Marrakech: Robert De Niro Says 'The Irishman' Set for the Big Screen

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Robert De Niro

The star said Netflix will release his latest collaboration with Martin Scorsese "the way it should be, in a theater."

The Irishman is set for the big screen next year when it is released by Netflix, star Robert De Niro said Sunday while speaking at the Marrakech Film Festival.

The pic is the actor's latest collaboration with Goodfellas director Martin Scorsese, which also stars Al Pacino, Joe Pesci and Harvey Keitel, and is set in the crime world.

“We've talked about it with Netflix. They are going to do a presentation of our film the way it should be, in a theater, in certain venues, the best theatrical venues there can be,” De Niro said, hinting that there have been ongoing discussions with the streaming platform surrounding the release. 

“How they resolve it is, in the beginning, they will show it on the big screen — we're talking about big venues where it would play, where it should play — and what happens after that, I'm not sure,” he said, guessing that it would be released online at a later date.

It marks the second big film Netflix will release, following in the footsteps of Alfonso Curaon's Oscar contender Roma in a limited theatrical run for awards season. Netflix has also taken on Guillermo del Toro's dark Pinocchio, which is another potential awards contender and the next project after his Oscar wins for The Shape of Water.

Del Toro is in Marrakech, too, while Netflix is sponsoring the festival's Atlas Talent development program focused on young filmmakers from Africa and the Middle East.

With a $140 million budget for The Irishman, De Niro and Scorsese were having trouble getting traditional financing from a studio before Netflix stepped up with the funds. “We were fortunate enough to get it from Netflix, who have been very good to us, so hopefully there will be some compromise" on the theatrical release issue, said the actor.

De Niro said that once the film was given the green light, Netflix was hands-off and “left us alone and left Marty alone to do it the way it should be done.” It appears that much of its budget will go to special effects with ILM, as the characters will be aged down up to five decades through technology alone. "Marty wanted to do this as best as it has been done to this point to make us look younger," said De Niro. He added that being able to work without makeup "gave us a lot of freedom." The actor said he has not yet seen how it looks onscreen. 

De Niro said he and Scorsese are also teaming again for an upcoming film with Leonardo DiCaprio. He said the deal is done — “It's happening” — but he didn't divulge further details about the project.

The outspoken De Niro also talked about Donald Trump when he took to the stage Saturday night, denouncing the U.S. president and what he called the “diabolical form of populism marked by greed, xenophobia and selfishness under the banner of America first.”

The man who on several occasions played special counsel Robert Mueller on Saturday Night Live said that he believes the Democratic Congress will create a “shift” in the national dialogue, but signaled that he is going to dial down the rhetoric even when on an international stage.

“I don't want to keep saying, 'Fuck Trump,'” De Niro said, noting that it causes further divisiveness. “We have to move past that.”

The actor blamed the entertainment industry to an extent, noting that a “stupid show like The Apprentice helped elect [Trump] as president” and created a myth that voters buy into. “They created that show and created that false image of somebody who is a boss and a captain of industry, where in reality he's an idiot. … He's a total con artist,” De Niro said, but he predicted the current era will soon be the subject of several films.

The actor took himself out of the running for any role as Trump, however: “I always find empathy in every character I play, I always find a reason to look at it from their side. I try every day when I see what he does to empathize with his position, but he's so unsympathetic on every level, I have no tolerance, I have no patience for him, and have no interest at all in ever playing him.”