Netflix has released the first look at one of its biggest original films to date: Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman. The film stars Robert De Niro as mob hitman Frank Sheeran and Al Pacino as Jimmy Hoffa.
De Niro has been attached to the project for more than a decade, and Netflix picked up the film in 2017 as part of a larger strategy to buy up prestige-style dramas for its platform. Netflix wants to show that it’s a legitimate player in Hollywood, which has looked at the company warily as it’s worked to upend the film and theater industry.
The adaptation has been a passion project for Scorsese. It’s an adaptation of Charles Brandt’s 2004 book I Heard You Paint Houses, which is about the life of Sheeran, a World War II veteran who becomes a mob hitman for the Bufalino crime family. The trailer introduces Sheeran as he meets Jimmy Hoffa, the president of the Teamsters, and as he goes about on his work.
The trailer also shows off a bit of the work that was done to de-age the film’s stars, as it’s set across several decades. Scorsese spoke about the process earlier this year, explaining the effort that went into the visual effects, noting that it was a big concern for the production. He explained that because the film will be told out of order, it’ll give audiences a chance to scrutinize the results side by side. We’re seeing more of this in film: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story utilized CGI to re-create Peter Cushing’s likeness and depict a younger Carrie Fisher; Captain Marvel featured extensive work to show off a younger Samuel L. Jackson and Clark Gregg; and Ang Lee’s upcoming film Gemini Man will feature two versions of Will Smith: an older assassin and a younger clone.
It’s pretty clear that Netflix has its sights set on next year’s awards season with The Irishman. Not only does it have an impressive cast of actors who’ve carved out significant careers — in addition to De Niro and Pacino, it also stars Harvey Keitel as Angelo Bruno and Joe Pesci as Russell Bufalino — but it’s about one of the country’s most notorious mob stories: Hoffa’s assassination in 1975. Scorsese’s had good luck in this field; he’s picked up Best Director nominations for Goodfellas, Gangs of New York, and The Departed over the course of his career. This film looks as though it’ll fit nicely alongside those films, featuring sweeping visuals, men in smokey back rooms, and brutal assassinations.
The Irishman is slated to premiere at the New York Film Festival in September, with a streaming debut sometime thereafter.