Ed Burns, we’ve missed you.
With the prolific filmmaker’s latest project, The Fitzgerald Family Christmas, the Long Island native is covering territory he did back when he was just a whippersnapper, with 1995’s indie breakout hit The Brothers McMullen.
Burns has a little bit more money to toss around these days, after starring in mainstream movies (most recently Alex Cross, Man on a Ledge, Friends With Kids) and making an impressive 11 feature films (e.g., Nice Guy Johnny, Sidewalks of New York, No Looking Back).
How and why Burns, 44, decided to go back to his Irish American roots is now lore: His Alex Cross costar, the similarly prolific Tyler Perry, suggested that his original formula worked so well, why not repeat it?
“Thank God he did,” Burns said from New York, where he lives with wife Christy Turlington and their two kids. “He gave me this idea to go back to that world I knew. It felt very easy to tap into. As much as I’ve left that life, I sort of haven’t, I guess.”
While this is not a sequel to McMullen (that is coming, too, eventually), Family Christmas felt close to home. The Entertainment Tonight intern turned Hollywood bigwig still returns to his native Long Island around this time of year.
“We’re really not that dissimilar to the Fitzgeralds,” he said, adding that the holidays were key to the plot.
“Christmas time is when siblings all get together under one roof,” he said. “It’s the time when families make their big announcements. All of the subplots were plausible.”
Burns plays a bachelor who reunites with the brothers and sisters he helped raise when their father abruptly left 20 years before. Mom is still bitter, but Dad wants to finally come home and make things right.
In real life, Burns has only two siblings; his parents are still together (audiences will see a clip of their wedding home video); and his father, retired police offer Edward Burns Sr., is a sweetheart.
“He always kids me: ‘Why do you always make the father such an ---hole in your movies?’ ” Burns relayed, laughing. “Obviously he knows it’s not him. We’re very, very close.”
The movie is out on iTunes and Comcast On Demand starting Wednesday, and in limited South Florida theatrical release Dec. 14.