"Because of the movies I make, [people] get nervous, because they think of me as difficult and angry. I am difficult and angry, but they don't expect a sense of humor. And the only thing that gets me through is a sense of humor." Martin Scorsese
A well-known filmmaker of his era, Martin Scorsese, nicknamed The Butcher, is widely recognized for his masterpieces, including Mean Streets (1973), Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974), Taxi Driver (1976), Raging Bull (1980), The Last Temptation of Christ (1988), Goodfellas (1990), Bringing Out The Dead (1999), Gangs of New York (2002) and The Aviator (2004). The director, who has helped such actors as Ellen Burstyn, Robert De Niro, Paul Newman, Joe Pesci, Jodie Foster, Winona Ryder, Sharon Stone, Alan Alda and Cate Blanchett win Oscars, has not won an Oscar himself.
Martin Scorsese received a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame in February of 2003. He was voted the “4th Greatest Director of all Time” by Entertainment Weekly and the “3rd Greatest Director Ever” by Empire (UK) magazine. On a more personal note, Scorsese has been linked to actress Ileana Douglas, actress/singer Liza Minnelli and producer Sandy Weintraub (1971-1975). A father of three, Scorsese is currently the husband of book editor Helen S. Morris.
"I think a lot of it has to do with the nature of the community. I've lived here in Los Angeles, but I'm more of a New Yorker, and the nature of my films is regarded as somewhat violent and the language is considered tough. As you grow older, you change. I make different films now. You don't make pictures for Oscars." Martin Scorsese
Childhood and Family:
The second child of Sicilian-American parents Luciano Charles Scorsese (died on August 23, 1993, at age 80) and Catherine Cappa Scorsese (died on January 6, 1997, from complications from Alzheimer's disease, both appeared as cameos in Martin’s films), Martin Scorsese was born on November 17, 1942, in Queens, New York. Along with older brother Frank Scorsese (born in 1936), Martin grew up in the Little Italy neighborhood of Manhattan's Lower East Side. Martin suffered from severe asthma which hindered him from playing sports and excluded him from other general children activities. Raised in a devout Catholic environment, Martin was an altar boy at Old St. Patrick's Cathedral and joined a seminary when he was 14.
Martin Scorsese, nicknamed Marty, or Iza, attended New York University and received a B.S. in English in 1964. He later earned a M.A. in Film in 1966. He has been married five times: to former actress Laraine Marie Brennan (married on May 15, 1965; divorced), writer Julia Cameron (married on December 30, 1975; divorced), actress and model Isabella Rossellini (married on September 29, 1979; divorced in 1983) and producer Barbara De Fina (married in February 1985; separated 1991; divorced). Scorsese is now the husband of book editor Helen S. Morris (works at Random House), whom he married on July 22, 1999. He has three daughters: Francesca (born on November 16, 1999; mother: Helen S. Morris), Domenica Elizabeth (actress; born on September 6, 1976; mother: Julia Cameron) and Catherine Terese Glinora Sophia (producer; mother: Laraine Brennan).
"I'm in a different chapter of my life. As time goes by and I grow older, I find that I need to just be quiet and think. There have been periods when I've locked myself away for days, but now it's different. I'm married and we have a daughter who is in my office the whole time." Martin Scorsese
"Basically, you make another movie, and another, and hopefully you feel good about every picture you make. And you say: 'My name is on that. I did that. It's OK.' But don't get me wrong, I still get excited by it all. That, I hope, will never disappear." Martin Scorsese
Once thinking of becoming a priest, Martin Scorsese switched his interest to film and made his first student efforts with the nine-minute project What's a Nice Girl Like You Doing in a Place Like This (1963) and the 15-minute It's Not Just You, Murray (1964). After making the six-minute film The Big Shave (1967), he finally finished his feature-length debut, Who's That Knocking at My Door (released in 1969, starring Harvey Keitel), which he also wrote. Scorsese spent the next year in Europe and wrote dialogue for the American version of Pim de la Parra's Dutch thriller Obsessions. He originally was hired to direct the film The Honeymoon Killers (1968), but was replaced after one week. He then taught film at New York University, where among his students were aspiring directors Oliver Stone and Jonathan Kaplan.
Scorsese made his first documentary as a director in Street Scenes (1970), about the May 1970 student demonstrations opposing the American military invasion of Cambodia. Moving to Hollywood, Scorsese found a job as an editor for films like Woodstock, Francois Reichenbach's Medicine Ball Caravan, and Elvis on Tour, and began received the nickname “The Butcher.” He also made his commercial feature directing debut with the low-budget Boxcar Bertha (1972, starring Barbara Hershey and David Carradine), for producer Roger Corman’s American International Pictures.
