Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro have one of the most fruitful and enduring partnerships in cinema history, with 2023’s Killers of the Flower Moon marking 50 years since the release of their first collaboration — Mean Streets. After the dark thriller’s Cannes premiere, the two friends took a moment to reflect on how far they’d come.
Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro’s latest collaboration sees De Niro’s character orchestrating the murders of members of Oklahoma’s Osage tribe for their oil money. Despite what must have been a tough shoot and the film’s grueling subject matter, the old friends managed to share a relaxing champagne toast after the premiere of Killers of the Flower Moon where they could bond over their shared history.
“We allowed ourselves about 60 seconds at Cannes…we had some champagne, and we leaned back, and the pool was down there, and the hotel was very beautiful. There were spotlights, and the sky, and the stars. And he [De Niro] looked at me and leaned back, and he said, ‘Would you believe, in 50 years, where we are?’ He couldn’t believe it. He said, ‘Let’s have a little sip.’” Scorsese told Stephen Colbert (via People).
Scorsese and De Niro first crossed paths when they were just 16 years old, on the streets of New York City. But they lost track of one another until director Brian De Palma reunited them, which led to them making Mean Streets together. This has been followed by ten feature films over the course of 50 years – and every one is a certified banger, let’s be honest.
It was actually Robert De Niro who recommended Leonardo DiCaprio to Martin Scorsese after they worked together when Leo was only 18 on 1993’s This Boy’s Life. Killers of the Flower Moon is the first time the three have worked together on a feature film, although they previously appeared together in the short film The Audition. The hilarious comedy movie sees De Niro and DiCaprio playing egotistical versions of themselves and sets them up as rivals, fighting over “their” director.
Interestingly, between 1995 and 2015, there was a 20-year period when Scorsese and De Niro didn’t work together at all. And who was Scorsese mainly working with during this time? That’s right – young upstart Leonardo DiCaprio! Between 2002 and 2013, they made five movies together, and it’s DiCaprio who can claim that it was he who finally won Scorsese his long overdue Oscar (for The Departed). Take that, De Niro!
Due to the actors strike, the burden for the promotion of Killers of the Flower Moon has fallen almost entirely on Martin Scorsese’s shoulders. We’ve had the gift of many wonderful, self-reflective interviews with one of the undisputed best directors of all time this year. At 80 years old, Scorsese is acutely aware that he’s running out of time to make more movies, but that won’t stop people from asking him about his thoughts on the MCU, of course.
For our thoughts on Scorsese’s latest masterpiece, check out our Killers of the Flower Moon review from Cannes. Find out how many times Scorsese pops up on our list of the best Robert De Niro movies. We’re also excited for Yellowstone season 5 part 2.