While many films were being delayed during the summer as a result of the pandemic, Pete Davidson and Judd Apatow decided to release “The King of Staten Island” on VOD in June.

“This is kind of about trauma and these types of disasters and first responders so maybe it’s supposed to come out now,” Apatow said. “I know it sounds weird, but I did have a gut feeling like, ‘I think this was destined to land at this moment to help people process some of these emotions.’”

Director and co-writer Apatow and star and co-writer Davidson joined Variety deputy awards and features editor Jenelle Riley in a conversation about the film at Variety‘s Screening Series presented by the all-new Toyota Mirai. The panelists discussed the genesis of the film’s creation, dynamic of the cast and crew and the film’s resonance with audiences.

“The King of Staten Island,” which is loosely based on Davidson’s life, came about naturally following the duo’s first collaboration on Amy Schumer-starring “Trainwreck.”

“You get spoiled when you work with Judd because it’s so much fun,” Davidson said. “When you go on other sets, you have fun but getting able to just riff and fuck around with other comics and just that type of vibe on set is super fun. And also just alleviates a lot of the pressure too.”

Following the partnership, Apatow said he worked with Davidson on assembling the star-studded cast, which includes Marisa Tomei, who plays Davidson’s mother Margie, Maude Apatow, who portrays his sister Claire, and Bill Burr.

“We talked about who he did stand-up with, who he had worked with before,” Apatow said. “And Bill Burr was someone that he mentioned and really looked up to and thought could play that part. When someone says that I really take it seriously because I know that means there’s a deep, emotional connection that will surface on screen.”