Martin Scorsese: ‘Desperation led me to working with Netflix’


Martin Scorsese has admitted it was “desperation” that led him to team up with streaming service Netflix for his latest flick, The Irishman.

The filmmaker reunited with Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci for the gangster movie, which saw him working with Al Pacino for the first time, but he told The Hollywood Reporter getting the project off the ground didn’t come easy.

Explaining that traditional studios couldn’t cough up the $140 million budget required for the cutting edge de-ageing technology used in the film, he confessed he turned to Netflix as a last resort.

“The studios just weren’t interested in The Irishman. What they’d make back on something like that, they figured wasn’t enough, particularly because I had to do the CGI,” he said. “De Niro and I hadn’t made a picture since 1995, Casino, and over the years we wanted to make another film. And he comes up with this book that (screenwriter) Eric Roth gave him (I Heard You Paint Houses by Charles Brandt).”

The pair began working on the project in 2009, with Scorsese insisting they had “worked everything out” but just “could not get the financing”.

“Then I got a call from (manager-producer) Rick Yorn, who said, ‘Are you interested in Netflix?’” he remembered. “The main thing for me was creative freedom. The trade-off is that it’s a streamer. I said, ‘But it will be shown in theatres, right?’”

The Irishman had a limited theatrical run in November (2019), which made it eligible for the 2020 Oscars, before arriving on Netflix later that month. However, the director confessed he’d “maybe” have gone ahead with the Netflix deal even if they couldn’t have agreed on a theatrical run.

“It had to be done,” he said.