Martin Scorsese reunites with longtime collaborator De Niro for their 10th film together, “Killers of the Flower Moon.” Promoting the film, Scorsese recalled growing up alongside De Niro, first crossing paths with the actor at age 16, in an interview with the Hindustan Times.
“With Bob De Niro, it’s a formative relationship. It goes back to when we were 16 years old,” Scorsese said. “But we’d lost track of each other. I didn’t know he wanted to act and he didn’t know I started directing.”
The Oscar winner continued, “When we did ‘Mean Streets,’ we were reintroduced to each other by Brian De Palma. By doing ‘Mean Streets’ and ‘Taxi Driver’ together, we found that we were drawn to the same subject matter, same psychological and emotion conflicts in people, in characters, and in ourselves. A certain trust was developed.”
Scorsese added, “I resisted ‘Raging Bull’ for several years for certain reasons, but he really insisted that it’d be good for me. He’s the only one alive now who knows where I come from, as kids, as young people. So the keyword is trust, fearless, and less vanity.”
Scorsese noted that “The Irishman” actor De Niro was “protective” over Scorsese’s career.
“He was very powerful at that time, after he won the Academy Award for ‘The Godfather II.’ But even then, we always had the danger of the studio taking away the film from you,” Scorsese recalled. “No such thing as the final cut for me at that point of time. Inevitably, the actor would comply with the studio. This guy wouldn’t do that, he'[d] stay with you. And so I had that as a power. He was protective of me and the film.”
According to Scorsese, De Niro also prioritizes the quality of the film over his own acting or special treatment.
“He’s concerned about the make-up and how the character looks, but not about beauty and trying to make him look better with special lighting,” Scorsese said. “He says if the camera is on my back and someone else’s face makes it look better, do that.”
Scorsese compared De Niro to Leonardo DiCaprio, saying that he found a “similar fearlessness” in DiCaprio after watching him alongside De Niro in “The Boy’s Life,” and later collaborating with DiCaprio on films like “Wolf of Wall Street” and now “Killers of the Flower Moon,” co-starring De Niro.
“I found that we had a similar kind of sensibility that me and Bob had. We had a similar fearlessness, the will to try things, and ultimately, a very, very strong trust,” Scorsese said of DiCaprio. “We pushed each other to different limits. It’s a gift.”
Scorsese previously told Deadline that De Niro turned down appearing in “Gangs of New York” and “The Departed,” which would have made their collaborations 12 films altogether.
“I didn’t work with Bob for 10 years until we did ‘Goodfellas’; we went off in different directions,” Scorsese said. “Then we made another two, three films. And then, for another 19 years, we didn’t…So, with Bob, after ‘Casino’ we stopped for a while and I did ‘Kundun’ and ‘Bringing Out the Dead.’ And then ‘Gangs of New York.’ We always checked in, on that and everything else.”