influenced by a true story that happened to a friend of mine in college,” says Tukel. “Twenty years ago, he accidentally severed someone’s finger at a party and for years we’ve been telling the story about what happened. We thought that would be a really great catalyst for starting the movie. So, the film is about, basically, two married couples, and it’s about their relationship, and how it all falls apart after each person reveals the worst thing they’ve ever done.”
Tukel’s Applesauce costars include Dylan Baker (Happiness), Max Casella (Inside Llewyn Davis), Jennifer Prediger (Uncle Kent), and Trieste Kelly Dunn from the TV show Banshee who first encountered Tukel in the less-than-glamorous setting of a Brooklyn laundromat.
“Then, years later, we met at a film festival and got fairly drunk together,” recalls the actress. “And Onur promised he’d write a part for me. And then I’m playing his wife, in this movie, having sex scenes with Onur. [Laughs]”
“There’s really terrific sex scenes,” elaborates Tukel. “Best day of my life, was the day we did the sex scenes.”
Casella didn’t know Tukel beforehand and recalls he wasn’t expecting too much from the Applesauce script after the actor was told he had been offered his part without being required to go through the audition process. “I thought for sure this has got to be a piece of sh–,” says Casella. “And I’m waiting for it to suck and it’s just getting better, and better, and better, and better. I’m laughing. My wife is in the other room: ‘What’s so funny?'”
In both Applesauce and Tukel’s previous film, the vampire comedy Summer of Blood, the director essentially seems to be playing a version himself — even if the characters onscreen are, hopefully, more selfish and self-centered than the auteur. So, how close is Tukel to his onscreen avatars?
“Pretty close,” laughs Dunn.
“Have I done bad things in relationships?” rhetoricizes the filmmaker. “Yes. And I feel bad about that. As I get older, I’m trying to be less selfish. That’s a big thing for me. But I still know that ultimately we’re selfish people. I’m not an actor. I’m just performing my own personality. I’m just playing who I am. Am I a despicable person? Sometimes. But I’m trying not to be.”
“He’s at least despicable and funny,” adds Dunn.
You can see the trailer for Applesauce, below.