Returning to New York, Scorsese began working on his breakthrough masterpiece, the 1973 drama Mean Streets, which he also wrote. The film also marked the director’s relationship with star Robert DeNiro, who would appear in many of Scorsese’s films.
The next year, Scorsese directed the documentary Italianamerican (starring Scorsese’s parents). Also in that year, Scorsese helmed the tale of a delightful, imperturbable single mother in Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore. The film, written by Robert Getchell, earned the star Ellen Burstyn a Best Actress Oscar and costar Diane Ladd a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination.
Scorsese returned to New York to begin making the famous Taxi Driver. The film starred Robert DeNiro as Travis Bickle, an insomniac ex-marine working as a nighttime taxi driver, whose fantasy is murdering a Presidential candidate and saving a young prostitute (played by Jodie Foster), from the streets. The controversial, but well-received film earned Scorsese several awards, including recognition from the National Society of Film Critics association, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and the Cannes Film Festival.
The sparkling, nostalgic look at the big-band era of the 1940s, New York, New York, arrived in 1977. Scorsese hired Robert DeNiro (costarring with Liza Minnelli) to portray an aspiring saxophonist in the musical drama. The film was a disappointment, but Scorsese continued to direct and made his stage directing debut in the play “The Act,” starring Minnelli. He also helmed two documentaries, American Boy: A Profile of: Steven Prince, and The Last Waltz, a musical about the 1976 farewell concert of "The Band," featuring such rock superstars as Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and Van Morrison.
1980 saw Scorsese directing one of American cinema’s masterworks, a crisp black and white film titled Raging Bull. The boxing biopic circles the life story of middleweight champ, physically tough but emotionally self-destructive, Jake LaMotta. The film earned high praise at the Academy Awards where Scorsese received his first Best Director nomination, star actor Robert DeNiro won Best Actor for portraying LaMotta, newcomer Cathy Moriarty earned a Best Actress nomination for her turn as LaMotta's second wife and Thelma Schoonmaker won an award for editing.
"Bob wanted to make this film. Not me. I don't understand anything about boxing. For me, it's like a physical game of chess," Martin Scorsese said about Raging Bull (1980).
Scorsese helmed the brutally funny depiction of the dangers of celebrity fandom in The King of Comedy (1983), written by Paul D. Zimmerman. Scorsese again cast Robert De Niro to star as the absurdly clumsy Rupert Pupkin, a wannabe comic who idolizes talk-show host Jerry Langford (played by Jerry Lewis). He then directed the downtown New York comedy After Hours (1985, starring Rosanna Arquette and Griffin Dunne) and picked up the sequel of Robert Rossen's 1961 classic The Hustler, blockbuster The Color of Money (1986). Star Paul Newman, who reprised his role as Fast Eddie Felson, a middle-aged pool hustler player who takes on a young protégé (played by Tom Cruise), won a Best Actor Oscar, and co-star Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio scored a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination.
After directing Michael Jackson’s music video “Bad” (scripted by Richard Price), Scorsese delivered a figurative interpretation of the last days of Jesus Christ in The Last Temptation of Christ (1988, the title role played by Willem Defoe), which was strictly based on the book by Nikos Kazantzakis. Despite the controversy of the film, the film hit the box-office and Scorsese nabbed a second Best Director Oscar nomination.
Along with Francis Ford Coppola and Woody Allen, Scorsese directed New York Stories (1989), which comprises three short films set in New York. Scorsese directed the segment "Life Lessons," in which Nick Nolte played an abstract painter trying to save his relationship with Rosanna Arquette. Scorsese also helmed and co-wrote the big screen version of author Nicholas Pileggi's true-crime account “Wiseguy,” in the movie Goodfellas (1990). The film proved to be another Scorsese masterpiece. It gathered six Oscar nominations; including one for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay and helped actor Joe Pesci win Best Supporting Actor for his turn as a crazed mob hit man.
In 1990, Scorsese signed a six-picture film production deal with Universal Pictures, under which he made the modern version of the classic Hollywood thriller Cape Fear (1991). Scorsese next directed The Age of Innocence (1993) which starred Daniel Day-Lewis and Michelle Pfeiffer. The movie was adopted from a novel by Edith Wharton. Scorsese also co-scripted with Jay Cocks and earned a Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar nomination. Additionally, Scorsese formed the film preservation and distribution company Martin Scorsese Presents, in 1992.
