Movies & TV

Why Martin Scorsese Nearly Quit Directing Almost 20 Years Ago

Thanks to The Aviator and meddling of studio execs

Martin Scorsese's riding on a high after The Irishman, but it turns out that he nearly jacked in directing altogether almost 20 years ago after reaching the end of his tether with meddling studio execs.

According to an interview with The New York Times, "the last two weeks of editing and mixing The Aviator" left the director feeling almost terminally bummed out, especially when people kept telling him he had to chop away at the run time if he wanted it to get anywhere near a cinema release.

"I had left the business from the stress," Scorsese said. "I said, if this is the way you have to make films then I’m not going to do it anymore."

That breaking point nearly came even earlier, while filming the scene in Casino where Joe Pesci's Nicky Santoro and his brother get smacked to bits by bad lads with baseball bats and unceremoniously dumped in a shallow grave in a corn field. At that point, Scorsese thought he might have maxed out his quote of brutal whackings. "I said I can’t go any further with it," Scorsese recalled.

The studio system seemed fundamentally at odds with how Scorsese wanted to make films. "It's like being in a bunker and you’re firing out in all directions. You begin to realise you’re not speaking the same language anymore, so you can’t make pictures anymore.”

And yet he dug deep, drew on his love of cinema, and in The Irishman finally made a crime drama so impossibly long that most viewers turned it into a four-part miniseries. Dedication.


This story originally appeared on

* Minor edits have been made by the editors.

Recommended Videos
View More Articles About:
More Videos You Can Watch
About The Author
Tom Nicholson
View Other Articles From Tom
Latest Feed
Load More Articles
Connect With Us