Separating Fact From Fiction In King Of Staten Island

Photo: Courtesy of Universal Pictures.
Warning: Major spoilers ahead for King Of Staten Island.
When you hear that a movie is loosely based on a true story, the obvious follow-up question is, "how loose?" The new film, King Of Staten Island is inspired by Pete Davidson's real life. And often it's hard to decipher what's real and what's not in the King Of Staten Island.
Watching the film, it often feels like there are more similarities between the star and his character than differences. Something Davidson is willing to admit. "My character in the movie is probably about 75 percent me,” Davidson, who co-wrote and co-produced the film, said in the movie's official press release. “Maybe more. I can’t really tell.”
The SNL star has always been candid about his life, talking openly about his father, firefighter Scott Davidson, who died while responding to the World Trade Center Attack on September 11. Davidson was seven years old. In the film, Davidson's character Scott, named in honor of his late dad, is also dealing with his firefighter father's death. Scott dad also died when he was 7, but unlike Davidson's father, it was while responding to a hotel fire.
It's why King Of Staten Island director Judd Apatow says Scott, an aspiring tattoo artist, is basically an alternate universe version of Davidson. “In a lot of ways," he said in an official press release, "it’s an imagining of what Pete’s life would have been if he didn’t find comedy and was still in Staten Island in his mid-20s, going nowhere."
So no, Davidson has never robbed a pharmacy, but that grief that Scott is experiencing is very real. “That guy is definitely close to me, like, five years ago,” Davidson told The Washington Post. “All those experiences are definitely real.”
Now, we can't officially rule on whether Staten Island is the only place that New Jersey looks down on or whether Stomp is really the greatest musical of all time, but to better separate the fact from the fiction, we've fact-checked the movie to the best of our ability. So here are a few things from the film we can confirm.

Did King Of Staten Island's Opening Scene Really Happen?

When we first see Scott (Davidson), he's driving without a seatbelt and with his eyes closed. The horrifying moment, which nearly ends with Scott crashing, is based on something Davidson used to really do. "That's true. I used to do that," Davidson, who has been open about his issues with his mental health, said in an interview with CBS Sunday Morning. "That's horrible to say, but yeah, I used to close my eyes on a closed road usually at night and I would drive without a seatbelt."
In an interview with The Washington Post, Davidson said, “I used to think if something bad happened, it was supposed to happen. So I would just test myself and test to see, like, if I belong here.” He admits that this thought process “doesn’t make any sense. It sounds like something an idiot would say. But in that time when I was going through that, it was a regular thing I did.”
"Did" is the key word there. Davidson, who was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, told CBS Sunday Morning that things didn't get better in his life "until I met the right treatments and met the right doctors and did all the work that you need to do to not feel that way."

Does Pete Davidson Really Live With His Mom?

Like Scott, Davidson still lives with his mom. In fact, those who watched SNL At Home got a glimpse of his bachelor pad. Those bits were filmed by his roommate, who also happens to be his mom, Amy Davidson, in his basement apartment on, where else, Staten Island.
For those who might snicker at the star living with his mom, he did buy her the million dollar home they live in. “I’m very proud of my man cave,” he said in an interview with The New York Times. “It’s all I got.”

Does Pete Have A Tattoo For His Dad?

Early on in the film, Scott reveals he has an arm tattoo of the date his father died, which ends up being the butt of his friends' jokes. In real life, Davidson has multiples tattoos in honor of his late dad including one of his badge number "8418" and his fireman's helmet.
While Davidson doesn't appear to have a tattoo of the full date his father passed away, he does have an 11, which he said was a tribute to his dad. He has a tattoo of a Roman numeral nine on his arm, which fans believe is also in tribute to him.

Was Pete Davidson's First Tattoo Kermit The Frog?

In the film, Scott's mom Margie, played by Marisa Tomei, says his first tattoo was of Kermit the Frog smoking a joint. He got it when he was 16. “I don’t remember that episode of Sesame Street,” her boyfriend Ray (Bill Burr) jokes.
IRL Davidson's first ink was a lot more personal. “Probably the first tattoo he got is the most meaningful,” former girlfriend Carly Aquilino, who appears in King of Staten Island, told The New York Post. “It’s his dad’s [FDNY badge] number.”
While some might be freaked out by needles, Davidson, just like his character, finds getting inked to be a therapeutic experience. In an YouTube interview with Charlamagne tha God, Davidson revealed that he first started getting tattoos to cover up his self harm. "I cut my chest," Davidson said. "That's why I started getting tats on my chest, to cover them."
Getting inked became a release for him. "When [I'm] so manic and upset, sometimes that's the only thing that will work for me," he said. But through rehab and therapy, Davidson has been shown other ways to cope, which includes taking cold showers or listening to music.
“Pete has a very deep, physical connection to tattoos,” Apatow said in a the film's press release. “He says getting them calms him down. I learned a lot about tattoos and why people get them. I do not have them. Pete wants me to get some, but I haven’t.” Not yet, at least.

Is Pete Davidson's Mom Dating A Firefighter?

Scott's journey to adulthood comes as his mom also finds herself in a relationship for the first time since her husband died. The idea for Margie to date a firefighter was something Davidson made up for the movie. “Pete’s mom never dated again [following the death of her husband]. That was a central idea of the movie,” Davidson's co-writer and friend, Dave Sirus, told The New York Post.
With Apatow's help, Davidson was able to expand that funny idea into something that would also allow him to delve into the pain that comes with losing a parent so young. "Pete mentioned that he wanted his mom to be in a relationship and to be happy. We started kicking around this idea, what would happen if Pete’s mom started dating a fireman…and how would that affect Pete’s character," Apatow said in a press release. "What would that bring up? There’s nothing funnier than hating your mom’s boyfriend.”

The Truth About Pete's Dad & His Firefighter Friends

Well, this one might be hard to confirm since some of those stories Scott hears about his dad pulling off some “real Tom Cruise shit” while on cocaine aren't exactly legal. However, firefighters that knew Davidson's dad did play a role in the film — literally.
“I’ve known Pete since he was born,” firefighter John Sorrentino, who was friends with Davidson's dad and a consultant on the film, told “At the beginning of last year Pete reached out to several firefighters and said he was making a movie with Judd Apatow and he wanted to meet some of his father’s friends. We met Pete and Judd, the producer Barry Mendel as well as the other writer, David Sirus, and we all went to breakfast in Brooklyn.”
Four or five firefighters who knew Davidson's dad including Sorrentino pop up in the bar scene, which ends with them all singing The Wallflowers' "One Headlight," Davidson and his dad's favorite song. “To be honest seeing it on screen feels really releasing,” Davidson told The Washington Post. “Like, maybe, I could put this part of my life behind me and move forward."
If you or someone you know is considering self-harm, please get help. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

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