Martin Scorsese Wanted To Direct a DiCaprio/De Niro Movie a Long Time Ago

The Big Picture

  • Martin Scorsese has never paired his two historic muses, Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio, together in a feature-length movie until Killers of the Flower Moon.
  • The Audition is a short film that features De Niro, DiCaprio, and Brad Pitt, and serves as a commercial for a casino in Macau.
  • The Departed is one of Scorsese’s most successful films and won four Academy Awards, including Best Director. Mark Wahlberg’s performance was also notable.

In an interview with Deadline, Martin Scorsese was asked why, up until the upcoming Killers of the Flower Moon, he had never paired his two historic muses (Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio) together, only for the cinematic icon to reveal that he had tried to make the exact thing happen for The Departed, along with every other film he made. To date, ever since his debut feature which began life as a student film (a student film starring Harvey Keitel, no less), Scorsese has made a whopping 27 feature films, and that’s not even including some 16 documentaries, as well as several shorts, music videos (including Michael Jackson’s Bad), and episodes of television that cemented his status as one of cinema’s greatest voices. Outside of perhaps Steven Spielberg, there’s hardly a directorial force more instantly recognizable than Scorsese’s. However, it’s hard to picture him achieving the same level of success without his collaborations with De Niro and DiCaprio.

‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ Is Not the First Time the Three Legends Worked Together

Robert De Niro and Leonardo Dicaprio in Killers of the Flower Moon
Image via Apple TV+

Killers of the Flower Moon is set to be Scorsese’s seventh feature film collaboration with DiCaprio and his tenth with De Niro, with fans for decades anticipating the day that these fabled heroes would unite on screen under Scorsese’s filmmaking banner. However, contrary to popular belief, this isn’t the first time the pair have worked together on a Martin Scorsese picture. That honor belongs to The Audition, a 15-minute short film that doubled as a commercial for a big-time casino in Macau.

The short film cost $70m, landing the quartet (did we mention Brad Pitt is in this too?) a jaw-dropping $13m for just two days of work, funded as a means to bypass residential laws that prohibited the advertisement of casinos. It’s a wonderful time just witnessing these screen legends play and ridicule themselves in this quirky meta-comedy, but Killers of the Flower Moon looks to be the project that the fans have been waiting for.

Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro Offer One Another Parts in Most of Their Projects

Robert De Niro as Jimmy Conway in Goodfellas
Image via Warner Bros.

In the interview above, Martin Scorsese revealed that he was keen to secure De Niro for roles in both Gangs of New York and The Departed, presumably for the parts that eventually went to Daniel Day-Lewis and Jack Nicholson respectively (as far as second choices go, that’s not so bad). While De Niro passed on both roles, Scorsese went on to reveal that offering each other parts in the production of their respective movies functioned as a sort of “check-in” with one another. For example, DeNiro pushed Scorsese to take up the Kenneth Lonergan-penned comedy classic Analyze This, but the director found it too similar to Goodfellas. One instance in which this check-in method led to incredible results was when, after being hospitalized for a cocaine overdose and ready to give it all up, De Niro persuaded Scorsese to take on Raging Bull, now known as one of the greatest films of all time.

Even after taking a break upon finishing Casino (which Scorsese calls “the ultimate” in terms of the film they would have wanted to make together) the iconic duo always waited for the perfect project to make together again, even if it took nearly a decade to materialize. That project finally manifested in the form of 2019’s The Irishman, a crime epic that used its slower-paced 209-minute runtime to de-glamorize the world of crime, acting almost as an apologetic reflection for the violence Scorsese and De Niro always seemed to make appear cool in their earlier collaborations. There’s no star that the film would have worked better (or perhaps even at all) with, itself acting as the first collaboration with Scorsese and Al Pacino, another pairing on every fan’s wish list.

RELATED: Every Martin Scorsese Movie, Ranked From Worst to Best

‘The Departed’ Is One of the Most Successful Martin Scorsese Joints of All Time

Leonardo DiCaprio in The Departed
Image via Warner Bros.

While Robert De Niro certainly had his reasons for not jumping on board The Departed, even without his most prolific star, the film was a massive success. A remake of the acclaimed 2002 Hong Kong film Infernal Affairs, the undercover cop drama is the third highest-grossing Scorsese film after The Wolf of Wall Street and Shutter Island (another two Scorsese/DiCaprio collaborations). It also won four of its five Academy Award nominations (Best Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, and Editing), marking Scorsese’s first and only personal Oscar win in spite of a lifetime of producing great works of cinema. Who is the fifth nominee that got snubbed, you ask? None other than Mark Wahlberg for Best Supporting Actor, playing the wise-cracking, tough-as-nails Staff Sergeant Sean Dignam in a role that managed to shine even among Leonardo DiCaprio, Jack Nicholson, and Matt Damon.

It’s only a matter of time before Killers of the Flower Moon drops on Apple TV+ but prior to that, fans will be able to enjoy a global theatrical release of the film on October 20, 2023. Only then will we be able to see how this extremely anticipated collaboration pays off.

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