The Fitzgerald Family Christmas, the latest offering from actor/writer/director Edward Burns, 44, explores themes of forgiveness and redemption in a large family. “I set the film at Christmas because when I sat down to write the screenplay, I only knew that I wanted to tell the story of a big family,” Burns told Uinterview exclusively. “But I didn’t know what my device would be to get seven adult siblings all under one roof. I thought, ‘Maybe it’s a Fourth of July party, maybe it’s Thanksgiving.’ And then, when I sort of stumbled on Christmas, immediately that just made a lot more sense given that the themes I knew I wanted to play with was the importance of family, the importance of forgiveness, redemption.”

Born in Queens, N.Y., and raised on Long Island, Burns first broke onto the scene with the 1995 film The Brothers McMullen which he wrote, acted in and directed. He followed that up with the romantic comedy She’s The One in 1996. He’s also had roles in Saving Private Ryan, Confidence and 27 Dresses. He’s married to supermodel Christy Turlington, 43, with whom he has two children.

Burns’ latest film is the first project he’s worked on in which he drew experiences from his own life. “There’s a scene in the film where I take Tom Guiry, my youngest brother, into Manhattan to sort of look at where my father grew up in Hell’s Kitchen,” Burns told Uinterview. “And that, while I was writing the screenplay, had that exact same conversation with my mother. I thought, ‘Wow, that’s a great thing to pull into this screenplay, to get a sense of a family’s history.’ ”

Fitzgerald Family Christmas is available On Demand now.

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Q: Did you use your family’s Christmas traditions in the movie? - Uinterview

I set the film at Christmas because when I sat down to write the screenplay, I only knew that I wanted to tell the story of a big family. But I didn’t know what my device would be to get seven adult siblings all under one roof. I thought, ‘Maybe it’s a Fourth of July party, maybe it’s Thanksgiving.’ And then, when I sort of stumbled on Christmas, immediately that just made a lot more sense given that the themes I knew I wanted to play with was the importance of family, the importance of forgiveness, redemption. And I thought during the holidays a lot of things come up, you know, the good and the bad, it’s like that’s when you’re going to tell your folks, ‘Hey, I’m going to propose to my girlfriend,' or you tell your family, 'We’re having a baby,' or, 'We’re getting divorced.' There’s a lot of things that, it’s the time for the big family announcement. So I knew that that device would work well. As far as family traditions, the only tradition that we have, that we put into the film, I stole from my wife [Christie Turlington’s] family, which is that all the kids wear the matching pajamas on Christmas Day. That I took from her.

Q: How autobiographical is this story? - Uinterview

It isn’t autobiographical, but it’s the first time that I’ve pulled from any specific moments in my life, which I’ve never done before. Usually I’m drawing from stories that friends have told me or from my community, let’s say The Brothers McMullen or She’s The One, I was pulling from the families I grew up with. And I certainly did a lot of that in this film, because part of the inspiration for telling a story about seven siblings is two of my best friends, one is one of nine and one is one of 12, and I’ve always heard great stories about the dynamics within those massive families, and especially how sometimes the older siblings don’t even know the younger siblings. They both have very different perspectives and relationships on their parents. But there are a number of moments that I pulled from conversations I’ve had with my brother, with my sister, some dramatic, some less dramatic. There’s a scene in the film where I take Tom Guiry, my youngest brother, into Manhattan to sort of look at where my father grew up in Hell’s Kitchen. And that, while I was writing the screenplay, had that exact same conversation with my mother. I thought, 'Wow, that’s a great thing to pull into this screenplay, to get a sense of a family’s history.'