LYON, France — Interviewed by his pal Thierry Fremaux a few hours before his tribute at the Lyon Lumiere Film Festival, Martin Scorsese joked around and spoke candidly about everything, from his childhood to his aspirations as an independent filmmaker, his lifelong journey to find his place between the indie world and Hollywood, his upcoming HBO series “Vinyl” and his next project with Robert De Niro, “The Irishman.”
Scorsese confirmed he and De Niro were still aiming to reunite for “The Irishman.” “It’s Steve Zaillian writing and Bob and I are working out the schedule and the financing,” said Scorsese.
Fremaux, who was pitch-perfect in the role of the ace reporter, then asked if financing was still an issue when you’re Scorsese making a film with De Niro. Scorsese said, “If you’re doing well, you can do another film if 1) you agree with the subject matter and 2) if it’s a film that others want. If it’s a film you want to do with a few friends, you have to find a way to do it.”
Scorsese presented a clip of “Vinyl” and said he and Mick Jagger started working on the project in 1998 and initially envisioned it as a feature film rather than a series. “It’s very rock ‘n’ roll. It’s taking place in New York in 1973; there’s a lot of cocaine and great music. The (clip) is actually tamer than the pilot.”
About his next movie “Silence,” Scorsese said he took 10 years to work on the script, but “the legal problems with the chain of titles were so complicated” that the issue was not resolved by the time he finished. “After ‘Hugo,’ it became clear we could make ‘Silence,’ certainly not on the budget of ‘Hugo’ or ‘Wolf of Wall Street,’ but we knew we could get it made,” explained Scorsese.
Fremaux also asked why Scorsese had not yet made a film about Bruce Springsteen, to which Scorsese answered, “Say no more,” with a big smile.
Scorsese drew a round of laughter from the audience when he explained how his love for movies goes back to his childhood as a lonely boy from a middle-class Italian-American family who suffered from asthma. “The doctor said, ‘Don’t let him run, don’t let him laugh, don’t let him go out, don’t let him near trees.’ So I was in my room most of the time and then in the streets — there were no trees on Saint-Elisabeth Street at that time in New York. My parents didn’t know what to do with me, so they took me to the movies a lot.”
Speaking about movies that marked the ’60s, Scorsese mentioned Andy Warhol’s “Sleep.” “I thought, ‘I don’t need to see it, it’s a shot of one man sleeping I’ve seen already.’ But he had discovered a new language; he had a way to twist everything and it was a whole new world,” said Scorsese, who quipped that he didn’t always understand Warhol and was never able to get behind “the soup can,” for instance.
As the festival will screen “Goodfellas,” Scorsese said the movie was “about the allure of that life, the darker side. What’s interesting is that the darker side has a great deal of humor and is very seductive and by some friends and some filmmakers I was brutally reviled for making crime attractive. We were not allowed to go to certain Italian restaurants in New York anymore.”
He added, “The question I have been getting is, ‘Why is criminality so attractive? And that’s what we explore, and it’s the same in ‘The Wolf of Wall Street.'”
Scorsese said he works most of the time from his house and misses hanging out with his old friends. “That’s the biggest stress really, to spend time with my friends.”
The iconic helmer also confided that when he began his career, he thought he would “make it as a Hollywood director,” but he has always had the impulse to be independent, even if he admitted to making several Hollywood movies such as “The Aviator,” “Shutter Island” and “Hugo.” His biggest surprise was getting an Oscar for “The Departed.” “I don’t know what happened… It was not intended to be an Oscar movie. It was a statement on violence and the underworld. I tried to make as truthful a film as I could.”