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‘The Irishman’: 9 Things You Must Know About Martin Scorsese’s $100 Million ‘Goodfellas’ Reunion

Scorsese's return to the gangster genre after two decades is one of the most highly anticipated films currently in development.

Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro

Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro

Chelsea Lauren/Variety/REX/Shutterstock

Martin Scorsese’s “Silence” may have been his 28-year-old passion project, but it was mostly ignored by audiences, grossing only $7 million in the U.S. opposite a $40 million budget. Something tells us the same fate won’t meet the director’s next project, which carries an even bigger budget and bigger stars.

READ MORE: Why Martin Scorsese’s Netflix Deal Is The Future of Cinema (And That’s OK)

The Irishman” is gearing up for production this summer, and it brings Scorsese back to the genre he helped define in the modern era and reunites him with some of the actors he helped make iconic. Anticipation is sky high (and warranted, given everything we know about the movie). Here are the 9 most essential bits of information you need to know:

1. The Movie is Martin Scorsese’s First Gangster Movie in Over A Decade

Scorsese has built his career on iconic gangster movies, from “Goodfellas” to “Casino,” “Mean Streets” and “The Departed,” so his return to the genre after more than a decade is cause for celebration.

“The Irishman” is based on the 2003 book “I Heard You Paint Houses” by Charles Brandt, which recounts the years Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran spent as a mob hitman. Brandt interviewed Sheeran over a five-year period, during which the mobster confessed to being involved in more than 25 hits for the mob. Sheeran was allegedly involved in the death of legendary mob boss Jimmy Hoffa, who went missing in July 1975 and was never found.

2. But It’s Not Your Classic Martin Scorsese Gangster Movie

Anyone hoping for Scorsese to capture the cinematic energy of “Goodfellas” once again may want to lower their expectations. It appears the filmmaker is going to be making a much more elegiac and sobering gangster movie this time around. “The Irishman” picks up with Sheeran as an older man as he looks back on the hits that defined his mob career.

“The people are also older in ‘The Irishman,’ it’s certainly more about looking back, a retrospective so to speak of a man’s life and the choices that he’s had to make,” Scorsese told The Independent in May.

As to whether the movie follows in the tradition of “Goodfellas”? He told the outlet, “I think this is different, I think it is. I admit that there are – you know, ‘Goodfellas’ and ‘Casino‘ have a certain style that I created for them – it’s on the page in the script actually…The style of the picture, the cuts, the freeze-frames, all of this was planned way in advance, but here it’s a little different.”

Casino - 1995 Martin Scorsese Robert De Niro

Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro, “Casino”


3. Scorsese is Working With Robert De Niro for the First Time in 22 Years

Scorsese and Robert De Niro’s careers are intertwined after making eight movies together, including “Taxi Driver,” “Raging Bull” and “The King of Comedy.” But the duo haven’t made a movie together since “Casino,” which was released 22 years ago in November 1995. “The Irishman” will mark their ninth collaboration.

While Scorsese’s career in the two decades since has remained strong, De Niro hasn’t really had a critically acclaimed lead dramatic role in several years. He earned a Best Supporting Actor nomination for “Silver Linings Playbook,” but reuniting with Scorsese is just what his big screen career needs most right now.

READ MORE: How Martin Scorsese Will Save Filmmaking From Extinction

4. Joe Pesci Is Coming Out of Retirement For a “Goodfellas” Reunion

The supporting cast for “The Irishman” is truly an embarrassment of riches: Al Pacino, Harvey Keitel, Ray Romano and Bobby Cannavale. But arguably the most anticipated bit of casting is Joe Pesci, who has only had two credits to his name this century: A cameo in De Niro’s 2006 CIA drama “The Good Shepherd” and a lead role in Taylor Hackford’s 2010 flop “Love Ranch.” Prior to 2006, Pesci hadn’t starred in a single movie since 1998’s “Lethal Weapon 4.” The semi-retired actor is officially coming back to the big screen for a “Goodfellas” reunion with Scorsese and De Niro.

Pesci had been rumored to be joining “The Irishman,” but his casting wasn’t confirmed until earlier this month. He’s reportedly playing Russell Bufalino, a Mafia boss operating out of Pennsylvania who has long been suspected of having a hand in Hoffa’s disappearance. The character means we’ll most likely be seeing Pesci and De Niro in scenes opposite one another.

Scorsese and Pesci have made three movies together. Pesci won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his turn in “Goodfellas.”

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