Martin Scorsese Says Frank Sinatra Biopic Won't Happen

Martin Scorsese

Back in 2009, news broke that Martin Scorsese had signed on to direct a biopic about Frank Sinatra, who died in 1998 at age 82 due to a heart attack. Both Phil Alden Robinson (Field of Dreams) and Billy Ray (Hunger Games) had been working on scripts for the film at various times, with Leonardo DiCaprio most recently set to star.

Scorsese had said he hoped to craft a candid portrait of the singer’s life, delving into the political work and mob affiliations that flanked his prolific career so as to avoid what has already been covered. He envisioned the project as a cross between two of his earlier films: Goodfellas (1990) and The Aviator (2004). Prior to DiCaprio, a number of other actors were rumored to be in talks for the project, including Johnny Depp and George Clooney.

Sinatra’s family, however, wasn’t fond of the darker aspects Scorsese chose to include in the script, causing the movie’s production to lag. Now, Scorsese has officially exited the long-brewing project, according to The Toronto Sun. As he told the outlet:

“We can't do it. I think it is finally over. [Sinatra's estate] won't agree to it. Open it up again and I'm there…Certain things are very difficult for a family, and I totally understand. But if they expect me to be doing it, they can't hold back certain things. The problem is that the man was so complex. Everybody is so complex – but Sinatra in particular."

Frank Sinatra in The Man with the Golden Arm

Though a no holds barred approach is understandably worrisome, Scorsese is right in his assertion that anything less would veer down a well trod path. Sinatra has been portrayed in a number of titles across the years, from CBS’ 1992 miniseries, Sinatra, to 2003’s Stealing Sinatra and The Night We Called It Day. Most famously, Ray Liotta played him in Rob Cohen’s The Rat Pack (1998). It wasn’t an entirely flattering depiction — at one point, an enraged Sinatra physically throws Pete Lawford (Angus Macfadyen) out of his home — but it hardly covered the full scope of Sinatra’s life.

Scorsese, in particular, has an extensive history in translating real life to screen (Raging Bull, No Direction Home), and it’s a shame fans may never see his take on Sinatra. Nonetheless, how the world remembers him should ultimately rest in the hands of his family, and they can’t be faulted for wanting to protect his legacy. Perhaps they’ll reopen the door in the future, but for now that chapter is closed.

Scorsese's Silence is currently in theaters.

Source: The Toronto Sun

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