Oscar Winning ‘Raging Bull’, Was Rewritten By Martin Scorsese And Robert De Niro In Sint Maarten: The making of a heavyweight, Scorsese and De Niro behind the scenes of Raging Bull – in pictures. The award-winning biopic of Jake LaMotta was released 40 years ago. With these exclusive images, Jay Glennie, who interviewed the cast and crew for a new book, reveals secrets of the film’s shoot
The makeup artist Mike Westmore had the job of sculpting a replica of Jake LaMotta’s nose on to Robert De Niro’s face. This would allow for the required blood to be squirted from his nose, cheeks and mouth. Westmore reported that, while his face was covered in plaster, De Niro was “cool, calm and so relaxed he fell asleep”, with the sound of a gentle snore echoing around his work studio.
De Niro was given a copy of LaMotta’s autobiography by LaMotta (right). Inside the cover, he inscribed: “To Bob De Niro! According to Pete [Savage, LaMotta’s childhood friend] – the only actor in the world that could play my crazy ‘whacked out’ life and make it come alive again … With love, Jake LaMotta.” De Niro said he was suitably intrigued and took the book to Scorsese.
Robert De Niro: “We took it slowly, but we knew [Joe Pesci] was the one to play my brother. We did see another kid from Manhattan and he was terrific – he was Italian and he was great – but Joe was strong. We saw Joey LaMotta not just as a poor little brother, but as tough as Jake. That was important and we knew Pesci was the one.”
Cathy Moriarty was spotted by Joe Pesci after winning a bathing suit competition in a New York nightclub. After months of reading with De Niro, she was asked to film an audition. The producer Irwin Winkler recalled that they never bothered viewing the tape; they all knew she was perfect to play LaMotta’s young bride. Looking back on her film debut, she said: “I’ll be for ever grateful to Bob and Marty for the opportunity for the rest of my life.”
De Niro heavily annotates all his scripts and Raging Bull was no different. His archives show that no detail is too small.
Martin Scorsese: “I firmly believed [Raging Bull] was going to be my last American film. I was going to go to Europe and do smaller European films. So I put everything in it. I didn’t care about anything. Kamikaze. I was going to make it the best film that I could.”
Photograph: The Martin Scorsese Collection
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