Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Plug, the Beards, the Dreams

I wonder to what extent Martin Scorsese works with exactly the people he wants to work with. I can't imagine a lot of people hearing that Scorsese wants them to work on one of his movies, and saying, "No, thanks."

Except, of course, for those pesky people who actually come up with the money to make the movies. The plug got pulled on The Last Temptation of Christ twice. Originally shooting was scheduled to begin after The King of Comedy was done, in Israel, with a huge budget, huge sets, great crowds of extras playing Roman soldiers and so forth. Robert De Niro was going to play Jesus -- of course. De Niro as Jesus, Harvey Keitel as Judas, anothor DeNiro/Keitel/Scorsese joint, perfect. But the financiers got nervous because it was "controversial," and they pulled out. The beard De Niro is wearing in The Mission:

and in Angel Heart is the one he originally grew to play Jesus.

Then the Last Temptation of Christ project was started up again, after Scorsese had made After Hours. Aidan Quinn was going to be Jesus this time, he had the long beard rockin and was all set, but again, Lo, the balls of the money people did shrivel and they were sore afraid, and the project was canceled again, and Scorsese made The Color of Money instead. The version Scorsese finally made, with Willem Dafoe as Jesus, was shot in Morocco on a very tight budget. (For example, there are only five people playing Roman soldiers in the whole movie.)

Imagine if the original big-budget De Niro version had been made. Not counting the documentary The Last Waltz, that would've made six Scorsese movies in a row with De Niro in them, five in a row with De Niro in the lead role, and three, after Mean Streets and Taxi Driver, with both De Niro and Keitel.

Imagine what might have been. Maybe Scorsese and De Niro and Keitel would've kept working together constantly. As it is, since the first Temptation project fell apart, Scorsese and De Niro only worked together twice, on Goodfellas and Casino, and the only Scorsese picture Keitel has been in is Last Temptation.

Imagine if De Niro had never made any of those crappy movies he's made with other directors.

That's showbiz. All sorts of exciting projects never get off of the ground. Welles couldn't make Heart of Darkness, so he made Citizen Kane instead. And what's up with Scorsese's Rise of Theodore Roosevelt, with Leonardo Di Caprio as TR, is this being made or is it just a rumor?

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