Robert De Niro on Making 'The Irishman' With Martin Scorsese: "It’s Been a Long Time Coming"

The actor and Tribeca Film Festival co-founder opens up to The Hollywood Reporter about the 12 years it took to make the movie — and reveals what it's like seeing a "younger, de-aged" version of himself on film.

At this year's Tribeca Film Festival, co-founder Robert De Niro will sit down with director and longtime friend Martin Scorsese for a talk about their many film collaborations over the years. According to De Niro, his chat with Scorsese will likely include details about their upcoming movie, The Irishman, their ninth joint effort overall.  

In a recent Hollywood Reporter In Studio interview, De Niro opened up about adapting the story — based off of Charles Brandt's 2003 book I Heard You Paint Houses — for the screen.

"It's a terrific book…I read it and I said, 'Marty, you should read this book because I think maybe this is what we should try and [do],'" said the actor, later adding that it's taken 12 years to get the project off the ground. "We started this whole process in 2007, so it's been a long time coming. I'm excited to see it and to share it after all this time working on it."

The Irishman is a biographical film starring De Niro as Frank Sheeran, a labor union leader and alleged hitman for the Bufalino crime family, and Al Pacino as union activist Jimmy Hoffa. Joe Pesci, Anna Paquin, Bobby Cannavale, Ray Romano and Harvey Keitel round out the star-studded cast. Filming began in New York in September 2017 and wrapped in March 2018. The film is set to have a theatrical release, followed by digital streaming, in late 2019, by Netflix.

Jane Rosenthal, De Niro's Tribeca co-founder, served as a producer on the film. Like the Oscar winner, Rosenthal is also looking forward to seeing the final product. "It was 2007, so we've been working on this [for a while]," she told THR, noting that screenwriter Steven Zaillian delivered a script very quickly. But still, as Rosenthal said, "It took us a long time to get it made through so many different iterations."

Though The Irishman has yet to receive a premiere date, both De Niro and Rosenthal have seen a few scenes from the film — including moments featuring a "younger, de-aged" version of 75-year-old De Niro, assisted by CGI. Special effects are being employed to shave years off the star as the movie covers a wide span of his character's life.  

"I think it's great. I've seen some of it. I'm going to see some of it more, actually today or tomorrow, but it's great. They're really doing a terrific job," he enthused. "I'm anxious to see the whole thing put together."

Added Rosenthal: "It's pretty emotional when you see it."

Along with De Niro and Scorsese's chat — part of the Tribeca Talks: Directors Series — the 18th edition of the annual downtown Manhattan film fest will feature a string of music-related film premieres, including opening night doc The Apollo and Danny Boyle's Beatles-inspired comedy Yesterday, which will close the two-week event.

"It just seemed to happen and it is fun for us to have some nice music," Rosenthal said of this year's unexpected theme. "And you'll eventually get to see these films again, but here at Tribeca, there are some pretty fun performances happening after some of the premieres that you can’t really experience anywhere else. It'll be a good time."

The 2019 Tribeca Film Festival begins April 24. For more from De Niro and Rosenthal — including the actor's thoughts on frequently playing special counsel Robert Mueller on Saturday Night Live — watch the video above.