Martin Scorsese recalls Robert De Niro’s blunt response when he tried to cast him in The Departed
Martin Scorsese has recalled Robert De Niro’s blunt response when he asked about casting him in The Departed.
The filmmaker and actor have collaborated on 10 films, including Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, and the forthcoming crime epic Killers of the Flower Moon.
Scorsese and De Niro once went 24 years without working together on a feature, between 1995’s Casino and 2019’s The Irishman. De Niro did, however, star in Scorsese’s 2015 comedy short The Audition.
In a new interview with Deadline, Scorsese said that De Niro had, in fact, turned him down multiple times in those intervening years, including roles in the period drama Gangs of New York (2002) and crime thriller The Departed (2006).
“We talked to Bob about [starring in The Departed], but he didn’t want to do it,” the filmmaker said. “So, with Bob, after Casino we stopped for a while and I did Kundun, and Bringing Out the Dead. And then Gangs of New York. We always checked in, on that and everything else.
“He wanted me to do Analyze This, and I said, ‘We already did it. It was Goodfellas.’ I talked to him about other projects, and at one point he said, ‘You know the kind of stuff I like to do with you.’ I said, ‘OK.’ That became The Irishman, and it took nine years. We were always looking. ‘What about The Departed?’ ‘Nah, I don’t wanna do that.’ ‘OK.’”
Released in 1999 and directed by Harold Ramis, Analyze This saw De Niro play a mobster who enters therapy.
Speaking about De Niro’s decision to turn down Gangs of New York, Scorsese described their interaction as a “check-in”.
“That was just a check-in,” he recalled. “Literally, [De Niro] said, ‘What are you doing?’ ‘I’m doing this. You interested?’ ‘Nah.’ ‘OK.’
“We always talked about that kind of thing, because he is the only one around who knows where I came from and who I am, from that period of time when we were 15 or 16 years old. He knows that part of New York.”
Killers of the Flower Moon is released in cinemas in October.