"De Niro and I have been trying to make a picture again since Casino in 1995, so it was a long time since we had worked together," Scorsese said of the film, which hits Netflix Nov. 27. "We tried to find all these other projects [like a] remake of The Bad and the Beautiful—remember, the story about Hollywood with Kirk Douglas—all that sort of thing. And finally it came down to a situation where we decided that we were gonna make a film about an aging hitman, supposedly, and we working on this one project but it was kind of a genre piece. But I don't know how to do genre anymore and the genre that I know goes back to 1948. It doesn't pay. Then, [Eric Roth] gave [De Niro] this book."
That book, of course, was Charles Brandt's 2004 release I Heard You Paint Houses. "As [De Niro] was talking about the character, he became rather emotional about it and I said 'Ah, that’s something,'" Scorsese recalled of an early meeting with De Niro about the project. As the director explained, the source material provided them a chance to "learn about ourselves and go deeper." Otherwise, he added, "what are we doing? We're just repeating ourselves."
At that time, however, "basically no one" would finance the film. Years later, Netflix came along, a distinction which inspired Joe Pesci to start seriously considering joining the cast. "Now he denied that he retired," Scorsese joked. "He says he just wasn't working."
Scorsese also discussed Pesci's process of finding the character through some off-the-cuff dialogue with De Niro, Jim Norton's take on Don Rickles, Ray Romano's excellence, and more. See the full interview above.
And while Scorsese didn't talk about his recent Marvel comments with the host, Kimmel himself unveiled a faux trailer for an equally faux Marvel x Scorsese collab: