Legendary Hollywood director Martin Scorsese shut down an Italian reporter Monday when asked why his films’ protagonists are mainly men.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the filmmaker faced the question during an appearance with producer Emma Tillinger Koskoff at the Rome Film Fest, while presenting his latest project, “The Irishman.”
The new film, which stars Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci, tells the story of criminal union boss Jimmy Hoffa and mob hitman Frank “the Irishman” Sheeran.
The Hollywood Reporter described it as “very much a movie about middle-aged men.”
In response to the criticism of the perceived over-the-top masculinity in his films, Scorsese, with the help of Koskoff, said that the narrative should not be sacrificed for gender quotas.
“No. That’s not even a valid point,” he said. “That’s not valid. I can’t … That goes back to 1970. That’s a question that I’ve had for so many years. Am I supposed to?”
“No,” Koskoff answered.
“If the story doesn’t call for it, it’s a waste of everybody’s time,” he continued. “If the story calls for a female character lead, why not?”
“‘Alice Doesn’t Live Here [Anymore],'” Koskoff offered, recalling a Scorsese film that starred Ellen Burstyn in an Oscar-winning effort.
“Oh, that’s only one film. They don’t count that. ‘Age of Innocence,’ they don’t count that,” Scorsese responded, referencing the film that starred Michelle Pfeiffer and garnered an Oscar nod for supporting actress Winona Ryder.
“‘Casino,'” Koskoff said.
“‘Casino.’ Sharon Stone’s great in that,” Scorsese replied, referencing yet another Oscar-nominated performance by an actress he directed. “They don’t count that. Forget it. ‘It’s all these men,'” Scorsese said, prompting applause from the audience.
“Sure I’d like to do,” said Scorsese when asked if he’d direct another film with female leads in the future. “But you know what, I’m 76 now. How am I going to have the time? I don’t know what’s going to happen. We don’t know. I don’t have time anymore.”
Throughout his storied career, Scorsese has been at the helm of massive box office hits such as “The Departed” and “Cape Fear,” but is arguably more well-known for his critical masterpieces, including “Gangs of New York,” “Taxi Driver,” and “Goodfellas.”
Among his films, a total of 10 women have garnered Oscar nominations for acting, including wins for Burstyn and Cate Blanchett (“The Aviator”).
“The Irishman” will open for a limited theatrical release on Nov. 1 and will be available to stream on Netflix by Nov. 27.
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