Martin Scorsese’s longtime Oscar-winning editor Thelma Schoonmaker will be honored with the Fellowship award at the BAFTA’s this coming Sunday evening.
Schoonmaker has edited every Scorsese movie since 1980’s “Raging Bull,” which is considered not only one of the best movies of all-time, but also one of the best edited.
Up next is “The Irishman,” a very hush-hush project which re-teams Scorsese with Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci for the first time since 1995’s “Casino,” but Schoonmaker wanted to make it clear to Yahoo Movies UK that it’s no Goodfellas 2.0.
“The Irishman” is not Goodfellas,” Schoonmaker said. “And that’s what they think it’s going to be. It’s not. It is not Goodfellas. It’s completely different. It’s wonderful. They’re going to love it. But please don’t think it’s gonna be Goodfellas, because it isn’t.”
As for the much-mentioned de-aging of De Niro, Schoonmaker says it is mostly used in the first hour of the film, “We’re youthifying the actors in the first half of the movie. And then the second half of the movie they play their own age. So that’s a big risk.” she adds, “We’re having that done by Industrial Light and Magic Island, ILM. That’s a big risk.”
“We’re seeing some of it, but I haven’t gotten a whole scene where they’re young, and what I’m going to have to see, and what Marty’s going to have to see is, ‘How is it affecting the rest of the movie when you see them young?’”
“Interestingly, we’ve only been able to screen for very few people, because they’re wearing some things on their faces, and on their clothes, that tracks their movement… Nobody minds. Nobody minds watching them play young, because they’re gripped.”
“Very few people have seen it, because we can’t show it to a big audience. But the characters are so strong, it doesn’t matter – it’s really funny. I don’t know what it’s going to be like when we get it all – that’s the risk.”
“And it’s an expensive project, [Netflix are] taking a risk there.”
On “Bringing Out the Dead”:
“That’s the one film that I wish would be recognized. His films take a long time to be recognized. Raging Bull took 10 years. It was badly reviewed. A lot of his movies are the same, except for Taxi Driver, Goodfellas and Wolf. They were all immediately recognized because they’re so powerful and entertaining. But all of them have been rediscovered. For example, Age of Innocence, when it came out people poo-pooed it, but now there’s a new version of it that just came out, and everybody thinks it’s great. King of Comedy – disaster, disaster!”
It seems like Thelma’s late husband, “Red Shoes” director Michael Powell, saved “Goodfellas” and got Scorsese to be able to make it:
“He tried three times to sell it, and he was in despair. I came home to my husband and I said ‘Marty’s really having trouble’, and he said, ‘read me the script’ – because my husband, he could see, but his eyes had degenerated which meant he was not able to read.”
“So I read him the script. He said, ‘Get Marty on the phone,’ and I did – it was a Sunday, the one day I got off! – and he said, ‘Marty, you have to make this movie. This is the most brilliant script I’ve read in 20 years, you have to make this movie.’ Marty went in one more time and he got it made.”
“My husband died before he saw it, but he got it made, and it saved me. Because when my husband died, I didn’t want to live anymore, and I had to come back to Goodfellas.”
“Marty shut the movie down, because he loved Michael so much, to let me take him back to England. I didn’t want him to die in America.”
“He waited two months, until Michael died, and he shut the movie down, the editing, and then when I came back, I knew if I didn’t go back and help Marty, my husband would kill me.”
“So, I went back and it pulled me out of my grief, and so it’s a film that has much resonance, you know? It’s just a shame that Michael never saw it, he would have loved it.”
On the runtime of “The Irishman”:
We’re still editing it, we don’t know how long it’s going to be
How Cassavetes became a mentor for Scorsese:
And then, later, when we made Raging Bull, Cassavetes used to come at midnight – because we would work late at night – and bring big plates of spaghetti, with Ben Gazzarra, they would come in, and he would talk to Marty about his next film.
Then he would say, ‘I want to see this, I want to see this movie’ And Marty would say, ‘Oh God, I don’t want to show it to you yet, it’s not ready.’ Finally, he sent me show it to him, and Cassavetes came out and he said, ‘This is a masterpiece’ and he hugged me. He said, ‘I’m hugging you because I feel like I know you, you helped him edit this movie.’
And I said ‘Well, you’re the person who saved him, you’re the person who said he had to remain an artist.’ And he said, ‘Yeah, who asked him to be so good?’
Isn’t that wonderful? Because, in spite of the fact that he had saved him, there is always the jealousy. There’s always the artistic jealousy – ‘I wish I had made that.’ Oh, I love that story – he was so important to Marty.
On watching “The Irishman” for the first time with Scorsese:
“So that’s the kind of thing that goes on when we first see our film. But that one was ‘Oh my.’ And this one too, The Irishman, it’s the same thing, when we looked at it… Wow.”
Just read the whole Yahoo UK interview, it’s a cinephile’s delight.