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The biographical movie stars Robert De Niro, 75, as Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran, a labor union leader and alleged hitman for the Bufalino crime family, and Al Pacino, 79, as union activist Jimmy Hoffa. Both actors appear at different ages spanning decades, which is accomplished with VFX and makeup. But it’s the digital de-aging work, which is being handled by Lucasfilm’s Industrial Light & Magic, that has been the focus of much curiosity.
The Irishman also stars Joe Pesci, Anna Paquin, Bobby Cannavale, Ray Romano, Sebastian Maniscalco and Harvey Keitel, at least a couple of whom will also appear with some digital trickery.
The movie’s moody images were lensed by cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto, who also shot Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street and Silence. He was Oscar-nominated for Silence as well as Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain.
The film was adapted by Steve Zaillian from Charles Brandt’s 2003 book I Heard You Paint Houses, detailing Sheeran’s life and the hits that defined his mob career, including connections to the infamous Bufalino family. Scorsese’s longtime collaborator, three-time Oscar winner Thelma Schoonmaker, is editing.
One particular hit Sheeran claims to have played a part in is the disappearance of Hoffa. Sheeran’s lifelong friend and former president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters mysteriously vanished in July 1975 at the age of 62.
Referencing his ninth collaboration with Scorsese — which took 12 years to get off the ground — De Niro said, “I’m excited to see it and to share it after all this time working on it.”
Producers on the film include Scorsese, De Niro, Randall Emmett, Jane Rosenthal, Emma Tillinger Koskoff and Irwin Winkler.
The Irishman, which was originally announced in 2008 and first set up at Paramount, will be released in select theaters and on Netflix. It will have its world premiere as the opening night film at the 2019 New York Film Festival.
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