Veteran actor Robert De Niro has said that Netflix is the only way financing The Irishman would have been possible. Being the reunion project (the ninth time the two are collaborating) of the critically acclaimed thespian and renowned director Martin Scorsese, the film has been garnering a lot of attention since it was first announced. The movie brings one of the cinema's most iconic actor-director duos back to their gangster-centric narrative films.
Based on the Charles Brandt book I Heard You Paint Houses, The Irishman will tackle the story of real-life narcissistic mobster Frank Sheeran (De Niro) whose reported deathbed confessions included having killed Teamsters leader Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino). He also claimed that he knew significant intel on JFK's assassination. With its decades-long story, it will take advantage of the modern computer graphics technology that would de-age the actors, similar to what Marvel Studios did with Robert Downey Jr. in Captain America: Civil War and Michael Douglass in Ant-Man.
Speaking with Deadline, De Niro got candid about the reason why he thinks that Netflix picking up The Irishman is the only way to have the project move forward. The movie was originally being set-up in Paramount until the popular streaming giant reportedly provided Scorsese a $100 million budget for the long-planned gangster film.
“... 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 continued, providing an update on their filming schedule, which will start this month, and he revealed some interesting details:
“They’re trying to really do it as the best it’s ever been. 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.”
It is no secret that Netflix is doing a huge push for original content with various IP acquisitions and partnerships made over the last several weeks. The company has just struck a multi-year deal with TV producer Shonda Rhimes and has bought Mark Millar’s Millarworld: the comic book company behind successful comics-turned films as Kickass and the Kingsman franchise. A David Letterman comeback talkshow is already in the works, as well as, the anthology The Ballad of Buster Scruggs from the Coen Brothers.
While The Irishman's main pull will be from the De Niro-Scorsese team-up, the full cast sheet is intriguing and exciting as well. Ray Romano, Joe Pesci, and Harvey Keitel have also boarded the project, as well as Pacino who interestingly has not worked with Scorsese before despite numerous attempt to do so.