Actor-filmmaker John Turturro made some canny choices in casting for his new comedy Fading Gigolo, in which he plays a hapless New Yorker whose friend suggests that he might have a new career as a male prostitute. In addition to giving the film his own offbeat performance, he surrounds himself with terrific actors.

Woody Allen and John Turturro in Fading GigoloWoody Allen and John Turturro in 'Fading Gigolo'

Some of his choices have raised eyebrows: did he put Sharon Stone, Sofia Vergara and Vanessa Paradis in his movie simply so he could perform intimate scenes with them? If so, there's a long history of actor-filmmakers giving themselves roles opposite beautiful women, from Warren Beatty to Woody Allen.

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And of course Allen himself was Turturro's most inspired casting choice. A filmmaker known for making similarly intelligent comedy-dramas, Allen often uses New York City as a character in his films. It's hard to imagine movies like Annie Hall taking place anywhere else. And of course he's nodded to his hometown in the titles for classics like Manhattan, Broadway Danny Rose, Manhattan Murder Mystery and Bullets Over Broadway. 

Indeed, Turturro developed the Fading Gigolo screenplay with input from Allen. "He sent me these voluminous emails," Turturro says. "Woody would tell me, 'I hate this ... I hate this ... I hate that ... I like this.' He saw that I could take his criticism."

And he's already thinking about his next project, which may be about an ageing New York jazz band that never made it. He has approached Allen and Clint Eastwood about roles, and he's considering another iconic New Yorker, Martin Scorsese, as well.