After a rousing tribute last evening at the Lumiere Fest here in Lyon, Martin Scorsese sat down with the press today to provide further insight into his work – from why his filmography is dominated by male characters to his love for the Rolling Stones. With diversity and gender equality such hot-button topics right now, Scorsese reminds us that his female-driven films are sometimes simply overshadowed in the public mind by groundbreakers like Taxi Driver and Raging Bull.
“It just happens that the stories I’ve made over the years have centered on male characters,” he conceded, but then noted that more women than men have been nominated for Oscars via his films. “There must be 11 or 12 (actress nominees), so there must be something” to it, he laughed.
There are actually 10 individual women who have been nominated with two wins out of those. On the men’s side, there are 12 nominations of which three were winners. But, Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and Leonardo DiCaprio are all multiple nominees, contrary to the ladies of Scorsese’s oeuvre. His point was well taken.
Scorsese seemed particularly fond of Ellen Burstyn’s Oscar win for 1974’s Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore and Cate Blanchett’s laureled supporting turn in 2004’s The Aviator. Regarding one of his films that has several strong female roles, 1993’s The Age Of Innocence, he noted the source material was written by a woman but told from the POV of a man. “But the women are the Actors in the story.” He waited a beat before adding that he’s currently working on “a few projects” with female main characters. “It’s never too late to learn, I guess.”
Scorsese is in post-production on his latest directorial effort, the passion project Silence, and mention was made here of The Irishman which would reteam him with De Niro when the pieces come together. He also has Vinyl coming up, a drama series he’s exec producing with Mick Jagger for HBO. Of his predilection for the Rolling Stones, Scorsese pointed to his love of the blues which started at a young age. “The Stones were based in it, performed it, respected it, loved it and still do it. People say they’re so old and still performing. Would you say that to Leadbelly?”
Does his taste in music “reflect a baseness in whatever character I have left?,” he wondered. “We’re human beings, we have base instincts.” Then he added, “When you wake up in the morning, the best thing to do is listen to Bach.”
Away from Lyon, Scorsese is the subject of an exhibition at the Cinémathèque Française in Paris. The director today called it “somewhat overwhelming.” Not solely a film retrospective, it encompasses photographs, storyboards, costumes, posters and personal objects. “It’s 45 years,” Scorsese marveled. “It’s not your work, it’s your life.”