Martin Scorsese says he 'doesn't have time’ to write female characters

'If the story doesn’t call for it, then it’s a waste of everybody’s time'

Adam White,Jacob Stolworthy
Tuesday 22 October 2019 10:47
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The Irishman - Netflix Official Teaser

Martin Scorsese has said that he “doesn’t have time anymore” to write films led by female characters.

The Oscar-winning filmmaker was speaking at an Italian press conference for The Irishman when he rejected claims that his work isn’t diverse in terms of gender.

“That’s not even a valid point. That’s not valid,” Scorsese said. “I can’t…”

He continued, “That goes back to 1970. That’s a question that I’ve had for so many years. Am I supposed to? If the story doesn’t call for it, then it’s a waste of everybody’s time. If the story calls for a female character lead, why not?”

Emma Tillinger Koskoff, a producer on The Irishman who was at the press conference, also refuted the claim, suggesting the 1974 film Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore as an example of a Scorsese film with a female lead.

“Oh, that’s only one film. They don’t count that,” Scorsese replied. “Age of Innocence – they don’t count that. Casino – Sharon Stone’s great in that. They don’t count that. Forget it. It’s all these men.”

The Age of Innocence, released in 1993, featured starring roles for Michelle Pfeiffer and Winona Ryder. 1995’s Casino secured Stone an Oscar nomination for Best Actress.

Asked if he would like to write more female characters, Scorsese said he would.

“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.”

The Irishman, which is the director's best reviewed film since 1976's Taxi Driver, stars Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci. In recent weeks, it's been criticised for its lack of female characters, specifically an important one played by Anna Paquin who has minimal dialogue in the film.

The gangster film follows real-life Mafia hitman Frank Sheeran across several decades of his life and his experiences with labour union teamster Jimmy Hoffa (Pacino) and crime boss Russell Bufalino (Pesci).

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Production began on the filmmaker’s long-gestating mob drama in 2016 with lucrative rights picked up at Cannes Film Festival. Netflix later acquired worldwide rights to the film for a reported $105m setting a budget of $125m.

Due to the de-ageing technology required to make the central characters look younger, the film ended up costing $160m.

Scorsese most recently defended his claims that Marvel movies are “not cinema”.

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