Martin Scorsese Reminisces at Tribeca Film Festival About How ‘Raging Bull’ Was Nearly Canceled By Studio
‘Raging Bull,’ the 1980 film that earned Robert De Niro an Oscar for his role as self-destructive boxer Jake LaMotta, was on the studio chopping block claims legendary director Martin Scorsese at a Tribeca Film Festival talk Sunday evening.
“Do you remember that meeting ... when the guys came up and tried to talk us out of it?” Scorsese asked longtime friend and collaborator De Niro while sitting alongside him onstage at the Beacon Theatre in New York City.
“I forgot that,” De Niro responded.
Scorsese went on to describe being notified by Irwin Winkler, one of the film’s producers, that “a couple of the guys from the studio were here” and wanted to check in with the director and De Niro about the film, including why it was being made in black and white.
“They were questioning us about the film ... and we were answering questions and I answered the questions as best I could about the black and white,” Scorsese said. "Then at one point one of the guys said, 'Why do you want to make a film about this guy? This guy is a cockroach.’ It’s actually a valid question.”
Scorsese then reminded De Niro about his eloquent response. “And so your reaction was articulate, and grand, in a sense,” Scorsese joked. "You said, 'No, he’s not.’ ”
It was only later that the pair found out why those studio executives really came to meet with them.
“They were on their way up to cancel the film,” Scorsese further stated, before, it seems, the director was able to assuage their concerns.
Meanwhile Leonardo DiCaprio, Scorsese’s more recent cinematic muse, was in the audience at Sunday’s Tribeca event, hiding under a baseball cap until the pair called him out by name.
The Tribeca Film Festival, co-founded by De Niro, is currently underway and runs through May 5.