Martin Scorsese’s gangster drama “The Irishman” will finally be hitting select theaters and Netflix in the fall after a lengthy post-production period that Scorsese is still in the middle of due to the movie’s extensive visual effects. Steven Zaillian’s script for “The Irishman,” based on Charles Brandt’s novel “I Heard You Paint Houses,” tells the story of Frank Sheeran, a World War II veteran who became a hitman for the mob and played a role in Jimmy Hoffa’s disappearance. Robert De Niro is playing Sheeran across decades, with Scorsese using VFX to de-age the actor to appear up to 30 years younger. The VFX are also being applied to Al Pacino, who stars as Hoffa.
During a recent appearance on A24’s “A Bigger Canvas” podcast, Scorsese admitted to “The Souvenir” director Joanna Hogg that the VFX required to de-age the actors continues to worry him. De Niro’s present day appearance and his de-aged look will be mixed up throughout the movie (it sounds like Zaillian’s script is not told chronologically and mixes scenes of an older Sheeran reflecting on his younger self), which means viewers will be given numerous opportunities to compare De Niro’s two faces throughout the runtime. For this reason, Scorsese is adamant that every inch of the de-aged faces look realistic.
“Why I’m concerned, we’re all concerned is that we’re so used to watching them as the older faces,” Scorsese said. “When we put them all together, it cuts back and forth….Now, it’s real. Now, I’m seeing it. Now, certain shots need more work on the eyes, need more work on why these exactly the same eyes from the plate shot, but the wrinkles and things have changed. Does it change the eyes at all? If that’s the case, what was in the eyes that I liked? Was it intensity? Was it gravitas? Was it threat?”
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Scorsese doesn’t want to lose any of De Niro’s intensity when using VFX to make his physical appearance look decades younger, which seems to be the main reason post-production continues to be needed on the movie. Netflix has not announced a specific release date for “The Irishman” yet outside of confirming in the movie’s first trailer that it will open in theaters and on the streaming platform sometime in fall 2019.