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Martin Scorsese dismisses accusation his movies lack female roles

Martin Scorsese attending the premiere of the movie 'The Irishman' during 11th Lyon Lumiere Festival at Auditorium in Lyon, France on Oct. 15, 2019.
Martin Scorsese attending the premiere of the movie 'The Irishman' during 11th Lyon Lumiere Festival at Auditorium in Lyon, France on Oct. 15, 2019. Julien Reynaud/APS-Medias/ABACAPRESS.COM

After the premiere of the upcoming Netflix original The Irishman on the big screen at Rome Film Fest on Monday, Martin Scorsese engaged in a Q&A session with a number of Italian reporters about the film and his career.

During the panel, the iconic 76-year-old director spoke about the highly anticipated film, touched upon his recent and controversial claim that Marvel films are “not cinema,” and reportedly shot down a journalist who asked him about the lack of female representation in his films.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Scorsese was asked why he tends to avoid making movies that include strong female characters, rather than middle-aged men — supposedly referring to the cast of The Irishman, which stars Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and Al Pacino among other prominent male actors.

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Scorsese dismissed the question.

“No. That’s not even a valid point,” he responded. “That’s not valid. I can’t… That goes back to 1970. That’s a question that I’ve had for so many years.”

Movie trailer: The Irishman
Movie trailer: The Irishman

The frustrated filmmaker turned to Irishman producer Emma Tillinger Koskoff asking, “Am I supposed to…?” before she intervened, saying, “No.”

“If the story doesn’t call for it, it’s a waste of everybody’s time,” added Scorsese. “If the story calls for a female character lead, why not?”

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Koskoff chimed in, on multiple occasions, listing off some of the director’s movies that featured prominent and powerful female characters.

Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore,” she said, referring to Scorsese’s popular 1974 rom-com, which stars Ellen Burstyn.

“Oh, that’s only one film,” replied the director. “They don’t count that. “Age of Innocence, they don’t count that. Casino,” he added, prompted by Koskoff.

In this Sept. 5, 2019 file photo, Martin Scorsese attends the premiere for ‘Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band’ on day one of the Toronto International Film Festival at Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto.
In this Sept. 5, 2019 file photo, Martin Scorsese attends the premiere for ‘Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band’ on day one of the Toronto International Film Festival at Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto. Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File

Casino. Sharon Stone’s great in that. They don’t count that. Forget it, ‘It’s all these men,'” Scorsese said sarcastically.

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“Sure, I’d like to,” he said. “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. I don’t have time anymore,” concluded the Goodfellas mastermind.

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On his recent critique of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) — which was echoed by fellow director Francis Ford Coppola — Scorsese said that “theatres seem to be mainly supporting the ‘amusement park’ comic book films.”

“They’re taking over the theatres. They can have those films and it’s fine, but that shouldn’t become what our young people believe is cinema.”

‘The Irishman’ trailer
‘The Irishman’ trailer

The Irishman will make its way to select cinemas across the globe on Nov. 1 before being released on Netflix on Nov. 27.

Watch the official trailers for ‘The Irishman’ above.

adam.wallis@globalnews.ca