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Martin Scorsese learned an important lesson making Raging Bull

Even the best directors of all time have something new to learn, and that's exactly what happened to Martin Scorsese when he had an epiphany after Raging Bull.


Released in 1980, Raging Bull is one of Martin Scorsese’s greatest movies. It tells the real-life story of middle-weight boxer Jake LaMotta, who, across two decades, rose to the top of the boxing circuit as the violence and paranoia underpinning his personal life spiraled out of control.

The Martin Scorsese film has come to be known as one of the best movies of all time, earning a record-breaking eight Academy Award nominations and winning two. One of those was Best Actor for Robert De Niro’s portrayal of LaMotta, a career-defining turn if ever there was one.

In an interview with Hindustan Times to promote Killers of the Flower Moon, Scorsese revealed that he learned an important lesson directing the best drama movie of the ’80s.

“I learned after Raging Bull that I’d have to start all over again every time,” Scorsese explained. “And that led to The King of Comedy. I learnt, in a very good way, ignorance. I thought I knew, and had plans, but you never know what the nature of this organism of filmmaking is going to be.”

But while this generation’s best director always approaches his next movie with an open mind, there are certain actors that Scorsese just keeps coming back to — like Robert De Niro.

“By doing Mean Streets and Taxi Driver together, we found that we were drawn to the same subject matter, same psychological and emotion conflicts in people, in characters, and in ourselves. A certain trust was developed,” Scorsese told the outlet.

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“I resisted Raging Bull for several years for certain reasons, but he really insisted that it’d be good for me. He’s the only one alive now who knows where I come from, as kids, as young people. So the keyword is trust, fearless, and less vanity,” he added.

“[De Niro is] concerned about the make-up and how the character looks, but not about beauty and trying to make him look better with special lighting. He says if the camera is on my back and someone else’s face makes it look better, do that.”

In terms of Hollywood partnerships, we’re lucky to have gotten as much out of these two as we have. Raging Bull was just one chapter of many, and luckily there are a few more coming. For more on De Niro and Scorsese’s latest collaboration, check out our Killers of the Flower Moon review. Or, see where De Niro ranks in our list of the best actors of all time.