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How Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese Assembled Their Legendary ‘The Irishman’ Ensemble

Check out an exclusive featurette about the cast of "The Irishman," which features acting legends all heading into the Oscar race.

(From l to r) During a break in the trial of Jimmy Hoffa, Chuckie O’Brien (Jesse Plemons), Bill Bufalino (Ray Romano), Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro) and Hoffa (Al Pacino) are shocked at the news of JFK’s assassination. © 2019 Netlfix US, LLC. All rights reserved.

“The Irishman”

© 2019 Netlfix US, LLC. All rights reserved.

When Robert De Niro convinced Martin Scorsese to make another movie with him for the first time since 1995’s “Casino,” they agreed to assemble the best possible ensemble for the gangster epic “The Irishman.” At a recent AFI FEST tribute, Scorsese said that Al Pacino was “always something unreachable,” but it was De Niro who connected the two, and knew Pacino could bring a certain grit to the role of Jimmy Hoffa.

“If we were going to put De Niro and Scorsese together, it had to be something special,” producer Jane Rosenthal told IndieWire. “We were going back to this world. What was going to make this different from ‘Goodfellas’ and ‘Casino,’ how different was it going to be for Marty as a director to put in his time and energy, and for De Niro as an actor? For the rest of the band we put in Joe Pesci, Harvey Keitel, and Al Pacino.” (IndieWire recently sat down with De Niro to talk about “The Irishman” and re-teaming with Scorsese.)

Below, IndieWire shares an exclusive Netflix featurette on assembling the film’s glorious ensemble.

“You experiment, you take chances. He is so easy to trust,” Pacino said of Scorsese at the recent Santa Barbara International Film Festival tribute to the lauded director. “He sets the stage for you, like a tightrope walker, Marty is a net. He sets it up, and then he’s there. Things come out of you because he is there. He gets some of the greatest performances to film.” Of “The Irishman,” Pacino also said, “Marty had somehow expressed something about our world and about ourselves that is more than just a story. And that is one of his great gifts.”

“Today, we’re in a world where some acting has to be vigilant,” Scorsese said upon accepting the Kirk Douglas Award for Excellence in Film in Santa Barbara. “Some actually believe that these qualities that we’re talking about can be replaced by algorithms and formulas and business calculations. But please remember this — we’re the only solution. Because there’s no such thing. There’s no substitute for individual participants, as Kirk Douglas knew and expressed in his long film career.”

“The Irishman” is currently in theaters but will soon pop on Netflix November 27. Netflix’s other awards-season contenders this year include “Marriage Story,” “Dolemite Is My Name,” “The King,” and “The Two Popes,” all of which premiered to acclaim throughout the fall festival circuit.

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