With classics like “Mean Streets,” “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore,” and “Taxi Driver” already behind him, Martin Scorsese was a director on the rise in Hollywood when he made the musical drama “New York, New York,” starring Liza Minnelli and Robert De Niro, in 1977.
The movie became the first critical and box-office disaster of Scorsese’s career, and the pressure of making a movie of that size led to stress and drug addiction for the legendary filmmaker.
“After finishing ‘New York, New York,’ I took chances,” Scorsese told The Hollywood Reporter in a new interview. “[I was] out of time and out of place and also in turmoil in my own life and embracing the other world, so to speak, with a kind of attraction to the dangerous side of existence. Then on Labour Day weekend, I found myself in a hospital, surprised that I was near death.”
At 35, Scorsese was down to 109 pounds, he says, affected by both his addiction and asthma.
“I was kept in a hospital for 10 days and nights, and they took care of me, these doctors, and I became aware of not wanting to die and not wasting [my life],” he said.
The Oscar winner reflects back at this time as he prepares to release a movie he’s been trying to make for close to 30 years, “Silence.” Starring Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver, and Liam Neeson, it’s based on Shûsaku Endô’s 1966 novel about Jesuit priests who travel to Japan to propagate Christianity.
Scorsese sees his dark time in the ’70s as his wake-up call to better his life so he could continue his craft.
He did just that. He went on to make “Raging Bull” in 1980, “The King of Comedy” in 1982, and “The Last Temptation of Christ” in 1988. The latter, a controversial look at the life of Jesus that lead to nationwide protests of the movie by religious groups, came around the time he first discovered the book “Silence.”
“Silence” opens in theatres December 23.
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