The real-life siblings once known as The Naked Brothers Band are back together — and so, too, are the rest of their family.
Polly Draper, creator of that Nickelodeon show and movie, helped her sons Alex and Nat Wolff with their first foray into the entertainment industry. Eight years later, 20-year-old Alex, the rising star behind horror film Hereditary, and 23-year-old Nat, coming off of Netflix’s Death Note, are reuniting on screen for Stella’s Last Weekend, as shown in EW’s exclusive new trailer. It’s a film that also features Draper as writer-director-actor, husband Michael Wolff as theme music composer, and family dog Stella as the title character.
“It was a complete family project — my dog, my husband, my sons, and me,” she says. “So if you don’t like our family, do not see this movie.”
Draper, 63, wanted to develop a movie for her sons as soon as The Naked Brothers Band went off the air in 2010. It was just a matter of scheduling and getting a production budget from financiers who weren’t shelling out money to just any indie film. Those efforts eventually yielded Stella’s Last Weekend, the story of Oliver (Alex), a high school senior mad in love with a girl named Violet (Paulina Singer), and Jack (Nat), Oliver’s older brother who’s still jolted from being shunned by a young love. When Jack comes home to Queens for their ailing dog Stella’s last hoorah, he realizes the love who dropped him is now dating his brother.
We promise the movie is a lot less depressing than that surface-level plot description.
For one, Stella — the real Stella — isn’t dying. Draper and her family took in the canine from a shelter called Rescue Dogs Rock in New York before filming began. Stella had been abandoned by a homeless person in “the bitter cold of winter” and “was gigantically fat.”
“She looked like she might not make it to the filming. She was so old,” Draper remembers. “And then living with the family and being a movie star, she suddenly saw reason to live and lost a bunch of weight and started acting so young and chipper it was a little hard to pretend she was dying at a certain point.”
Stella, FYI, is now an official member of the Draper-Wolff clan.
More lighter moments came from Alex and Nat themselves. While Draper didn’t have to wrangle them together on set, like she had to when they were 10 and 12 on The Naked Brothers Band, her grown boys would riff off one another the way “only brothers on late-night shoots at 3 in the morning can do,” Draper says.
“Nat, when he was about 15, started doing this one character that he called George Walters and then Alex, when he was about 15, started doing a character that he called Nelson, but they never did them together,” Draper recalls. “Then I thought it would be fun if those two characters met because they were both these wacky nerds.” George Walters, an Irish brogue, and Nelson, a nasally geek, live on in Stella’s Last Weekend as Jack and Oliver’s comedic personas.
“Since I am their mother, they like saying things that will shock me,” Draper laughs, “but after all these years, I’ve just become immune.”
It’s this mix of comedy and hardship that offers cinematic food for the soul and something else Draper notes is missing from a lot of films these days: authenticity.
“People always ask me, ‘What would you say this is? Is it a comedy or a drama?” Draper says. “I don’t think that I’ve ever written anything that isn’t both… I always get suspicious with things that don’t have both, especially dramas that don’t have comedy. I just think that both things are vital to understanding life.”
Stella’s Last Weekend will open in theaters on Oct. 12.