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Marisa Tomei plays the age game

Timing is very important in Hollywood.

Back in the early ‘90s, Billy Crystal was trying to find the right actress to play his wife in the film “Mr. Saturday Night.” The search was taking some time because he not only needed a good actress to play the role but also someone who would look believable both as young and old because the story covered so many years.

One of the actresses who showed up to audition was a then 26-year-old Marisa Tomei.

“I could tell right away that she had the acting skills to do the role but I was just afraid that she was too young for the part,” Billy Crystal tells me during an interview to talk about his upcoming Christmas Day release “Parental Guidance.” “We didn’t cast her. Of course, she goes on to win the Oscar the next year.”

Tomei took home the Best Supporting Actress statue for her work in “My Cousin Vinny.”

Fast forward to last year as Crystal was trying to find the right actress to play his daughter in “Parental Guidance.” A then 47-year-old Tomei shows up for the audition.

“I walked in and asked Billy, ‘Am I told old for the role now?’,” Tomei says. Crystal’s 64 so it would mean if you only go by age, he would have had to be a teen-age father. But, there’s no way Tomei looks like she’s even in her 40s so that really wasn’t a factor and she was cast in the part. It’s a perfect selection because Tomei really looks like she would be the kind of offspring that would happen between a union of Crystal and Bette Midler, who plays his wife in the movie.