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Screenwriter Eric Roth Says ‘8 1/2’-Style Spin-Off From Scorsese & De Niro’s ‘The Irishman’ Never Came To Pass

Screenwriter Eric Roth Says '8 1/2'-Style Spin-Off From Scorsese & De Niro's 'The Irishman' Never Came To Pass

Like an arrow straight to the pleasure center of the brain of Scorsese fetishists came the announcement a couple of years back of “The Irishman” (or, as it was known initially, “I Heard You Paint Houses“) a film that would potentially reunite Martin Scorsese with Robert DeNiro, his long-time collaborator, for the first time since 1995’s “Casino,” for a story about real-life hitman Frank ‘The Irishman’ Sheeran, a man allegedly responsible for as many as 25 murders. And more excitingly, the movie was lining up a who’s who of Scorsese and gangster pictures, with Harvey Keitel and Joe Pesci looking to reunite with the helmer, while Al Pacino was said to be involved too, marking the first time he would work with the great filmmaker.

But less well reported at the time was the possibility of a second, connected project, said by DeNiro to be the idea of “Forrest Gump,” “The Insider” and “The Good Shepherd” scribe Eric Roth. The actor told MTV back in April of 2010 that “We have a more ambitious idea, hopefully, to make it a two-part type of film or two films. It’s an idea that came about from Eric Roth to combine these movies using the footage from ‘Paint Houses’ (as the project was still known then) to do another kind of a [film that is] reminiscent of a kind of ‘8 1/2,’ ‘La Dolce Vita,’ [a] certain kind of biographical, semi-biographical type of Hollywood movie — a director and the actor — based on things Marty and I have experienced, and kind of overlapping them.”

Now, we don’t know about you, but we think the idea of a semi-autobiographical film revolving around one of the greatest star/director pairings in cinema history, one that connected with their long-awaited return to the gangster genre, is a pretty irresistible one. But even as Scorsese said recently that he hopes to shoot “The Irishman” “in the next year or so,” word’s been quiet on the second film for a while, and unfortunately, it looks like it may never have gotten past being an idea.

We spoke to Roth ever so briefly, during the press day for his latest film “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close,” and it seems that the project never got beyond initial stages. “There was talk,” Roth said when asked about the spinoff movie, “but nothing at this moment…I was potentially involved, but no.” We suppose it doesn’t rule out the prospect down the line — with “Silence” and “The Snowman” competing for Scorsese’s attention, it could give some time for Roth to work on a script — but the screenwriter didn’t seem particularly positive about the possibility, so we feel like this might have to be one to put to rest, at least in its current form. Ah, well. You can see how Roth’s latest script, “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” turns out when it hits theaters on Christmas Day.

— Additional reporting by Rodrigo Perez

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