Ahead of Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman world premiere opening the 57th New York Film Festival on Friday night, the master filmmaker and his leading cast of screen legends Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci assembled for a NYFF press conference, along with film’s producers Emma Tillinger Koskoff and Jane Rosenthal.
Things we learnt in numbers:
It was a 108 day shoot. There were 117 locations and 309 scenes. Nine cameras were used because of the de-aging technology. Three lenses on each of two cameras used for filming for the de-aging process. Percentage shot on 35mm vs digital: 30%, 70%.
On why it had taken so long to reunite De Niro and Scorsese, the filmmaker said: “Bob and I wanted to work together since we did Casino, which was 1995 and we would check what we were doing…and we never quite connected. When Bob presented the book to me I could see he was very strongly attached to the character…I got Steve Zaillian to come on and write the script about ten years ago I think now. And we talked about Al and Joe being in it.”
De Niro added: “Joe and I would talk about the movie too, and I would talk to Marty and Joe…we went through a long process talking about it, but I’m just happy we all got finally to do it because it did take a long time. The way that Marty was able to do it the way he wanted to do it, we were lucky to have the people to put up the money.”
On getting the budget together Scorsese added: “That was the key, because we couldn’t get the backing for years…and ultimately it was Ted Sarandos. Pablo Helman at Industrial Light & Magic had come up with a solution for the de-aging process that wouldn’t interfere with Bob and Joe and Al talking to each other with helmets on or with tennis balls on their faces. Seriously, I said they’re not going to do it! We made tests a few years ago, but you know it’s a costly experiment, but Ted and everyone at Netflix said they’d go with it and they actually backed the film and financed it and were creatively attuned to us, there was no interference of any kind.
“The point is, it was necessarily an interesting hybrid in a way, how you balance between what a film is and what is viewed at home or in a theatre, and in a theatre, or not in a theatre at all, only at festivals. All of this, we’re now in an extraordinary time of change but when it comes down to it, ultimately I felt and Bob felt. the picture had to be made for ourselves really.”
On remaining close to De Niro, Scorsese revealed: “As you get older, people grow differently at times and you grow separate away from each other, this was not the case, we kept coming back, coming back, we still have a kind of a telepathic way of working together, that goes for Joe too. It’s my first time working with Al finally!”
Pacino said his initially reaction to seeing De Niro de-aged in the test footage was: “He’s such a great actor, wow. He’s Meryl Streep!”
On what De Niro joked when he first saw himself in the de-aged footage: “I could extend my career another 30 years!”
On working with the de-aging technology Scorsese said: “You’re sculpting this whole thing, it’s like living models in a way. Plus the truth of how they’re interpreting. It’s an extraordinary experience.”
Watch the full press conference here:
The Irishman opened the 57th New York Film Festival on Friday 27th September 2019. For more details on the movie head to netflix.com/TheIrishman. The NYFF runs in New York City until 13th October.