The rest of the 1990s watched Scorsese directing a film about the rise and fall of mob rule in the Las Vegas of the 1970s in Casino (1995), and examining the evolution of the Hollywood filmmaking process in the three-part documentary, A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese Through American Movies (1995, TV). He also directed the biographical film of the exiled Dalai Lama, Kundun (1997), and exhilaratingly adapted Joe Connelly’s novel, Bringing Out the Dead (1999), which centers on a paramedic (played by Nicolas Cage) working in Gotham's Hell's Kitchen. In the four-hour-plus documentary Mio viaggio in Italia, Il (1999, a.k.a. My Voyage to Italy, screened at the New York Film Festival and released for a one-week Oscar qualifying run; aired on TCM in 2002), Scorsese delivered an intriguing study of Italian movies through the 1970s. A recipient of the American Film Institute's Lifetime Achievement honor (1997), Scorsese also served as president of the Cannes Film Festival Jury in 1998.
In 2002, Scorsese executive-produced Katherine Lindberg’s drama Rain (screened at the Sundance Film Festival) and Scott Kalvert's Deuces Wild (starring Matt Dillon and Deborah Harry). Under Miramax, Scorsese helmed Gangs of New York, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Cameron Diaz and Daniel Day-Lewis. Gangs of New York was nominated for 10 Oscars, including Best Picture and another Best Director nomination for Scorsese. On February 28, 2003, Scorsese received a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
More recent, Scorsese directed the biopic The Aviator (2004), about aviation pioneer Howard Hughes (starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert DeNiro reportedly recommended him to the director), the eccentric billionaire industrialist, Hollywood film mogul and womanizer. The film swept Oscar nominations, including nominations for Scorsese and star Leonardo DiCaprio. It also helped Cate Blanchett win Best Supporting Actress for portraying the legendary screen beauty Katharine Hepburn. Scorsese also crafted an unprecedented exploration of Bob Dylan’s creative process on the PBS documentary event No Direction Home (2005).
Honorary president of the Vienna Film museum, Scorsese is currently sitting on the director’s chair to complete his upcoming projects: the crime action The Departed (starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon and Jack Nicholson) and an Untitled Airbus Documentary Project (co-directing with José Luis López-Linares).
"My whole life has been movies and religion. That’s it, nothing else." Martin Scorsese
- Montréal World Film Festival: Grand Prix Special des Amériques, 2003
- Florida Film Critics Circle: Best Director, Gangs of New York, 2003
- Directors Guild of America: Lifetime Achievement Award, 2003
- Golden Globes: Best Director - Motion Picture, Gangs of New York, 2003
- Writers Guild of America: Evelyn F. Burkey Award, 2003
- DVD Exclusive: Best Audio Commentary, Library Release, The Last Waltz, 2003
- Melbourne International Film Festival: Most Popular Documentary, My Voyage to Italy (2002)
- Hollywood Film Festival: Hollywood Discovery Award - Outstanding Achievement in Directing, 2002
- American Film Institute: Life Achievement Award, 1997
- Artists Rights Foundation: John Huston Award for Artists Rights; cited for his work in film preservation, 1996
- American Society of Cinematographers: Board of Governors Award, 1995
- Venice Film Festival: Golden Lion Award, Lifetime Achievement, 1995
- ShowEast: Cecil B. DeMille Award, Lifetime Achievement; presented by NATO, 1995
- National Board of Review: Best Director, The Age of Innocence, 1993
- Independent Feature Project: Gotham Award, Lifetime Achievement, 1993
- BAFTA Britannia, 1993
- Venice Film Festival: Best Director, GoodFellas, 1990
- Los Angeles Film Critics Association: Best Director, GoodFellas, 1990
- New York Film Critics Circle: Best Director, GoodFellas, 1990
- National Society of Film Critics: Best Director, GoodFellas, 1990
- BAFTA: Best Director, GoodFellas, 1990
- BAFTA: Best Screenplay (adapted), GoodFellas; award shared with Nicholas Pileggi, 1990
- Cannes Film Festival: Best Director, After Hours, 1986
- Independent Spirit: Best Director, After Hours; tied with Joel Coen, 1985
- National Society of Film Critics: Best Director, Raging Bull, 1980
- Cannes Film Festival: Palme d'Or Award, Taxi Driver, 1976
- Cannes Film Festival: International Grand Prize Award, Taxi Driver, 1976
- Los Angeles Film Critics Association: New Generation Award; tied with Jodie Foster, 1976
- National Society of Film Critics: Best Director, Taxi Driver, 1976