May 16, 2019
Martin Scorsese is Obsessing Over the “Youthification” CGI in ‘The Irishman’
The Irishman is Martin Scorsese‘s reunion with Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and Harvey Keitel. It’s also his return to the crime movie genre. But despite all these familiar elements, the upcoming Netflix film is going to be unlike anything Scorsese has ever made before. Because unlike the filmmaker’s previous films, The Irishman is employing extensive CGI in order to de-age the cast. The story spans decades, and rather than cast younger actors for earlier scenes, Scorsese is using special effects to give De Niro and company a youthful appearance. We’ve yet to see any footage of The Irishman, and it sounds like there’s a good reason for that: Scorsese is obsessing over getting it right.
Filmmakers Martin Scorsese and Joanna Hogg recently interviewed each other on the A24 Podcast, and the results are a must-listen. Scorsese and Hogg talk about their work, with Hogg there to delve into her new A24 movie The Souvenir and the process of filmmaking in general. During the conversation, Scorsese brings up the technical difficulties he’s experiencing while cutting together The Irishman, his upcoming Netflix crime film that stars Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci and Harvey Keitel.
“There’s a great deal of CGI because we’re doing this ‘youthification’ of De Niro, Pesci and Al Pacino, and so they had to be CGI,” Scorsese says. “There had to be a camera with three lenses and [it] was just crazy.”
Scorsese is hellbent on making this “youthification” look right – a process that sounds like it’s driving him a little nuts. “What I’m concerned about…what we’re all concerned about, is that we’re so used to watching them [with] the older faces,” he says. “When we put them all together and there are cuts back and forth…now I’m seeing [that] certain shots need more work on the eyes…the wrinkles and things have changed. So it’s changed the eyes. If that’s the case, then [what] was in the eyes that I liked? Was an intensity, was a gravitas. Was it threat…I don’t know.”
Digital de-aging tech has come a long way in the last few years. The best recent example was in Captain Marvel, which de-aged Samuel L. Jackson so perfectly that it looked 100% believable. While I have no doubt it will be jarring to see De Niro, Pacino and others digitally de-aged at first, I also have faith that Scorsese won’t give up until he thinks the footage looks absolutely perfect.
Beyond The Irishman talk, I strongly urge you to listen to the entire podcast above. It’s a great conversation between two wonderful filmmakers.
The Irishman has no official release date yet, but is due out late 2019. The Souvenir opens May 17.
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