EXCLUSIVE: Martin Scorsese’s epic 3 1/2-hour-plus The Irishman has been at the forefront of the Oscar conversation since its world premiere at the New York Film Festival in September. It was borne from the 145-page shooting script from Steve Zaillian, the four-time Oscar-nominated screenwriter who won the Academy Award in 1994 for Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List. The mob epic also reteams the writer and director who previously made Gangs of New York.
Zaillian adapted The Irishman from Charles Brandt’s 2004 book I Heard You Paint Houses and is based on Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro), a hitman for Russell Bufalino (Joe Pesci), who gets caught between the interests of Bufalino and union chief Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino).
New digital wizardry from ILM allowed De Niro to portray the mob soldier across the entire second half of the 20th century, as Zaillian’s plot stretches between 1949 and 2000. The scope, the talent and the tech meant “that financing was the biggest challenge,” producer Emma Tillinger Koskoff said onstage at Deadline’s recent The Contenders Los Angeles event. Netflix came in and solved that problem, allowing the pic to move forward.
It’s clearly paying of now: The Irishman has already been nominated for a Golden Globe, and the film has won Best Picture prizes from the National Board of Review and the New York Film Critics Circle. The film had a 27-day theatrical engagement that began November 1 and now is streaming.
Read the full screenplay here.