Time spins in reverse for De Niro, Pacino and Pesci
‘The Irishman’ is Netflix’s biggest feature film gamble and the most expensive film of Martin Scorsese’s career
After years of whispers and rumours and a decade-long attempt to bring it to screen, Martin Scorsese’s long-awaited Netflix feature debut, The Irishman, will have its premier at the New York Film Festival on September 27. Starring Robert de Niro (in his ninth Scorsese film), Al Pacino (in his first) and Joe Pesci (who was coaxed out of retirement to reunite with Scorsese and De Niro after turning down the part a reported 50 times), it’s Netflix’s biggest feature-film gamble and a risky project for its 76-year-old director.
Scorsese returns to his native New York with the story of the assassination of legendary union leader Jimmy Hoffa (Pacino) who disappeared in 1975 and was declared dead in 1982. Expectations for the film have been high since the release of on-set footage and trailers that give some indication of the look and feel of the film – and the use of “ageing” technology that will reimagine its actors as their younger selves.
Based on the book I Heard You Paint Houses by Charles Brandt and adapted by Oscar-winning screenwriter Steven Zaillian, the project was first mooted in 2008. The film eventually landed at Paramount where it was given the green light in 2016, only to have its funding withdrawn the following year after the initial budget of $100m ballooned to $125m. The budget is now rumoured to be $175m, making it the most expensive film of Scorsese’s career and the most expensive film that Netflix has yet commissioned..