Written and directed by Geremy Jasper, Patti Cake$ tells the story of aspiring Jersey rapper Patricia Dombrowski (Danielle Macdonald), a.k.a. Patti Cake$, as she defies all odds on the road to stardom. The award-winning film includes supporting actors Bridget Everett and Cathy Moriarty and premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.
Danielle Macdonald is an Australian actress who has appeared in the TNT series Trust Me (2009) and films such as Every Secret Thing (2014) alongside Dakota Fanning, Diane Lane and Elizabeth Banks. She currently stars as a burgeoning rapper in Geremy Jasper’s film Patti Cake$ (2017).
Academy Award nominated actor Cathy Moriarty has been in film for nearly 40 years. Having grown up in The Bronx, Moriarty went on to appear in hits such as Raging Bull (1980), The Bounty Hunter (2010) and her newest film Patti Cake$ (2017).
From Hillsdale New Jersey, Geremy Jasper is an up-and-coming filmmaker and the former frontman of popular indie rock band The Fever. His award-winning debut feature film Patti Cake$, starring Danielle Macdonald, releases in theaters this summer.
In the debut film from Geremy Jasper, up-and-coming actor Danielle Macdonald stars in the titular role of Patti Cake$, a.k.a. Killa P, given name Patricia Dombrowski. Patti lives in a dead-end New Jersey town and dreams of becoming a rapper, though she’s stuck working at a dive bar where her single mother (Bridget Everett) goes to take shots and sing forlorn karaoke. The future looks admittedly bleak, but Patti has talent—her sharp lyrics win her a rap battle against a local who calls her “Dumbo” for her plus-size frame—and a misfit team begins to form around her.
Based on Jasper’s own experience growing up in Jersey, Patti Cake$ blends a reality of small-town claustrophobia and economic woes with big-dream idealism. The film was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, and Macdonald’s stunning performance has met with wide critical acclaim. Born and raised in Australia, Macdonald mastered a New Jersey accent and learned to rap in preparation for the film, but makes both look effortless.
Hollywood virtuoso Cathy Moriarty (Raging Bull, The Bounty Hunter) portrays Patti’s doting, wheelchair-bound grandmother in the film, and loves Macdonald just as much in real life. The two discuss Macdonald’s rap education, Jasper’s cinematic vision, and the making of the film, which stretched over three years from rehearsing at Sundance Labs to its current wide release.
Cathy Moriarty: I’m Cathy. I play Nana, your grandmother. You are my little angel, my superstar forever and ever and ever. I adore you. I love you. You know all of that. What’s going on? Are you excited?
Danielle Macdonald: Yeah.
CM: Are you overwhelmed?
CM: Are you exhausted?
CM: You got a lot on your plate, kiddo.
DM: All in a good way.
CM: The response to this movie is freaking overwhelming, to the point that I have heart palpitations myself. You are an amazing talent. You’re genuine, kind, beautiful and all of that stuff.
DM: Cathy, stop.
CM: Okay, I’m not going to embarrass you anymore. When did you first get involved in acting?
“I practiced rapping so much, just trying out
different songs, different styles,
finding out what I was best at and then
what I wasn’t necessarily great at.”
— Danielle Macdonald
DM: I did singing, acting and dancing, but I was rubbish at the singing. I used to hide in the back of the choir. I can make my voice match other people’s, but I could never sing solo.
CM: But you could carry a note, obviously.
DM: Yeah, it’s the moment that I have to go by myself that everything just goes off.
CM: Where did you learn how to rap?
DM: I learned for the movie. I practiced a lot. Geremy [Jasper, the director] would send me songs, and I would learn them all. It was really just a process of elimination. It’s funny because I went back over all of the raps I ever did, from the first all the way through to production, and it was horrifying to hear everything over again. I realized that I’ve actually come quite a long way. You don’t realize it until you’re just doing it over and over and over again.