‘A Real Pain’ Teaser: Kieran Culkin Annoys Jesse Eisenberg While Tracking Down Their Family Heritage

Kieran Culkin is shedding his Roman Roy persona and swapping it for another annoying family member role: This time, as Jesse Eisenberg’s cousin in semi-autobiographical film “A Real Pain.”

Eisenberg writes, directs, and stars in the feature which debuted at Sundance 2024. The “Social Network” star plays David, who travels with his mismatched cousin Benji (Culkin) to Poland to honor their beloved late grandmother. The adventure takes a turn when the odd-couple’s old tensions resurface against the backdrop of their family history.

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Will Sharpe, “Dirty Dancing” icon Jennifer Grey, Kurt Egyiawan, Liza Sadovy, and Daniel Oreskes also star.

Two-time Oscar winner Emma Stone produces the film, alongside Dave McCary, Ali Herting, Jennifer Semler, and Ewa Puszczyńska.

Writer/director/star Eisenberg told IndieWire while at Sundance that he actually never saw “Succession” before casting Emmy winner Culkin in the role. “My sister said to me, ‘There’s one person who could play this part: Kieran Culkin.’ I finished the script. Talk about a year later, we’re in the position to make an offer to him and I was just praying he would do it,” Eisenberg said.

He described “A Real Pain” as a “buddy comedy” set against the backdrop of a Holocaust tour.

“The movie is trying to balance these two things, trying to balance these big, thematic questions about pain and history and trauma and you know, historical generational trauma, et cetera,” Eisenberg said of his sophomore directorial effort. “But it’s also trying to be this kind of intimate, almost buddy comedy. And so trying to do those two things. So if I have showcased anything as a director, my hope is that it’s showcasing the ability to maybe like combine those two elements. That’s the goal at least.”

The multi-hyphenate actor added of co-star Culkin, “Kieran is not a person who likes to jump out work from project to project. He’s incredibly picky. There was a poll, there was even an article about him trying to drop out of a movie. So we were worried he could do it. It was hard to get him, but he’s so good in the movie. We both are good in the movie but he’s great.”

In fact, Culkin even told Interview magazine that he tried to “get out of” starring in “A Real Pain” to land a break post-“Succession.”

“I don’t want to not do it because it’s such a beautiful script,” Culkin said. “I was finding every reason to not do it. ‘Well, let me reread the script, I’m going to find holes in it.’ Maybe I was in a good mood when I said yes to it. I reread it and it was so wonderful. When I finished it, I went to my wife and I was like, ‘I’m sorry, honey. Fuck, I have to go do this movie.’ It’s just too good.”

“A Real Pain” premieres October 18 in theaters from Searchlight. Check out the teaser below and read the IndieWire review for “A Real Pain” here.

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