Martin Scorsese has told some incredible stories within his films over the years. But sometimes the story of what went on behind the scenes is just as interesting as what happens on the big screen.
Martin Scorsese claims that he personally paid $500,000 of his own money to cover over budget expenses.
The word “f*ck” is said 435 times, including in the narration – 2.4 times per minute on average. The film held the record for the most uses of the word until the release ofSummer of Sam (1999), which also has a reported 435 uses. The recorded was later broken by “The Wolf of Wall Street” which has close to 600 uses.
Gangs of New York
Scorsese ends the film with a shot of the New York skyline which includes the World Trade Center Towers, even though the film was finished after the buildings were destroyed on September 11, 2001. He chose to end on that shot rather than a skyline without the World Trade Center because the movie is supposed to be about the people who built New York, not those who tried to destroy it.
The King of Comedy
Robert De Niro used anti-Semitic remarks to anger Jerry Lewis while filming the scene where Rupert Pupkin crashes Jerry Langford’s country home. Lewis, who had never worked with method actors, was shocked and appalled, but delivered an extremely credible performance.
Mark Wahlberg based his performance on the police officers who’d arrested him about two dozen times in his youth, and the reactions of his parents who had to come bail him out with their grocery money.
Martin Scorsese edited the film himself, but consulted Sidney Levin for advice. Since Scorsese wasn’t a member of the editors’ union, Levin accepted to put his name on the movie.
When the real Jake LaMotta saw the movie, he said it made him realize for the first time what a terrible person he had been. He asked the real Vicki LaMotta “Was I really like that?”. Vicki replied “You were worse.”
Paul Schrader wrote the script for Taxi Driver (1976) in ten days via two drafts, one after the other. As he was writing, he kept a loaded gun on his desk for motivation and inspiration.
The character of K.K. Ichikawa (Nobu Matsuhisa), the Japanese highroller, is based on the life of high roller Akio Kashiwagi. During the 70’s and 80’s, Kashiwagi was a big scene at Las Vegas casinos. By the end of the 1980s, however, Kashiwagi had used up his casino credit, owing many casino executives, among them Donald Trump, millions of dollars. He was murdered in his home in Tokyo by the yakuza (Japanese mafia) in 1992.
The “you think I’m funny?” scene was based on a story that Joe Pesci acted out for Martin Scorsese. While working in a restaurant as a young man, Pesci once told a mobster that he was funny and the mobster became very angry. Scorsese allowed Pesci and Ray Liottato improvise the scene. He did not tell the other actors in the scene what would happen because he wanted their genuine surprised reactions.
Gangs of New York
While filming a fight scene, Leonardo DiCaprio accidentally broke Daniel Day Lewis’ nose. Day-Lewis continued to film the scene anyways.
Al Pacino was offered the role of Jimmy Conway but he turned it down due to fears of typecasting. Ironically, that same year Pacino ended up playing an even more stereotyped gangster – Big Boy Caprice in Warren Beatty’s ‘Dick Tracy.’ He admits he regrets this decision.
Leonardo DiCaprio spent a day with Jane Russell to hear her memories and impressions ofHoward Hughes. She was very impressed with DiCaprio’s visit and told him that Hughes was a quiet yet extremely stubborn man who always got his way in the end.
The King of Comedy
Martin Scorsese said later that making this film was an “unsettling” experience, in part because of the embarrassing, bitter material of the script. Scorsese said that he andRobert De Niro may have not worked together again for seven years because making The King of Comedy (1982) was so emotionally grueling.
Originally, Jack Nicholson turned down his role in the movie, but after a meeting withMartin Scorsese, William Monahan and Leonardo DiCaprio, he was finally convinced to play the role of Frank Costello. The main reason he joined the production was because he had previously done a few comedies, and wanted to play a villain again, and he considered the character of Costello to be the ultimate incarnation of evil.
The Wolf of Wall Street
Matthew McConaughey’s scenes were shot on the second week of filming. The chest beating and humming performed by him was improvised and actually a warm-up rite that he performs before acting. When Leonardo DiCaprio saw it while filming, the brief shot of him looking away uneasily from the camera was actually him looking at Martin Scorsesefor approval. DiCaprio encouraged them to include it in their scene and later claimed it “set the tone” for the rest of the film.
In 1978, when Martin Scorsese was at an all-time low due to a near overdose resulting from an addiction to cocaine, Robert De Niro visited him at the hospital and told him that he had to clean himself up and make this movie about a boxer. At first, Scorsese refused (he didn’t like sports movies anyway), but due to De Niro’s persistence, he eventually gave in. Many claim (including Scorsese) that De Niro saved Scorsese’s life by getting him back into work.
The voice over narration in the opening of the movie (“You don’t make up for your sins in Church; you do it on the street; everything else is bullsh*t and you know it…”) is actually not said by Harvey Keitel (the character we are intended to believe is thinking these thoughts), but director Martin Scorsese. Scorsese felt that using a separate voice to make the distinction between Keitel’s thoughts and actions was necessary.
Jodie Foster was 12 years old when the movie was filmed, so she could not do the more explicit scenes. (Her character was also 12 years old.) Connie Foster, Jodie’s 19-year-old sister when the film was produced, was cast as her body double for those scenes.
The Wolf of Wall Street
The actors snorted crushed vitamin B pills for scenes that involved cocaine.