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Here’s the Story of Martin Scorsese Breaking Out in Hives Before the 2008 Oscars

Presenting Joel and Ethan Coen with their 2008 Oscar for Best Director was quite uncomfortable for the legendary filmmaker.

Martin Scorsese attends the Museum of Modern Art Film Benefit tribute in his honor, presented by Chanel,, in New YorkMoMA Film Benefit Honoring Martin Scorsese, New York, USA - 19 Nov 2018

Martin Scorsese

Evan Agostini/Invision/AP/REX/Shutterstock

A year after finally winning his first Oscar for Best Director (thank you, “The Departed”), Martin Scorsese returned to the Academy Awards stage in 2008 to present the category at the 80th Academy Awards. The filmmaker handed the prize to Joel and Ethan Coen for “No Country for Old Men,” but he was anything but comfortable standing before his peers. As Scorsese’s “Shutter Island” star Emily Mortimer revealed at the Museum of Modern Art’s annual Film Benefit, presented by Chanel, on November 20, Scorsese broke out in hives hours before the Oscars telecast.

Mortimer met with Scorsese and co-star Leonardo DiCaprio the morning after the Oscars to begin work on “Shutter Island,” their adaptation of Dennis Lehane’s 2003 psychological thriller novel of the same name. The actress told the MoMa audience, which included DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, and Scorsese himself, that she was incredibly nervous to meet with the two men. To break the ice, Mortimer told Scorsese he looked great at the Oscars.

As told by Mortimer, Scorsese responded, “Really? God, that surprises me. I’d come out in hives that morning and smothered myself in hydrocortisone cream to calm it down. Then I got paranoid that the cream would come off on my tuxedo, so I wrapped tape all around my body – over the cream and the hives, under my suit. Hives, then cream, then tape. I didn’t feel in the least bit dashing, but I’m so pleased you thought so.”

Mortimer was one of several former Scorsese collaborators who honored the director at the November 20 MoMA tribute. Other speakers included De Niro, Spike Lee, and DiCaprio, who remembered going to the theater with his father to see “Goodfellas” and being told the gangster drama was the “epitome of modern filmmaking.”

Scorsese is currently in post-production on his Netflix movie “The Irishman,” which is expected to debut in 2019. The director will reunite with DiCaprio in the summer to film their historical murder-mystery “Killers of the Flower Moon.”

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