Martin Scorsese and Paul Schrader are responsible for some of the most iconic and controversial films of all time, from “Taxi Driver” to “Raging Bull” and “The Last Temptation of Christ,” and now the pair are working together once again for a streaming series about the origins of Christianity. Schrader let the existence of the series slip during a new interview with critic Richard Brody of The New Yorker. The bulk of the interview concerns Schrader’s thoughts on streaming giants like Netflix, a platform Scorsese has wholly embraced thanks to his 10-time Oscar nominee “The Irishman.” When asked if he ever entertained the thought of making a streaming project, Schrader said it’s already in the works.
“Yeah. Well, Scorsese and I are planning something,” the “First Reformed” filmmaker said. ‘And it is . . . it would be a three-year series about the origins of Christianity.”
Schrader then pulled back the curtain on the project by teasing, “It’s based on the Apostles and on the Apocrypha. It’s called ‘The Apostles and Apocrypha.’ Because people sort of know the New Testament, but nobody knows the Apocrypha. And back in the first century, there was no New Testament, there’s just these stories. And some were true, and some weren’t, and some were forgeries.”
When asked by The New Yorker if the series would be “dramatized” in the vein of “The Last Temptation of Christ,” Schrader answered, “Yes.”
Both Scorsese and Schrader currently have new films in various stages of development. Scorsese just started rolling cameras this week on his upcoming Western drama “Killers of the Flower Moon” for Apple. The film reunites the director with his muses Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro. Schrader, meanwhile, will most likely have his latest film, “The Card Counter,” ready to premiere at one of this year’s major festivals. The director’s follow-up project to “First Reformed,” “The Card Counter” stars Oscar Isaac as a gambler who joins forces with a young man to settle a score on a mutual enemy. Scorsese helped Schrader finish the film during quarantine last year.
“I had four major dialogue scenes between my principal characters that I had not shot,” Schrader told the Los Angeles Times. “Then I was able to screen virtually the film for a number of people I respect, like Scorsese, who is the executive producer, like [filmmaker and programmer] Kent Jones and other people. And what I asked them all is, ‘I have four more scenes to shoot. I can rewrite them. What am I missing? What do I need to add? How should I write these four scenes?’”
Scorsese gave Schrader the feedback he needed to finish the scenes. Schrader rewrote them based on the feedback and “realized what was missing,” adding, “I wouldn’t have realized that if I was shooting at the top. I would have only realized that in post. And I would have walked around the room kicking myself in the ass, saying, ‘I wish I had the opportunity to reshoot some scenes.’”
Head over to The New Yorker’s website to read Schrader’s latest interview in its entirety.