Robert De Niro is thankful for streaming services like Netflix because his long-gestating The Irishman mob movie would never have been financed by traditional film studios.
The acting icon is reuniting with his frequent collaborators, director Martin Scorsese and co-stars Joe Pesci and Al Pacino for the biopic, which has been in development since 2008.
The project, about real-life union official-turned-mafia hitman Frank ‘The Irishman’ Sheeran, stalled in 2011 when it was backed by Paramount Pictures, but Netflix officials recently stepped in to produce the film on a reported $100 million (£78 million) budget, and cameras will finally start rolling in September (17), ahead of a release in late 2018.
De Niro admits the high cost of the movie had been a stumbling block for some time, but he’s glad Netflix chiefs were able to put up the money for the ambitious film, which will make full use of modern technology by making its leading stars appear younger by decades so they can age as the story progresses.
“We need the money to do it right and it just wasn’t financeable in another way, in the traditional film way, if you will,” De Niro tells Deadline.com.
“They’re trying to really do it as the best it’s ever been,” he explained of the technological aspects of the shoot. “We’re doing the young stuff first and taking it decade-by-decade so that later the oldest stuff will be closer to our own age. So they’re trying to really make it as good as they can make it, and that’s the goal – that it can be something special that everyone would want to see and see it done as well as it can at this point. I’m excited by it and looking forward to doing it.”
The Irishman, based on author Charles Brandt’s 2004 book I Heard You Paint Houses, isn’t the only project De Niro has in the works for a streaming service. He is also teaming up with his Silver Linings Playbook director David O. Russell for an as-yet-untitled drama series for Amazon, which has already been picked up for two seasons.