BFI London Film Festival: The Irishman – Press Conference

The Irishman
The Irishman Press Conference
Attended by Martin Scorsese, Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Emma Tillinger Koskoff and Jane Rosenthal
October 13th 2019

by Alex Plant

Martin Scorsese’s eagerly awaited generations-spanning gangster epic The Irishman was a fitting closing night gala for the 63rd BFI London Film Festival.

In advance of the red carpet event, the legendary director, alongside iconic stars Robert De Niro and Al Pacino, as well as producers Emma Tillinger Koskoff and Jane Rosenthal gathered at London’s May Fair Hotel to discuss the long-gestating film.

They were introduced by BFI London Film Festival Director Tricia Tuttle, who described the experience as “bucket list stuff for a festival director.”

Proceedings were opened by Scorsese and De Niro discussing the genesis of the The Irishman, how it spun out of several other projects the two had planned and how they were conscious of where it would fit with the other work that they had done together. “I was really looking for something with Bob to enrich, more or less, where we had gone in the 70s and the 80s and early 90s.” Scorsese said. “To replicate what we tried to do at the beginning of our careers wouldn’t be enriching in anyway.”

De Niro, who also acted as a producer on The Irishman, first read the book I Hear You Paint Windows, which the film is based upon, as research for another gangster project he and Scorsese were planning. “I had to read this book that I had always been wanting to read, just as research for the character. And after I read it I got together with Marty and I said ‘You gotta look at this, because I think this is what you’re gonna wanna do.’”

Naturally, The Irishman’s use of groundbreaking de-aging technology came up. On the topic of whether they felt it could open up a whole new world of acting, where anyone could be played by anyone, Scorsese said that he simply thought of it as an “evolution of makeup”, with Pacino adding “I don’t really feel that way. As an actor you’re playing a role. A role that, hopefully you’re suited for. It doesn’t matter what you look like.”

Scorsese also further elaborated on his recent controversial statements of how doesn’t think Marvel films are cinema. “The value of a film like a ‘theme park film’, for example Marvel-type pictures, where theaters become amusement parks, it’s not real cinema, it’s something else, and we shouldn’t be invaded by it. And we need the theatre owners to step for that, to allow theaters to show narrative films.”

The Irishman is released in select UK cinemas on November 8th and will be streaming on Netflix from November 27th.

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