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Jack Nicholson Rewrote ‘Departed’ Scene to Make It More Twisted, but It Didn’t Get Used

Nicholson's rewrite left Matt Damon near speechless: "I'm like, 'Jesus.'"

THE DEPARTED, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, 2006, ©Warner Bros./courtesy Everett Collection

“The Departed”

©Warner Bros/Courtesy Everett Collection

One of the most memorable lines in Martin Scorsese’s “The Departed” arrives early. Jack Nicholson’s mob boss Frank Costello is lecturing young Colin Sullivan when Scorsese cuts to one of Costello’s murders. Costello shoots a woman from behind on a beach. “She fell funny,” the mob boss tells his partner, played by Ray Winstone. It’s a twisted line that could have been even more twisted had Scorsese approved a surprise Nicholson rewrite of the cutaway scene. Matt Damon joined Marc Maron’s “WTF” podcast this week and revealed Nicholson’s plan to extend the brief sequence.

“The scene was one-eighth of a page. It said, ‘Costello executes a man kneeling in the marsh.’ That’s all it said,” Damon said (via Uproxx). “Jack was so excited and said [to me], ‘Wait until you hear what I did.’ He goes, ‘Well, it was an eighth of a page,’ and he goes, ‘I’ve seen that before, so what I did is I made it a woman…and I put Ray [Winstone] in the scene with me.'”

Damon continued, “[Nicholson] goes, ‘We’re gonna keep in this same shot, I’m not gonna add any time or money to the schedule. But I shoot her in the back of the head, and she falls over. Now, you could end the scene there, but if you keep the camera rolling, I turn to Ray and I say, “Geez, she fell funny.” Now, that’s a very sinister line. It suggests that I’ve done this before. There’s a way that people fall. Now you could end the scene there, but if you keep the camera rolling, Ray reveals an axe that he’s holding behind his back. He’s gonna chop her up. So Ray starts to step forward…Now you could end the scene there, but if you leave the camera rolling, I say, “Wait, I think I wanna fuck her again.” Now that’s a very sinister line.'”

“I’m like, ‘Jesus,'” Damon said about his reaction to Nicholson’s rewrite, but it did not stop there. “[Nicholson continued], ‘You could end the scene there, but if you keep the camera rolling, Ray gives me a look and after a long pause, I go, “Ahhhhh!” Like I’ve got him. Now, you could keep the camera rolling, Ray says to me, “Francis, you really ought to see somebody.”‘”

It appears only part of Nicholson’s rewrite made the cut in the movie, but the scene remains a quick cutaway beat. “The Departed” is now available to stream on Netflix and HBO Max.

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