1980’s “Raging Bull” almost did director Martin Scorsese in. In a sit-down with star Robert De Niro at the close-out of De Niro’s Tribeca Film Festival, Scorsese and De Niro discussed the iconic Oscar-winning film with Leonardo DiCaprio.
De Niro says: “The one thing that I always felt is that we didn't know how well it'd do but we knew it'd be a special movie. No matter what, it would be special … because everything we put into it.”
De Niro gained 60 pounds to play the boxer Jake LaMotta in his later years. “The book, for some reason, it wasn't great literature, but something about it, it had a lot of heart,” De Niro said. “So I told Marty, 'Read the book, there's something there. He loses (his title) and gains all the weight and he falls apart in that sense. There's something physically that's so graphic. Maybe I could take the time to gain this weight, see how far we can go with that.' ”
Scorsese, 78, who first collaborated with De Niro on 1973's “Mean Streets,” said that initially, he “wasn't affected by the book at all.” Having never played sports as a child, he also found boxing to be “extremely boring.” But after being hospitalized for a drug overdose in 1978, “my whole world changed as to the kinds of films I wanted to make.”
“I made it as if it was pretty much the end of my life: It's over. Suicide film,” Scorsese said. “I didn't care if I made another movie. I guess I would a year later (1982's 'The King of Comedy'), but in a way, it wiped me out. And I mean, that whole style of filmmaking. I had to start all over again, I had to learn again. Every day on the shoot was like, 'This is the last one. Go for it.' ”